I thought I’d do a quick look back at the events of the year for DotNetNorth as it’s been a pretty amazing year all told.
The beginning of the year saw our meetup membership exceeding 700. Our attendances had been growing slowly in 2016 and we were beginning to see the effects of the simple marketing tactics that our main sponsors Evolution Recruitment had been doing – a number of their consultants had been adding a short link to the group into their email signatures.
We had also nicely settled into using our latest venue; we made the switch to take advantage of a few things, such as a huge video wall for presentations, microphones and much easier access in the evenings. There were a few disadvantages – the space has a coffee shop alongside and the sound can carry quite far but in general it was a great fit for us with space to sit about 60 comfortably and a few dozen more at a stretch.
We also began a relationship with the guys at Pusher, who offered to come and video our talks to put on their website.
We started to see significant growth in our audience numbers in the summer with numbers reaching 60-70 for each session. The down-side of this, of course, is the cost of pizzas so we were pleased when we re-confirmed our sponsorship agreement with Evolution Recruitment.
We were also contacted by the events team at AutoTrader, a big employer in the city, who were looking at ways to raise their profile within the Tech community in Manchester.
After Oli and I took a visit to see the space we decided to run a trial event in June; this went well with the AT catering team excelling themselves in putting on a great buffet with drinks.
The opportunity to use AutoTrader came just in time as around this time the events organisers at Rise were let go and they declined to take bookings more than a month in advance.
In September we started a run of events at AutoTrader; being able to plan dates in advance with them meant we could schedule some great speakers and our audiences grew to around 60-70 each evening. We also ran a Windows Fall Creators Update launch event with a huge box of t-shirts being shipped from Redmond.
In October we ran our second Xamarin Dev Day which was kindly hosted by UKFast; they have a great theatre space with a stage and huge screen and a breakout area alongside. That event attracted people from as far away as Reading and London, just showing there’s an appetite for these kind of full day events.
We also joined the .Net Foundation Meetup Group, which means we’re now listed alongside 100 other .Net related user groups across the globe.
End of the year
At the close of the year we’re looking in great shape – we have over 1300 members on meetup and it’s growing daily.
Due to some changes in the community outreach programme at AutoTrader, they won’t be able to support us quite as comprehensively as they have in 2017, so we’re pleased to have just signed up another sponsor Dunnhumby; we’re also looking at some alternative venues to mix things up a bit, so we’re not dependent on a single host company and not demanding too much of them either.
We’re also pleased that two DotNetNorth attendees have set up their own user groups – Luce Carter has set up a Xamarin group and Michael Dickens a F# group.
All in all, this has been the best year yet for DotNetNorth; we still have problems cropping up every so often, but I still get a great thrill when the message pops up to say ‘new .Net fans have joined your meetup group’. I especially want to thank the four people who help run the group – this really is a team effort and we could not have got where we are without the work put in by Pete Vickers, Oli Newsham, Mike Irving and Jason Holloway.
Looking forward to 2018 now, deep breath….