[Ben Betts speaking at Curation Camp]

If three recent events are to go by, networks are the way to facilitate events.

Facilitation Jam
I recently attended an immersive day and a half event for facilitators created by Flora Marriott and Doug Shaw. From the original idea, an Eventbrite page was posted and shared on networks such as Twitter and from that eight people came together to learn and share from each other in order to develop their practice as facilitators. The event was not for profit so we all shared the cost.

The second L&D Connect Unconference
I helped set up the first one and did the admin for the second L&D Connect Unconference, which took place last week. Through Twitter, blogs, personal contacts and a Linkedin group we managed to get 35 people in the room to talk about learning and development. You can see more of what happened on this Storify from David Goddin. Again, the demand for this event was generated out of the network which was created by, and has grown from, the first event. We charged £50 a head for the event as we felt it needed some commitment to attend. Participants were happy to pay, which means we covered costs and a charity – in this case Mind – will receive a charitable donation. Oxfam Unwrapped received £800 as a result of the first event.

Curation Camp
I created this event as an under the radar ‘fringe’ event for last week’s Learning Technologies Conference as a part of my LearnPatch start-up. My thinking here was to create an event around a hot topic and make it easy for everyone to attend, which is why I did it bar camp style in a bar straight after the end of day one of the conference. With a good topic and four great speakers, the event promoted itself and I ended up with 45 signed up to attend. The speakers also promoted the event in tweets, which you can see here. We also managed to get a sponsor, which meant attendees got a free drink (big thanks to Ben Betts and the Curatr team). Hot topic plus good speakers equalled a great event, again powered by the network.

Although these three events were different they were similar in the way they emerged out of a need and were then turned into a physical event through networks. They really were on-demand events powered by a need which became clear through interest, driven by social networks.

These events are not traditional – they are not big ticket and not formal, but they were and are hugely valuable to participants. Face to face events nourish the network, they strengthen bonds and help grow further interest within communities and around shared interests.

Although they take time to organise, they are by their very nature quicker to pull together and easier to make happen as people are keen to make it happen. I’d encourage anyone to have a go at creating an event if your gut feeling is that it would work. Put it our there and start inviting others, asking what they think and whether they would attend/participate. It doesn’t have to be a big event, but if it fulfills a need it will be valuable and could well lead you in new, different and exciting directions.