Another Guest Blogger joins our ranks today, in the form of Founder and organiser of Belfast Marketing Meetup, Alex Devenney. Marketing Executive Alex, discusses how the initial meetup idea was thought of to now, bringing our blog back to our Belfast base. A great read for anyone in the within the industry and equally anyone who just fancies something interesting and inspiring. For more info on Belfast Marketing Meet Up and Alex’s journey, keep reading!
How did you first hear of a Meetup?
I was first exposed to the concept of a meetup group from the tech podcast I produce called ‘WebTalksNI’, it’s a career podcast for local tech professional’s. It highlights different routes to a career in tech, local tech meetups, new technologies and everything in-between based in Northern Ireland. I always thought it was so strange that there are so many tech meetups and no active marketing meetups.
I never thought I would create a meetup.
I attend various marketing events such as TTL Presents, Amplify digital marketing, CIM events to name a few. The one thing I disliked about attending marketing events was the lack of long-term relationships built between marketers unless it’s for business. You speak to one other person while you’re there and never speak to them again.
I strongly believe in building longer term relationships, which is probably why I fit quite well in Corvus Recruitment as the Marketing Executive because that is a core value we live by.
We build long term relationships.
Where did the idea originate?
During a TTL presents event in May, I had spoken to a few great marketers who were solo in their marketing team similar to myself. I thought, I should create a marketing group for solo practitioners. Something which could a support group to discuss problems we are facing and brainstorming session.
To be honest, this scared me, I had no idea how I was going to start it, what it would actually look like. I thought I should start by gauging interest on LinkedIn, is there really an appetite for a Marketing group for solo practitioners?
I didn’t know it was going to take-off, my LinkedIn post reached 10,000 people.
After this stage, I thought ‘there is definitely interest’, but I want to ensure I get it right, what do marketers really want to get out of the meetup group? What topics, format, time, day? I created a questionnaire with various questions to find out what those who showed interest really wanted and the Belfast Marketing Meetup for solo practitioners was born.
I didn’t want this to be something that could be forgotten about if I took too long to organise the first event. So I organised a venue and speakers for 3 weeks from this initial announcement. This is when it started to feel real, I panicked that I had to public speak. The most people I have spoken in front of was 9 people, in my work team meetings.
This was a whole new level.
I attended a public speaking group, Toastmasters, to see if I could improve my confidence in the run up to the event. I also contacted Niamh Taylor, Managing Director of DigitalTwentyFour , who has publically discussed her own fear of speaking.
How I got over my fear of public speaking
In the end, what really got me through it was a mixture of things:
- Rehearsing what I wanted to say
- Socialising with all attendees at the start of the event
- Breaking up my speaking with interactive activities.
Since the first one, I’ve barely thought about the public speaking aspect. There also was a large appetite from people who weren’t solo practitioners, so I decided to open up the meetup to all marketers in Belfast. The meetup group became the Belfast Marketing Meetup.
It has definitely became bigger than I ever expected.
The Marketing Community
I thought the meetup should be something that has an input from the community of marketers who were interested in being a part of it, I asked if anyone wanted to be a part of a committee. I selected the following people to be a part of the Belfast Marketing meetup committee, James Scullion; Rapid Marketing, Sarah Stewart; Corvus Recruitment, Hilary McGuckin; Etain Software and Catherine Doherty; Axon Financial System.
This essentially means, they are a smaller network to discuss locations, speakers, topics and help with running some events when they can.
Who have been involved so far?
We have had people speak about anything from optimising your LinkedIn for business use, imposter syndrome, UX, SEO and more. We’ve had many different sponsors from Etain Software, Creative Commercial Interiors, Think Linked.In and Gekkoshot.
There has also been a range of different venues from Catalyst Fintech Hub, Ormeau Baths, Scottish Provident Building and soon to be Raise Ventures which I can’t wait to check out.
We’ve had attendees from a range of companies including
Think Linked.In, Allsop, ITS Industry Training Services, Q. Radio, Bizmerang, Quality NI, Fusion Antibodies, Authur Boyd & Company, WebsiteNI, Barclay Communications, Workpal, Whichicao.com, Aoife Burns Marketing, NakedPR, Xsell Team, Secure Broadcast, Belfast Metropolitan College, GlowMetrics, Whitemountain
To name a few…
I think the main lesson I’ve learned from these crazy 4 months is that if something scares you, it’s usually worth doing. I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has attended, supported, hosted or been involved in any way.
I can’t wait to see what next year brings.
Hopefully I’ll see you at a future meetup!
- Alex Devenney
We hope you enjoyed this different take on a guest blog from Alex. I’m sure you’ll agree that from ideation to present the journey of Belfast Marketing Meetup is an inspiring one. For more information on Belfast Marketing Meetup, you can find more information on the meet up here. As real advocates for the meetup, you can always throw us a DM or email for more information and we’ll be sure to point you in the right direction!
Rapid Agency – Digital Marketing in Belfast