We found it very helpful to have a solid vision and a pretty detailed rollout plan. So, we had a pretty good idea about 3 months ahead of time, what all our pre-launch activities would be, and what were all the things we wanted to have in place before our first meeting.
Vision sounds like super-corporate thing, but for us it was the literal definition of the word – we talked about what we wanted the first United By Data meeting to look like. We decided that it was very important for us that it would be a small group having informal conversation and providing support and advice to each other. We then fleshed out this vision, and decided we would meet at on the weekend, during brunch hours, at a local restaurant or coffee house. We also decided that it was important for us that United by Data would be tool agnostic, and focused more generally on any data-centric career.
We knew that the biggest challenge would be building awareness. So, our pre-launch activities were focused on getting the word out through a variety of channels.
- Setting up a website – to provide general information about UBD, but also for updates and to promote upcoming events
- Social media – setting up Twitter and a LinkedIn group, as additional channels for communicating updates and promoting events
- Announcing our launch and promoting UBD events at the Phoenix Tableau User Group
As part of our launch, we also developed and conducted a jobs survey. We thought it would be a fitting way to start our group – by contributing to reducing the gap in available data on gender equity in data-centric roles. We launched the survey at the TUG meeting right after announcing the launch of UBD. It was a great way of building awareness for UBD, as well as for the survey. It was also a great way of kicking off UBD in general – at our first meeting, we talked about the results of the survey, and what other questions might be useful to ask in the future.
We had additional meetings every other month, and we had a few core members who returned, but also some new faces. After launch and our first meeting, we basically just promoted new events at TUG meetings, as well on social media. Most of our meetings were set up like the first – just very informal chatting over coffee. We also did have a very successful interactive resume workshop, which seemed to attract some new faces (and younger faces – some students from the local university).
From a logistical perspective, we also set up a meetup account. Just like with TUGs, this was crucial in providing people a way to sign up for events and managing attendance.
Finally, getting the financial support of the She Talks Data grant. First, it helped with the initial administrative costs, such as setting up a website and meetup account. But even more importantly, going through the application process really forced us to articulate our why’s for starting United by Data, as well as the change we hoped to contribute to and how we hoped to do it.