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Event Reviews: DC Google Meetup and TechCocktail DC 6

by Joe Loong on August 31, 2009

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Here’s a followup to my entry about DC-area late-summer social media meetups; this week, I went to two of the events from the list.

The first was the First Official DC Google Meetup, at the swank Lima Restaurant and Lounge in DC. (So swank, in fact, that a would-be attendee posted to the Meetup event page that he was turned away at the door for wearing jeans. Lesson for us all: Know about the venue, while I am a fan of the “scruffy startup techie” look, remember that it’s always better to be over-dressed than under-.)

This meetup was billed as being open to Google employees, developers, and users (which, practically speaking, means “everybody.”), and featured a few Googlers from Mountain View. It’s apparently part of a Google goodwill tour happening across the country (and possibly the world), stopping in cities where they have a staff presence (and some where they don’t.)

Like all events of this sort, it’s a chance for employees to press the flesh, spread the word, get user feedback and do a little evangelism. As this was mostly a general audience (and not, say, an audience of developers), the presentation content was pretty basic: History of Google and Google products, some PageRank/search 101-type info, and Q&A session featuring pre-submitted Google Moderator-ed questions, as well as live questions from the audience:

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And of course there was a trivia contest, where the prizes were Google Meetup T-Shirts. (Having been on both the giving and getting sides of swag distribution, I shouldn’t be amazed by the lengths people will go to get a a free, prominently branded t-shirt, yet I am.)

The next event was the next night, TechCocktail DC 6, once more at LeftBank in DC. As the name suggests, this was the sixth DC edition of this tech networking meetup started by Frank Gruber and Eric Olson, though it was the first that charged attendees. However, being well-branded and well-known to attendees, I don’t think the ten bucks dissuaded anyone, as it was about as crowded as previous editions (Me, I got comped, not because of a special “in,” but because they’d offered free admission to the first folks to retweet the event info — a bit of directed word-of-mouth.)

When it comes to TechCocktails and similar events (like the various Twin Techs), the draw for me isn’t the demos, but the people. (Partly because it can be challenging having a meaningful conversation in a bustling social environment).

Twin Tech is particularly challenging for me, because I usually know a lot of the folks there, and if I’m not careful, I’ll find myself spending most of my time talking to people I already know, instead of meeting new folks and finding out about new companies and products:

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TechCocktail co-founder Frank Gruber and NetSol’s Shashi Bellamkonda.

This dynamic was in full effect on Thursday, because the AIM team was there, including many of my former cow-orkers [sic] and the revitalized AIM Running Man, so I probably did spend more than my fair share of time with them. (Though I did have an interesting talk with AIM Express lead Shawn Carnell about some not-very well promoted features, including an Adobe AIR-based multi-protocol client that provides group chat, including for SMS users — I will have to try it out.

Anyway, looking ahead, I can already see the events calendar filling up. Remember, folks — if you’re interested in the online space, meeting other thinkers and seeing what tech trends you should be aware of, see what’s going on in your neck of the woods and participate.

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    • http://www.shashi.name Shashib

      HI Joe,

      If I had known that there were T-Shirts at the Google meet-up you might have found me there too :) . All jokes aside it was intersting that companies are coming forward and doing grass roots events. I was part of one for the UnintentionalEntrepreneur.com and loved it. I could not make it since I just got back from #gnomedex and #tbash.

      Great recap thanks.

      Shashi

    • http://www.joelogon.com/blog joelogon

      Simon — sorry you got turned away from the event. I can't speak for the Google folks; they may not have known about the dress code. I'm not much of a club kid and I typically wear a similar “uniform” as you, but from hard-learned experience, when I see the venue is a downtown DC club / lounge, I just assume that there might be a dress code and dress accordingly.

    • http://www.joelogon.com/blog joelogon

      Simon — sorry you got turned away from the event. I can't speak for the Google folks; they may not have known about the dress code. I'm not much of a club kid and I typically wear a similar “uniform” as you, but from hard-learned experience, when I see the venue is a downtown DC club / lounge, I just assume that there might be a dress code and dress accordingly.