On Tuesday, I hosted a meetup on the subject of Personal CRM systems. I believe that digital tools can help us organize our growing social networks, and I’m using a software called Monica to do precisely that. I’ve also heard from other people who use Roam or Airtable to stay in touch with their contacts. While I diligently insert information into the system, I’m not sure that I already use it in the best and most efficient way.
For a while, I had this idea in mind of hosting a discussion about the topic. Still, I didn’t get around to organize one until I learned about the Creator Spark mini-accelerator that Anne-Laure LeCunff runs inside her Ness Labs community. In a nutshell, Anne-Laure encourages her members to run events within the group, i.e., lending them her audience. Afterward, members should publish a write-up about them to kick-start online creation and complete the accelerator. I hosted the event already, and today I’m posting the write-up.
Since I mostly write shorter posts on this blog, I’ve decided to focus only on my experience hosting the event and then write a second post after a few days centering on the subject matter. In other words, this is not a post about Personal CRM but a “meta” post about hosting virtual events. I’m not new to giving talks and demos, and I’ve previously MCed a virtual API the Docs meetup. However, this time was the first time I did it all on my own and not having a team to back me up.
I used luma to create an event signup page and shared it on the Ness Labs events and announcements forum nearly two weeks before the meetup. I tweeted about it once but didn’t do any additional promotion. Still, I got 78 signups. Of course, every free event has no-shows, but 38 attendees at the peak were almost twice the turnout that I expected, and I’m grateful for the vast interest in the subject. I guess it also shows the value of communities of like-minded people as a great way of gathering an audience. As a side note, the announcement post had a lot less likes and comments, which shows that most people on forums are lurkers.
As the event started, I had to split my attention between giving a welcome speech and handling the Zoom waiting room as more people arrived. I should probably have turned it off. On the other hand, that allowed Yina Huang to volunteer as my co-host. She didn’t just help me with the waiting room and managing attendees but also kept an eye on the chat and collected questions and feedback from the audience. I cannot stress the value of having a co-host for admin work enough, and I’m sending a big thanks to Yina!
I planned to use the first 15 minutes to introduce the topic and ask the crowd about their own CRM setup and their motivations for attending the event. Then, I wanted to give a Monica live demo to show the software itself and how I use it, taking probably another 15 minutes. Both went well and as planned.
For the second half of the one-hour event, I intended to have an open discussion about the motivations behind building a Personal CRM and alternative concepts, workflows, and tools. What I didn’t expect to happen was that this turned into a Q&A session with me that put me in the expert seat to answer the audience’s questions. Of course, I had given a presentation right before it, but I don’t perceive myself as a subject matter expert, and I ran the session not just to share what I’m doing but also to learn from others. Not to complain, but I slightly missed that goal.
What will happen next? First of all, I will publish a second write-up based on my presentation and the Q&A session, as there seems to be some value in sharing my setup. Then, I have a few ideas for follow-up events. One is merely repeating the event for those who couldn’t attend. Another is a follow-up session that will not have a presentation and be more of a free-flow discussion. I could also imagine teaming up with someone as a co-host who uses a different tool and wants to present their setup and take the expert seat next time. Finally, I believe Personal CRM and networking raise many general, strategic, or philosophical questions besides tools. For that purpose, I may host an Interintellect salon to give the topic the space of three hours that it deserves. Stay tuned to my blog and/or Twitter for specific announcements.