For those of you wondering what is SMBMSP it is the Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis St Paul group.
For those of you wondering why I am writing a letter, here goes...
Rick Mahn has decided to start charging $10 for the monthly events and I want to be very open and transparent about this, I support this change.
Here is a disclaimer, I am now one of the sponsors.
Here is another, Rick did not ask me to write this. He did not see this before posting. We have had conversations about this change over recent weeks.
Let me give you a short story about my own experience.
Summer of 2007 a few local friends and I created a recruiter event with the goal of getting some colleagues together for lunch. It turned into a half day event with breakfast and lunch provided by a sponsor. We had 125 at the first event and Minnesota Recruiters was born.
We did not expect it to take off like it did. If I remember correctly we added space for more attendees after the 3rd event for 250 at each event.
For our 10th event (we have done 3 or 4 a year) in December when adding capacity (250), adjusting for anticipated cancels/no shows (50) and those on the Wait List (81) what had been a volunteer turned part time job became overwhelming.
Have you ever tried to put on an event of that size? Managed a venue (thankfully Best Buy and General Mills are great hosts), speakers, registration and all of the administrative things that go into it? And do not underestimate how high maintenance some people can be.
I was putting 4-7 business days into every event.
I was able to cover expenses (thanks to some awesome sponsors).
But it became a part time job and a job that was taking away from my day to day business. I loved doing them but it was getting too difficult.
I struggled what to do with it for about 9 months and everyone told me to add a fee to attend. This way I could put more time into it, deliver a better experience for everyone and be able to rationalize continuing the effort.
I resisted every time. It did not feel right to me. For me it took away the community feel of getting people together and learning stuff and of meeting new friends and seeing old ones.
But there was a reality to this event that without more sponsors this would likely not continue.
At our 10th event in April I charged $25 for the first time. Between getting the notice out late and the fee, attendance was 170.
I was a bit disappointed we dropped that far.
I was relieved at how much easier doing the event became.
I was a bit shocked... feedback after was that it was our best event yet.
It was easier to meet people, to network, to share ideas. It was not cramped. It was more intimate. More people were able to get their questions answered.
Our 11th event was July 30th and we were back over 200 in attendance. We had a structured unconference and this really was a great event including getting a nice interview on KARE 11 relating what we were teaching to how job seekers could be doing their search.
Some folks are pissed that I am charging for the event. Others wonder if $25 is too little.
I guess that means I have the number where it needs to be.
With the fee comes expectations. I have to:
- continue to offer content that people want/request
- start on time
- be organized
- not run out of food and beverages
I have to deliver a great experience.
Why am I supporting SMBMSP as a sponsor?
Simple, over the 25+ events I have learned a lot from this community that I have been able to take back to my recruiter world and use. It has helped my business.
I am guessing that it has helped your work/business too or you would not have been attending.
I want these events to continue. I want events that get us to the next conversation while finding ways to support newbies in this space.
For those not happy about the fee, is it the $10 (plus $1.24) or that there is any charge at all?
Are you not getting $11.24 worth of knowledge from the events? If not, then we have a whole other conversation that needs to be had.
Yes, a lot of people have been a part of the inception and growth of SMBMSP.
Yes, this is a community group.
No, I do not think we should expect Rick, Mykl, whoever to donate this many hours every month because they are nice guys.
No, I do not think it is unreasonable that after all expenses are paid that there is something left over for them.
I think it is reasonable for them to cover their time as long as they are providing content and information that the community wants and needs.
Funny, it has been easy to give Rick my opinion on this with his group but I was unwilling for so long to do it myself.
OK, so there are some glitches with this transition. No doubt.
Starting this for the upcoming event might not have been great timing. Between the ticket into the fair, parking and my uncontrolled affinity for mini donuts will cost me some cash but yes I am attending.
Yes I paid my $11.24
I also think they could have done a better job explaining why the change. It was announced at the June event at Deluxe but I do not remember anything more about it.
Enough of my rambling….
What do you think?