Today, I’m at PodCamp Boston, the 5th iteration of an event I co-founded with Christopher S. Penn in September of 2006. It was my first jump into the world of events. We knew nothing when we started. We knew that we wanted a bunch of people to come, and we knew we had to raise money to get everything paid for, or we’d be out a lot of money fast. See, we’d both been really good at growing communities of people interested in what we were interested in, but we weren’t yet aware of how to support those communities and to support the people who supported us.
Support Your Community
The other day, Christopher Lynn from the Colonnade Hotel and Mark Gillard from Sullivan Tire were at the 140 Conference in Boston. I used part of my time on stage to tell the audience that it was our duty to buy our tires from Mark’s company and to book our events and our stays at Chris’s hotel. Why? Because they’re out there being part of our community. They’re helping sponsor events. They’re showing up. They’re showing that they care about this more than as a sales vehicle.
If we don’t support the people who support us, what are we going to do? How are we going to show these companies that social media and all the stuff we talk about at PodCamp is worth a lick?
In recent years, people keep showing up at PodCamp asking us to help them figure out how to make money. While I’m very happy to answer that question in the ways I know how, I want to pull a John F. Kennedy and say this, Ask not how you can make money. Ask how you can make money for others. Because, here’s a hint: the two answers are related.
Build Communities In All Aspects
It’s great that you tweet about XYZ business that supported your tweet-up. Show up there for dinner. It’s great that you want to attend all the cool events. Make sure you go to the booths and thank the people who showed up. Manning a booth is never a lot of fun, but you can do a lot to make it a much better experience.
And don’t let that relationship end there. Do what you can to grow that person’s business.
I wrote before about what sponsors want. Keep on helping. Do what you can. Even if you’re just the attendee. Even if it’s not about a specific event.
Grow the people who want to see your space grow, and everyone makes out.
Oh, and if you find the occasional clingers-on in the sponsor department, that comes out of the wash rather quickly. And before we get all high and mighty about those types, think about the people in our social media community. There are plenty of hangers-on who aren’t exactly contributing on both sides of the table.
Support your communities, in every way you can. See them grow and show that you’re there to give. It’s much more fun that way.