Just Do It! Keep your local community vibrant and relevant! Virtual event is better than no event at all!

Introduction

What keeps your local tech community gatherings (User Group, SQL Saturday, and others) is you, your team, and your events. What might be obvious to some, might not obvious to all – having no events, no activities in your tech community will erode the foundation of your community and will lead to its demise.

Yes, we all agree that 2020 and 2021 have completely changed the game of running community events with many mature in-person events downsizing or completely closing its doors due to COVID and the local regulations that came with it. At the same time, is not to say that you can’t run events. If your local regulations are preventing you from running an in-person event, just run a virtual event, at least for the time being. And while virtual events are not a full replacement for in-person (primarily due to completely missing out on the networking aspect), it’s still way better than no event at all.

Problem

While the cost of virtual event is close to none and it requires less preparation, it’s does require new skills. Running a virtual event is very different than in-person, but it also much easier than in-person event. So, what do you to go from organizing in-person event to a virtual event?

Solution

For your user group monthly meeting, all you need is you (and maybe a backup person just in case), catch all tech support email account, tools to organize the event (Eventbrite.com), some marketing campaigns to promote the meeting, and some experience (and patience for few hours) with Zoom/MS Teams/other remote meeting software of your choice. If you want to go fancy, some familiarity with TechSmith Camtasia and YouTube would be needed to record and share recorded session.

If this is going to be a full day event with multiple rooms like a SQL Saturday event, you would need a great team of volunteers, catch all tech support email account, tools to organize the event (Eventbrite.com/SQLSaturday.com/Sessionize.com/and few custom Microsoft Forms), well thought through marketing campaign to promote the event and decent familiarity with software to run a long remote meeting. If you want to go fancy, some familiarity with TechSmith Camtasia and YouTube would be needed to record and share recorded sessions.

Great Team

You would need a team of really dedicated volunteers to moderate virtual rooms, preferably one volunteer dedicated per each virtual room for 8 hours.

Marketing

You need to involve email marketing, social media, but more importantly you need to reach out to organizers of similar events to help you out reaching out wider audience.

Consider adding Meetup to your marketing toolbelt. Please reach out to ms-data at microsoft.com to join Azure Data Tech Groups and get your Meetup cost comped by Microsoft.

Remote meeting software

Here you need to decide on Zoom, MS Teams or something else, get comfortable with it, have few dry runs with volunteers and speakers, setup 8 hours long meeting per each virtual room, and pray for it to work flawlessly.

To conclude

The Data Driven Technologies Team is running Los Angeles Data Platform User Group virtually for 2-3 years now. We have also organized and delivered 2 Virtual SQL Saturday in Los Angeles events (2020 and 2021).

If you need help, I am here for you. Let’s me help you with running your virtual event with handholding and guidance. I can help you out with everything your need – technology tools, marketing, speakers, attendees, sponsors, etc…

I want your User Group, SQL Saturday event and more importantly SQL Saturday brand to stay relevant.

Official message about our move to sqlsaturday.com

It has been brought to our attention that there might be some confusion about the status of the 2021 Data.SQL.Saturday.LA event and our decision to deactivate our listing on the https://datasaturdays.com/ platform and move it to https://sqlsaturday.com/2021-06-12-sqlsaturday1020/

Originally the 2021 Data.SQL.Saturday.LA event was listed on https://datasaturdays.com/, but about a month or so ago we were asked to remove our branding and our logo.  Our branding and our logo are very important to us for sentimental reasons and we decided to list the event on sqlsaturday.com instead.  Everything else stays the same.  The event is still scheduled for June 12th and we will be sending out more details soon. 

If you have any other questions about our move to the sqlsaturday.com platform or its affiliation with Redgate, please reach out to us directly and we will be happy to discuss. 

You are cordially invited to attend 2021 Virtual Data.SQL.Saturday.LA event!

