Monday, July 20, 2015

Inviting People To A Civic Hacking Event

One of my current goals is to make more people in NE Wisconsin aware of civic hacking and civic hacking events.

Civic hacking will only become a high value activity in NE Wisconsin if we get a sustainable number of people involved in it. For lots of people to get involved, those people need to feel invited to participate in civic hacking events!

First point for today’s blog is that there’s a civic hacking event on July 22nd.
The next NE Wisconsin civic hacking event is on Wednesday of this week, July 22, starting at 6 PM, in Appleton at The Avenue HQ, 120 N Morrison St, Suite 101. Click here for a location map.
The second point for today is that YOU can help spread the word about this event, and it would be much appreciated if you did that!
Please let others know about the July 22nd informal civic hacking event. Click here if you want to read more about this event. You don’t have to know anything about civic hacking to participate. The type of people likely most interested are coders / developers / programmers. But lots of other types of people are needed for civic hacking, as explained in the blog post “What Are Some Non-coder Activities In Civic Hacking?
Today’s third point is that there are many ways to invite people to participate in civic hacking.
A few of the ways you can invite someone to participate in a civic hacking event are through (a)  personal invitation, (b) asking others you know to invite people, (c) publicizing the event in organizations, (d) social media, (e) event or registration websites, (f) events you participate in, and (g) blogs or websites relevant to civic hacking or community events in NE Wisconsin.
Below are a few ideas on how to invite more people to participate in civic hacking. If you know of other effective ways to invite people to participate in events, please email Bob Waldron at bwaldron (at) gmail [dott] com. I’ll update this post as the suggestions come flying in...

Personal Invitation

The absolute best way to get someone to participate in an event is for you to personally invite them. Some social butterflies may be invited to ten or twenty events each week, but most people aren’t personally invited to all that many events. They may hear about or read about hundreds of events, but usually they’re not personally invited to very many of those hundreds of events.  Psychologists and sociologists can probably explain why the personal invitation is a more persuasive reason to participate than is just reading an announcement about the event. All I know is that Person A is at least twice as likely to attend Event B if you personally invite them to it than if Person A just reads about the event on Facebook, in the Appleton Post-Crescent or on a blog or other website.

You can invite people in a face-to-face conversation, through a phone call, text or email. Or whatever other communication means you use with people you know. You can invite friends, family, acquaintances, neighbors, coworkers, and other types of people you know. If you know a ton of people, invites lots of your connections. If you’re new in the area, don’t know many people or are just uncomfortable inviting others to an event like this, inviting two or three people is a good start. But most people should be able to come up with a list of ten people who might consider participating in a civic hacking event.

Sit down today with your laptop, tablet or phone, or use a pencil and paper if that works better for you, and write a list of ten people to invite. Then invite each of them, either today or tomorrow, to the July 22nd civic hacking event in Appleton.

Asking Others To Invite People

If you know a social butterfly, networking connector or maven, or someone who’s just well-connected in their city or in NE Wisconsin, talk with them about civic hacking and ask them to help you invite people to participate in a civic hacking event. These well-connected people will be able to quickly come up with 20, 30 or more people to invite. They may even know other mavens who can also personally invite people to the event.

Publicizing Event In Organizations

Another way to let a lot of people know about an event is to publicize it through organizations, especially if you’re a member of the organization and can include a personal invitation along with the event promotion. Organizations to consider might be the company you work for, a professional, social or hobby membership organization, your church, or even organizations you don’t belong to but know would be interested in the event. You can let people know about the civic hacking event through flyers on a bulletin board, an organization website, a personal announcement at an organization meeting, through mailing lists, and through newsletters, either

Social Media

In today’s digital world, online social media is another way to let people know about an event and invite them to participate. You can use your personal Facebook page or messaging, or you can set up an event page on Facebook. You can use Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social services. You can use Slack or similar group collaboration tools.

Event And Registration Websites

The two commonly-used sites I’m aware of for free or low-cost event management and promotion are and Eventbrite. It seems like there should be more competition in that space, but I’m not aware of any other big-name players -- if you know of some, please shoot me an email.

If you want to help organize an event, or Eventbrite are probably both good options. For the June 6 civic hackathon in Appleton, we used Eventbrite. Many other civic hacking events around the world organize events using one of these two platforms. seems like it’s more often used for weekly or monthly regularly-scheduled meetings. Both sites have some level of marketing capability, and if you want to try using one or both of these tools to get more NE Wisconsin people involved in civic hacking, that’s fantastic!

Events You Participate In

Not every group event provides an opportunity for you to promote civic hacking or other topics which are of personal interest to people at the event. Some events do, however, have a forum or method for you to let people know about something like civic hacking, especially if civic hacking is relevant to the event you are at.

Three examples of events which provide an appropriate opportunity to explain and promote civic hacking, and to invite people to participate in civic hacking, are Wisconsin's THAT Conference, BarCampMilwaukee and BarCampGreenBay. These are geek and coder events which have opportunities for event participants to lead informal discussion sessions on topics that may be of interest to other people at the event. A coder who is going to That Conference mentioned to me that he'll likely do a session about civic hacking there. And I'll probably be doing sessions about civic hacking at the two barcamps this fall.

I don't go to any city employee or city official events, so I don't know if those ever have opportunities to promote or discuss topics like civic hacking, but if they do, those events might have a lot of attendees interested in civic hacking.

Blogs And Relevant Websites

Blogs and other websites where you can publicize or promote a topic of interest to you are good tools to raise the visibility of civic hacking and to help NE Wisconsin people understand what civic hacking is all about.

I don’t know very many people who actively blog these days, but if you do blog, or if you have access to websites where you can promote area events, please let people know about  the July 22 civic hacking event in Appleton and provide a link to info about the event.

Potential Impact of Your Invitations

The last point for today’s blog post is that, with minimal marketing and promotion, we had over 40 people register for the DHMN Civic Hackathon/Appleton 2015 on June 6. If half the people who registered for that hackathon invite a bunch of other people to future civic hacking events, we can easily get 100 to 200 people actively working on civic hacks for our region.

When we have 100 to 200 well-connected people collaborating on this, we’ll have a sustainable community of civic hackers!


Next week I’ll do a post about another aspect of connecting more people to civic hacking -- getting more users for civic hacks, also known as growth hacking.


No comments:

Post a Comment