AWSKRUG Community Chronicles: Insights from a Community Hero (2/2)

AWSKRUG Community Chronicles: Insights from a Community Hero (2/2)

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Initially, meetups were primarily organized based on location (gudi, gangnam). However, as meetups emerged based on technology categories (serverless, container, architecture, etc.), multiple meetups began to occur simultaneously on the same day.

To address this, organizers share the AWSKRUG Google Calendar to register schedules in advance and avoid overlapping meetup schedules. Despite these efforts, with over 20 active meetups currently, occasional schedule conflicts still occur. In such cases, adjustments are made to the schedule to avoid overlapping events and minimize participant dilemmas.

One day, a gudi meetup event was held with only four participants, including myself (no photo was taken at that time, so a photo of a meetup with six participants, including myself, is used as a replacement). Perhaps topics from other meetups held on the same day were more popular at that time.

However, despite the small number of participants at the gudi event, I realized the advantage of its atmosphere. Thanks to the small number of participants, we could deeply listen to each other’s work, specialized skills, challenges, etc., and quickly become closer. Therefore, now even when the number of participants is small, there is no sense of urgency. Of course, there is still a desire for more people to participate.

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Our meetup collects participation fees, mostly 5000 won (as of June 8, 2024, $3.62). Participation fees are collected to prevent no-shows and purchase snacks.

Each meetup has a treasurer responsible for managing participation fees, and each meetup has its own account. When participation fees are received in the meetup account, the treasurer checks the payment status by comparing the names of the participants who paid the fee with those who applied for the meetup.

However, sometimes there are situations where the participant who paid the fee does not match the meetup ID. In such cases, asking participants to enter their real names in the meetup registration form usually resolves the issue. If the payer is still not identified, DMs are sent to the meetup participants or inquiries are made in the Slack meetup channel.

We have been operating in this way for seven years, but we have not yet found a perfect way to confirm 100% of participant payments. Therefore, we personally verify the payment status of participants until the day of the meetup. The inability to directly collect participation fees through meetup applications seems to be the main reason for this.

According to the security regulations of buildings like AWS Korea, meetup organizers must submit a visitor entry list to the building security team three days before the event. Meetup organizers provide the list of participants to the venue rental manager, who then submits the list to the building security team.

After submitting the visitor entry list, meetup registrations are closed. If new participants wish to join after that, they are sent a rejection message saying, “Sorry, please apply for the next meetup without being late.”

Meetup organizers maintain this stance because they find it difficult to spend time and energy on this process as they are working in their respective companies.

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The snacks we prepare have evolved over time. When I first joined the community, it was mainly one roll of kimbap and carbonated drinks.

Later, we ordered pizza and divided it into 2-3 slices each, and now we prepare various snacks such as toast, sandwiches, and hamburgers.

Due to price increases after the pandemic, there are often cases where the snack order amount exceeds the participation fee of 5000 won ($3.62 as of 06.08), leading to an increase in meetup fees.

Currently, there are two opinions among organizers, and some meetups have raised their fees to provide better quality snacks.

I’m curious if snacks are prepared at meetups in other countries, so please leave a comment.

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I strive to provide positive experiences to participants who join this user group operated by me and other organizers, so they can feel welcomed and gain a sense of belonging, receive courage to present their experiences in front of others, and change their nature to speak up first.

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Like me when I first attended a meetup event, typical Korean participants at events feel awkward and are often embarrassed to showcase their skills to others.

Therefore, we start the event by introducing the meetup and allowing each participant, starting with myself and the organizers, to introduce themselves.

When participants introduce themselves by talking about what they do and what technologies they are interested in, I believe they gain the experience of speaking up in this space, and this experience increases the likelihood of them speaking up during Q&A sessions or networking times after the main presentation. I think it’s much easier than overcoming awkwardness and embarrassment until they speak up.

During networking time, we make sure to have snacks available. We set up snacks at each table so that people can gather around and have conversations while eating.

There was a time when the networking atmosphere was so good that the meetup exceeded its end time. The next day, there was a complaint from an adjacent office worker who was working overtime, stating that the noise from the meetup continued past the scheduled end time.

I feel sorry for the coworker who had to work overtime that day. However, I evaluate the atmosphere of that event as successful.

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Sometimes, after the meetup event ends, we arrange a time to go to a nearby pub for drinks and networking.

Personally, I think networking outside the event venue is a much better opportunity for participants to get closer to each other. Moreover, the satisfaction of participants attending this networking session is much higher.

However, from the perspective of organizers preparing for the event, it requires a lot of energy. There is no guarantee that everyone who attended the event will join the networking session, and if more than 20 people suddenly try to visit a pub, it often becomes cumbersome as many pubs may not have enough space, requiring us to visit several places to find a suitable one.

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The process of preparing meetup events is not easy, especially for those with little experience. If even one participant feels uncomfortable at this event, it can be very burdensome.

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However, after the event, receiving feedback from even one person saying that this meeting was very beneficial brings great satisfaction and joy.

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Furthermore, there is an opportunity to expand one’s network by directly communicating with presenters and receiving technical hints, as well as getting to know passionate meetup organizers who contribute to the operation of the community and have a great passion for AWS technology.

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Being recognized for my consistent activities as a user group leader and being selected as the first member of AWS Community Builder, invited to the 2022 Thailand APJ Summit to meet overseas Community Builders, and being selected as an AWS Community Hero and invited to re:Invent events are experiences that I am extremely grateful for.

I consider it an honor to be part of a community where passionate people from all over the world can become friends, and I want to continue spreading the positive influence of the AWS community to many people in the future.

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