I attended my first Silicon Valley Tweetup the other week and overall I have to say, this is one of the best uses of social media I have seen.
For those who haven’t jumped on the new social bandwagons there is a group based here in San Jose known as the Silicon Valley Tweetup. It’s based around a group of Twitter power users who group together once a month, the third Wednesday of each month, in order to raise funds for a local charity organization. The past meetup was hosted by Rosie McCanns for Relay for Life and by 7:30pm the venue was overflowing with Twitters.
The format is pretty simple. The group contacts any venue that can hold between 10 to 250 people peek and has their meeting there. On arrival guests are asked to donate $10 at the door to the charity being highlighted that evening. Flyers and workers of the organization are available to discuss what the organization does and how they help different groups. At this last event I learned that Relay for Life is a group dedicated to helping those going through Chemotherapy and Radiation live healthier lives through exercises and diets appropriate for those dealing with cancer. They also have post-remission based groups that help those who currently do not have cancer and want to curve the risks of any re-occurrences.
While the donation is optional, it is usually worked out with the venue that those who donate get their first drink free. All of the money at the door goes to the charity group. Once inside various sponsors, companies and individuals are invited to have their booths within the venue or speak during the brief thank you portion of the evening. The event lasted from 6pm to 9pm and around 7:30pm is when the founders of Silicon Valley Tweetup thanked everyone for coming and allowed their sponsors and Relay for Life to talk briefly about what they do.
From 8pm until 9pm it was mostly a mixer, with the venue reaping the benefits of the Food and Beverage purchases of their guests and many of the Twitter users mingling and exchanging contact information. During my time here I was able to meet a man named Arvin (not sure if I am spelling his name correctly), while he had never experienced cancer first hand he had many friends who had been affected by this disease. I was able to meet with a couple of the sponsors, visual search engine provider LeapFish and a financial organization offering 401k and IRA information. There were others from Cisco, Tumble and Robert Mondavi as well.
I left a little early, around 8:30pm as it was a work night for me and I had an early morning meeting the following day, but in my brief time here I was very impressed with the turn out and how social media is being used to help make life better for others. As someone who uses social media mostly as a way to push out information or connect businesses to customers, it was refreshing to see an alternative use that benefits others.