40,000 Event Lovers Cannot be Wrong

In 2008 I started a group on LinkedIn for Event Lovers, it was just myself back then. We are now 40,000.
This post is by Julius Solaris for Event Manager Blog (?).

In February 2008, as soon as LinkedIn opened groups creation to the masses, I decided to start a group calledEvent Planning and Management Group.

It’s been an interesting journey. We just reached 40,000 members. In few months, at the current growth rate, we will count on 50,000 members. I thought to share some milestones of the past 3 and 1/2 years, as well as to thank those who made this possible.

Lots of Mistakes

In the early days, I used the group as my community management playground. I wanted to experiment and test what worked and what didn’t.

In hindsight, I did a lot of mistakes. I guess that only thanks to those mistakes, I was able to make it always better. With the help of trusted people, of course.

A Brief History

The group immediately started to grow. I put together a Ning Group next to it as LinkedIn did not have discussions, jobs and news sections at the time. I created a private environment where to have in depth conversations about the industry. It was exciting. I remember approving manually around 2,000 people. I was getting up to 65 group-related emails a day.

As soon as LinkedIn launched the above sections, I decided to drop the Ning site. A very smart decision in hindsight as I have seen tons of Ning communities of event planners crashing down.

When I worked briefly for amiando, we run 15 networking events around the world. That was very exciting. Group members came together and got to know each other. It was lots of fun.

We had our moments of controversy. At one stage, we experienced a substantial amount of spam. That’s when we decided to have a tough approach on all promotional posts. However, some members complained (very aggressively in some instances) about the strict moderation policy. We then decided to leave it to members to say what was spam and what wasn’t, thanks to an easy flagging system. To date we are one of the few LinkedIn groups to feature a crowdsourced approach to moderation.

Moderation can get very emotional on LinkedIn. Some group managers receive threatening phone calls and experience abuse due to their moderation choices. I consider myself lucky to have relatively avoided all of the above.

When LinkedIn recently introduced the option to open groups to search engines, we asked members whether they wanted it open or closed. For the record, I wanted to open it. The advantages of having discussion indexed on Google were far too obvious. The vote was overwhelmingly in favour of a closed group.

I respected the group decision. This is when we surpassed by far other event planning groups on LinkedIn. I am still amazed by that.

A Team Effort

By no means this has been an individual achievement. The group has grown so quickly thanks to the help of Anne Thornley-Brown, who manages the main group on a daily basis. But also Rennette Grace and Kena Siu, whose effort has been simply amazing. We currently count on 11 people managing the group and its subgroups on a voluntary basis. This is just stunning.

Some Numbers

The main group has 40,000 members.

We started subgroups covering social media and technology, career development, sales and marketing as well as regional areas (Washington D.C., New York, Western Europe, Caribbean, Canada, Latin America and soon Eastern Countries).

We grow roughly by 2,500 members a month. Some months even faster than that. Despite everything you may read and what your association tells you, this is the largest gathering of event lovers in the world.

You will find discussion items with more than 900 replies. Members got jobs through the group, learned about social media and found cool venues.

Ask yourself what other community does that for you. If you have no answer, just join and invite your colleagues to do so.