Virtual 2021 Data.SQL.Saturday.LA
 Logo by Janella Payumo and Robert Mizikovsky

You are cordially invited! ūüėé

We are reaching out to all people that enjoyed SQL Saturday in LA 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 events to let you know that the 2021 event is fast approaching. Only 30+ days remain until the June 12 Virtual Data.SQL.Saturday.LA event.

Please register soon to reserve your spot by using http:// 2021sqlsatla.eventbrite.com http://sqlsatla2021.eventbrite.com/ hyperlink, register using a form below or just use a QR code.

https://linktr.ee/sqlsatla

Eventbrite QR code

Our sponsors

Event Flyer

Choosing a FREE Email marketing service platform to engage your community event members

Introduction

Running community events occasionally is not enough to engage your attendees/members. Unless you are running daily events, you are advised to communicate with your members between the events, as much more as possible. Using Email Marketing Service (EMS) platform is one way to make it happen. This blog post is going to take you on a leaving the MailChimp journey and exploring a few of the alternative Email Marketing Service (“EMS”) platforms that we (organizers of Los Angeles Data Platform User Group and SQL Saturday in Los Angeles event) chose to use as well as few DNS settings to set up to avoid the spam filter.

After years of using MailChimp to keep our members engaged for both the LA Data Platform/SQL Malibu user group (started in 2013) and SQL Saturday events (started in 2017), we’ve finally decided to draw a line and choose something else.

While MailChimp has a great product, the company that became the staple in the world of emails got overly confident and decided to squeeze every dollar. Some of the features that made MailChimp the king of the SOHO market are the ability to schedule posts to Facebook and Twitter, superb email deliverability reports, and an overall great interface. At the same time, some of those features became paid plan-only features. We were enjoying a FREE plan, but over the years MailChimp decided to make it less attractive by pushing some of the previously included features behind the paywall.

It’s started with something minor like making it difficult to BYOH (bring your own HTML code), continued with reduction of the contact list, and finally ended up with making campaign scheduling capabilities only available in paid plans.

Problem

We are a non-profit and trying to enjoy champagne on a beer budget where we can. We prefer to enjoy free services as much as we can. With Mailchimp taking away campaign scheduling, we decided to seriously consider alternatives. We briefly migrated to MailerLite to only discover that sending 12,000 emails a month is not enough for us. If initially, our user group emails were mostly about inviting members to attend user group meetings, in the last couple of months we have added weekly links Friday campaigns which caused us to run out of 12,000 monthly emails quicker and made MailerLite not that attractive any longer. Hitting the 12,000 monthly emails limit for a free plan too soon, effectively brought us back to look further and consider much more forward-looking alternatives that would work for us today and a year from now.

Solution

What are we using today? We reviewed and analyzed all different alternatives here and chose 2 platforms. As of May 2, 2021, we are using Sender.net for SQL Saturday in LA event and MooSend.com MailerLite.com for LA Data Platform.

What are we getting for free from each platform?

Sender – 15,000 monthly emails for a contact list under 2,500 subscribers with all features included.

Moosend – unlimited emails for a contact list under 1,000 subscribers. We can schedule campaigns and we can see open/clicks/problems reporting. As of Feb 2, 2022, we are no longer on Moosend (Moosend is no longer offering a free forever account) and moved to MailerLite which mostly provides the same product for free.

How did we migrate from MailChimp/MailerLite/Moosend?

Migration is a fairly simple process of exporting/importing your contact list and exporting/importing your regular campaigns. What might take you more time is matching every EMS platform dictionary (see Fig 2). What might be also a bit confusing is how to recreate the Signup form, so people can easily subscribe to your mailing list.

Fig #2 – MailChimp’s Audience is MailerLite’s Subscribers is Moosend Mailing lists is Senders subscribers

Like with any EMS platform, you would want to invest some time in setting things up to improve email deliverability beyond the content of your email. You would want to make sure that your DNS is aware of your EMS. Luckily, all major EMS platforms can help with that and would even provide you with instructions on how to fix it.

