Creating the Perfect Community Event

When building a startup, the idea of organizing community events may seem like overwhelming tasks, but this key recruitment strategy should become part of the fabric of your company culture.

The goal is to deliver value, have fun and start a dialogue with the local talent pool. Word will spread quickly. We speak from experience. In the last 12 months, STRV organized 45 events that were attended by 3,700 people. (Check out our photo galleries to get a flavor of our developer meetups, beer nights, code reviews and hackathons.)

GET SOME INSPIRATION:

Dev.Beer -- During the summer, we host casual networking events on our rooftop terrace. Because it’s summer break, there is no specific topic or program. We just invite the community to come chill out with us.

Code review / Portfolio review -- Talented developers can come, share their work with our senior engineers and get feedback on their code. There’s no preparation needed. However, the number of code reviews is limited to 10 people per evening.

Developer Meetups -- Our senior developers prepare in-depth technical presentations and share them with the community. This format is very popular thanks to the amount of knowledge shared.

Guest talks -- We invite interesting guests from the tech sphere to participate in a fireside chat. The format doesn’t require too much advanced preparation from the guest. We’ve invited guests from companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Slack, Unity, Dropbox and many more.

Hosting events -- We have allowed numerous community events and conferences to be held in our expansive event space, including inDiversity, Ladies in Tech, Women Startup Competition, Reactive Meetups and Backenders. In exchange, we ask for the guest list and to be advertised as a partner

Trainings -- When we organize internal trainings for our team, we usually reserve a few seats for external folks as well. We recently organized Node.js Nights, a series of eight evening classes geared toward Node.js.

Hackathons -- We’ve organized a couple of weekend hackathons, including an Apple Watch Hackathon and a Smart TV Hackathon. This requires inventing a challenge, securing a venue and refreshments for 48 hours and providing prizes for the winners. Hackathons are a good way to develop a deep relationship with the community.

Summer Academy -- This is a program for junior developers and engineers. Throughout the summer, they attend lectures delivered by STRV experts. They are assigned mentors and work on projects. At the end, they present their work to a jury. Students are part of the STRV family, have dedicated workspaces and enjoy all kinds of perks.

PREPARATION

First thing’s first: Advertise the event everywhere you can -- Eventbrite, Meetup, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, the company blog, email. Just one post or email isn’t enough, and you will need a lot of copywriting. Create good-looking banners and unique branding to stand out in the crowd.

Make sure your best candidates get their own personalized invitations. It should never be just a “hey, come to our party” email, but rather a thoughtful message explaining why this event is worthy of their time.

The most difficult events in terms of preparation (trainings, summer academy or hackathons) have a limited capacity, and we usually have to select the most promising people from those who applied. This can be based on their LinkedIn profile or a short interview.

EVENT

Check your video, sound, recording, live demos, Q&A app and badges in advance. Check the guest list and highlight the attendees who you absolutely want to meet and chat with.

We always organize a small after-party after the event to create networking opportunities. We encourage our employees to attend, too, and hangout with guests to give them a feel of our company culture.

Our recruitment team is always in attendance, but we keep in mind that candidates don’t like pushy recruiters. We make a point of never starting a conversation for the sole purpose of scoring a hire.

This approach has played to our advantage, with attendees repeatedly noting on their feedback forms that they appreciate the laid-back, fun atmosphere that has come to define our events.

We’ve developed a mobile app that connects the guest list with LinkedIn and our candidate database, allowing us to immediately see each person’s background and history with our company.

AFTER THE EVENT

After the event’s over, get your marketing machine going and plaster your social media feeds with blog wrap-ups, nice photo spreads and YouTube recordings, allowing attendees to relive the magic, while acting as calls-to-action for those who couldn’t make it.

We always send a feedback form to every attendee and a personalized message to specific people we would like to stay in touch. It’s a great opportunity for starting a new conversation that can later turn into a hire.

One thing we always make sure to do is immediately copy the registration emails to our candidate database. We suggest using Eventbrite for all your event administration needs.