An update #Awkward!

Written by Paul Ginsberg

23rd May 2022

One of the caps I wear, is being a co-leader for YeurLeadin, which aims to help the more involved person in the Salesforce ecosystem. Here I reproduce a recent YeurLeadin blog, which reflects upon what the status is for community events in 2022, as we transition to some sort of different “post pandemic” normality.

Welcome to potentially the last instalment of YeurLeadin for June 2022(!)

Summary: no formal gathering. Read on for the full story or skip to the bottom for “next steps”.

We present the rest of the information as this blog is aimed at community leaders, so you can see how this panned out, and take away any insights you want.

Background
in 2019 YeurLeadin hosted a gathering of 73 attendees from around the world, with 9 sessions discussing the logistics of running a community group, and then a great social afterwards. 

More Innovation

People in a "country pub" setting within the Nooks virtual meeting platform

In 2020 and 2021 we pivoted and ran a number of online sessions to help us all figure out how to work in a remote-working world.

2022
This year, as people were gradually transitioning to something more like “normality”, we decided to pause running online sessions, as we weren’t sure what value we could add in addition to what was already out there. We are focused on adding value, not just being noisy. The Salesforce environment is congested enough without us adding to the problem! But not only that, sometimes you need to let a field lie fallow for it to re-engage with fresh ideas/nutrients; you need to make space for something new.

Cody driving past Nelson's Column, in London, in a black cab, with the YeurDreamin' logo plastered over the image

In the Spring, we were pleased to hear that YeurDreamin was being scheduled again for 2022, even if Cody appeared a little confused about the location (see  the London black cab above!). YeurDreamin and YeurLeadin aren’t intrinsically tied to one another, but they are very good friends, so it gave us the impetus to do an in-person gathering for YeurLeadin.

Our brainstorm produced the idea of a professional facilitator, experienced in community building. Through our connections we had a specific person in mind, with availability. We wanted to touch upon: trauma (we’re not clear of this pandemic mess yet; and people have been mentally and physically damaged), explore taking care of leaders, how to nourish a community and how to run a session. The all inclusive price-tag was around €2500 excluding venue, but including catering.

The Dating Game
There were a number of challenges. It turned out that the European calendar would be congested. We didn’t know it, but many community organisations, and corporates, identified June 2022 as the safest time to run an event. This led to much juggling and the YeurDreamin date changing a number of times. YeurLeadin is an international event, not a purely local one, so we (the YeurLeadin organisers) felt that we couldn’t ask for commitments from attendees until we knew our own date. 

For the record, just off the top of our heads, in the next 30 days, in EMEA we have:

This excludes the normal User Group and Salesforce Saturday meetups!

Late in the day we got a confirmation of when YeurDreamin would be… and this year it wouldn’t be a Friday. To fit into the schedule it needed to be a Saturday. The net result that YeurLeadin would likely be on a Sunday, meaning an entire weekend would be taken up with Salesforce events, presumably – for most – after a normal working week.

Survey Time
We weren’t sure. Would people want to meet up on a Sunday? We ran a survey via our 104-strong mailing list and got 31 responses. A very good rate (so thank you all that replied!).

Ultimately it led to 13 solid responses for the Sunday (versus other options). We used that to set our aim for 30 people, as we could easily identify other people who may be interested but weren’t on our mailing list.


Sponsor Time
We had previously spoken to local representatives of a reasonably well known global company; they had indicated that they were highly supportive and would do whatever they could… Too late in the day we asked them for that firmer commitment: Oh? Money? No, but anything else.

The lesson we should have learned some time ago: just like identifying decision makers is vital, also get to understand the budget available from the person you are speaking to.

So we went to the wider market. We are indebted to NextView, who not only offered their venue but also went further and offered to cover all catering. Unfortunately we didn’t have the skill to raise funds from other sources (a range of exciting packages were on offer!), certainly not in the timeframe currently available. We definitely need to work on this for next time!