SPF, DKIM

In a nutshell, you would need to add the following records to improve your email deliverability and avoid the spam filter:

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) is an email authentication method designed to detect forging sender addresses during the delivery of the email.[1] SPF alone, though, is limited to detecting a forged sender claim in the envelope of the email, which is used when the mail gets bounced.[1] Only in combination with DMARC can it be used to detect the forging of the visible sender in emails (email spoofing[2]), a technique often used in phishing and email spam.

DomainKeys / DKIM is an email authentication method designed to detect forged sender addresses in the email (email spoofing), a technique often used in phishing and email spam.

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) is an email authentication protocol. It is designed to give email domain owners the ability to protect their domain from unauthorized use, commonly known as email spoofing. The purpose and primary outcome of implementing DMARC is to protect a domain from being used in business email compromise attacks, phishing emails, email scams, and other cyber threat activities.

While the 3 settings mentioned above are a great way to ensure your emails are reaching your member’s mailboxes, you would be strongly advised to get a free account with mxtoolbox that would constantly scan your domain records for problems.

Disclaimer

This blog post is partially based on the following resources:

https://tutorialdeep.com/blog/free-mailchimp-alternatives

2021 Data.SQL.Saturday.LA Sponsorship Plan announced

Sponsorship Plan

We appreciate you taking time to consider sponsoring 2021 Data.SQL.Saturday in LA. We have assembled a few sponsorship plans that you can select from. Donations for this event will be used to cover the costs of running the event and the LA Data Platform SQL User Group meetings. The event is put on by the Data Driven Technologies, Inc. a local 501.c.3 non-profit.

Event Overview

The Data.SQL.Saturday is a single day conference that offers data professionals the opportunity to improve their stills and learn about new products while networking with others in their field and connecting with other members of the local Database community and our sponsors.

This event is put together by a group of dedicated Los Angeles database community volunteers and local database user groups as well as volunteer speakers from across the globe. 

Attendance

When the event was held in-person, it used to bring in 300+ attendees.  In 2020 we moved to a virtual event for the first time and had 700+ registrations from all around the world, with 400+ attending the event.

Cost of Sponsorship

This year, sponsorship ranges from Swag Only to $1,000.00, depending on the package you select:

 TierSwagBronzeSilverGold
Amount$0$250$500$1000
Sponsor Logo and URL on the event web site and xxxx
Sponsor Logo and URL included in email campaignsxxxx
Sponsors Logo included in session slidesxxxx
Sponsor Logo included in YouTube videosxxxx
Social Media posts Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Instagramxxxx
Sponsor Rafflexxxx
Collect Raffle Leadsxxx
Email sent on behalf of a sponsor  xx
Product-focused sponsor session 
(based on availability, first come first serve) 
  xx
Sponsor a virtual room (name a room)
(based on availability, first come first serve) 
  x
Short video advertising embedded in a recorded session
(YouTube video will contain a paid promotion like a product placement, sponsorship, or endorsement)
   x
12-months of LA Data Platform User Group sponsorship   x
Dedicated virtual sponsor rooms (MS Teams breakout)   x
Sponsorship Plan

*To collect and received leads you must participate in the raffle and offer a raffle prize valued at $50.00 or more.

To sponsor please follow this link to fill out the sponsorship form: https://tinyurl.com/3zjp744s.  An invoice will be emailed to you (generated by PayPal) and can be paid by check or credit card. All fees must be paid in advance.

Cancellation Policy

Any cancellation that is caused by us will result in a full refund. It‚Äôs really that simple ‚Äď no event, no expenses, no need for sponsorship money.

Raffle

The raffle registration is used to opt-in for us to share their information with our sponsors.  Remember the raffle prize is your key to success and the better the prize the more leads you will collect.

We will manage the raffle and collect, cleanup and de-dup the data for you and send you the leads after the event.  We will let you know who the winners of the raffle are, and you can send them the prize.  If you prefer that we manage the prize for you, please let us know and we will work on the details.