Be part of the community
So. I’ve talked at a number of events. I’ve attended even more. But I’ve never organised one before. I did that this week.
Well, obviously I didn’t do it in one week. It was over a period of two or so months, and involved leaning on a number of people for support in a range of areas – speaker contacts, locations, availability, facilities, “marketing” (in parentheses because it was basically spamming LinkedIn and Twitter).
However, the event evening came around, and to my surprise;
- People I’d never met before turned (stunned!)
- Every turned up at the same location, too (blimey!)
- Three lovely speakers gave up their free time to share their knowledge (wowzers!)
- Attendees seemed to genuinely enjoy the evening and feedback has been constructive and positive (wowahwooweh!)
Doing this event demonstrated a few things to me. On to the data!
- 40 attendees ate a total of 95 slices of pizza (2.375 slices per person on average)
- 65 cans of Brewgooder beer drunk (1.625 cans per person…but I think SOME people had a little more than that 🙂 )
- 2 large bottles of pop between the non drinkers (skewing the above average, and increasing the sugarific energy in the room…excellent work all round)
But more seriously
- 40 attendees brought together by their love of data, working in and around Manchester
- A roughly even split of male and female attendees
- Based on a short, anonymous pre-meet questionnaire, we had people from varied role backgrounds ranging from graduates, clinicians, business analysts, data scientists and other roles…and at different career levels too. All of whom had a passion for data.
It firmed up my belief, which I had hoped that the event would demonstrate : there is a massive demand in the data community for these kinds of “cross-discipline” meetups, that allow practitioners from all kinds of backgrounds to share their data-driven knowledge and approaches. We have some amazing meetups running in the region that might support very specific use cases or practice areas (ONLY data science, or ONLY Data Vizualisation, and so on). But we have fewer chances to do this ACROSS disciplines.
An example I gave when quickly talking through some of the ambitions that our attendees shared in our questionnaire; you CAN specialise in Natural Language Processing. And you can build a career in advanced forecasting and customer segmentation. Indeed, you can be completely fulfilled by being the best data visualiser that you can be. But our meetups can show how an amazing conceptual approach could influence the way that you may use a clustering algorithm to define some awesomely insightful, targetable customer segments. And then to get stakeholders to buy into that approach, you can really make the data pop with some incredible, intuitive data imagery.
There’s a purpose to this story. I’ve deliberately not mentioned the name of the meetup, because the purpose of this blog isn’t to actually promote that event (although I’m very much hoping that it won’t be just a one off). It’s to advocate the value and strength of events such as Measurecamp Manchester.
It’s probably quite easy for you to find meetups and events close to you that support your particular career focus, and help you be a better version of what you want to be. But what Measurecamp, with it’s concept of an Unconference does, is give you the chance to be part of a bigger community, and a chance to broaden your understanding (and hopefully grow your excitement) of the potential of your local, national and global data community. It gives you a chance to speak if you want to, listen to what you can and get involved in what you’re passionate about. But most importantly, it gives you a chance to get exposed to the wider community, all of whom care just as much as you about data, insight, analytics and anything in between. Don’t miss it.