Being honest, it was at this point, about a week ago, that Paul was hovering: the options were:

  • go for the existing plan of action;
  • go forward with a smaller event; or
  • to cancel


Cancelling was always an available option and had been discussed within the organising team, but none of us had said it was the appropriate course of action so far.

Taking Measure
Slipping into first person mode here, as much of the rest is based on my personal observations: 

On Tuesday (17th May), I went to my first in-person meetup since Covid began. It was the second Amsterdam User Group in-person meeting of 2022. I had an amazing time. It was so great seeing everyone, and I thoroughly enjoyed the content – very energising. But numbers were down. There were around 25 attendees instead of the “normal” 60 or 75. Across the general events space as a whole I’ve seen 20-25% attendance quoted, in comparison to pre-pandemic.

People are making different decisions on what to do with their spare time. And, as someone on Tuesday pointed out to me, they aren’t returning to the office, which means if you aren’t “in town” for a meeting, then going to a community event is – for many – a lot more of an ask than previously. So this is likely to be some sort of permanent change.

It would be optimistic to think that our own ecosystem is immune from this. TrailblazerDX had tickets available right up until the event itself.

With this all in mind I listened to my body. It’s actually a science called interoception, all about picking up on the clues that your subconscious has been processing. The irony was that I was channelling all the information I had gained by being at my first in-person event in two years.

I decided that YeurLeadin 2022 was not to be; or at least I was now ready to vocalise this to my co-leaders. A huge disappointment, but too much risk. Likely low numbers, no guarantee of sponsorship to put on the event and keep to the high standards that we like to think we achieve. I didn’t want to disappoint attendees who would be booking accommodation and incurring other costs especially for our event. Also it would be awkward for our sponsors – the Dutch community is fairly tight, so any expensive “failure” could impact other groups in terms of future opportunities. 

I texted my fellow co-leaders, summing it up as follows: Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean that it’s sensible! They agreed. 

And on one further, sour, note, I do wonder if the Dutch community – which thrives on social interaction – has been particularly hard hit. There are now perhaps only two or three user groups that regularly meet, with fewer numbers too, in contrast to the eight groups that there were in 2019. Our Salesforce Saturdays have been similarly afflicted.

So we have to adjust. Only I’m not entirely sure how. That’s not a cry for help – just a statement of fact as I think the dust is still settling on that one.

Positives

The Amsterdam User Group happily waving away to the camera

I’m going to reiterate how much I enjoyed meeting up again with everyone during the week (I’m somewhere in the crowd pictured above). Writing this piece I wonder whether meeting less often, may be the way forward – making it more of an “event”… creating value in scarcity. It’s just an idea.

And YeurLeadin? / Next Steps
One takeaway is that we are participants and we need to rebuild that muscle memory. So prioritise by all means, but do go out there and enjoy being with the Trailblazer community.

Our second takeaway is that there’s always another path, so my/Paul’s offer is this: “If you are ‘deeply involved in the community’, that’s to say: CGLs, MVPs, Salesforce Saturday or Community Conference organisers, Product Champions or anyone else self-identifying… typically this includes active bloggers and many Golden Hoodies*, let me know and get to hang around in Amsterdam on Sunday, 19th June, the day after YeurDreamin. DM mepress reply or connect to me on LinkedIn.”

“We will be together, have a fantastic time and exchange and create ideas. We can go on a mini (self-paid) adventure tracking down the decent eateries of Amsterdam and interesting things to do. It’s still the perfect day for it – there’s not going to be formal training or sessions, but it will be fun 😊”

*Golden Hoodies may also want to reserve 1st December or thereabouts, which happens to be French Touch Dreamin as there’s likely to be be a dedicated gathering in Paris – Frederique Mounier has all the details.

Much love from all of us,
Paul Ginsberg, Ines Garcia, Justyna Krajewska and Sarah Metcalfe

YeurLeadin shares best practice and inspiration for Salesforce Community Leaders. Whether you’re on the organising team of a Community Group, Salesforce Saturday, Community Conference, an MVP or a Product Champion; or you’re otherwise deeply involved in the community, the aim is that we can all learn from each other. Have some ephinanies you wish to share? Let us know!

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