Philly Tech Week: Silly & Social Edition

Philly Tech Week is almost here. 

Around this time of year, one of the most common questions I get is: 

“Which Tech Week events should I really go to?”

The simple answer would be, “it depends on what you’re interested in.” But even that answer kinda sucks. There are hundreds of events in less than 10 days, which makes it impossible to go to everything you might be interested in, even if you have nothing else to do. 

So my #1 advice is to get outside of your bubble. 

Your interests?
Throw ‘em out the window during tech week.

If you’re going to take advantage of the most densely populated calendar of tech events you can get during the year, go to something you’d never go to. Pick a topic you know nothing about, and go learn something new. 

But more importantly meet people you’d never otherwise meet. 

You know how they say Philadelphia is a “city of neighborhoods”? Well thing about having awesome neighborhoods is that people tend to not leave their neighborhoods. They don’t have to…their neighborhood has everything they could want.

Except it doesn’t. Philadelphia is the 5th largest city in the country and it’s full of people that you’ve never met before. 

You don’t know who they are. 
You don’t know what they care about.
ou don’t know what they know, you don’t know how they can inspire you and help you. 

Philly Tech Week is the same way. There isn’t one tech community in Philadelphia, there are dozens, if not more. But I’m willing to bet that you never leave your little “neighborhood”. 

I’m guilty of this too. We all are. I realized recently that Indy Hall’s biggest weakness might be that, like an amazing Philadelphia neighborhood – diverse, supportive, and prosperous - it’s so good that some people forget to get outside of our bubbles. 

In fact, that’s our top priority at Indy Hall for this year and moving forward. We’re even restructuring our memberships to support it. 

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about Philly Tech Week, getting out of your bubble, and meeting people in the tech communities beyond your tech community.

Who Tech Week Is For

I force myself to remember that Philly Tech Week isn’t designed for me, or people like me. 

I – and a lot of the people who will read this post – are active and involved in our tech communities 52 weeks a year…including Philly Tech Week. 

But there are many, many more people for whom Philly Tech Week is the first or the only time they’re exposed to our communities. Many of them don’t realize the countless amazing events our community organizes across Philadelphia the other 51 weeks of the year. 

How do we change that? I believe that a part of the answer is to take our Tech Week events a little less seriously, and to go out of our way to create space for people to get to know each other beyond their common interests in tech. 

When people build real relationships, they are many, many more times likely to want to come back much sooner than 51 weeks later. 

So Below, I’ve embedded an agenda that includes 17 events that, as far as I can tell, are purely social. No demos, no pitches, and no lectures. 

I probably won’t go to all of them, but that’s not the goal. 

My suggestion, instead, is to make your goal to end Philly Tech Week having met just one person you would have never met inside your bubble, and make a meaningful conversation with them. 

Really. Just one. Anybody can do just one

But first, there are some issues with my list:

  • Too many of the social events are drinking/bar events. While I’m the first to admit that I enjoy spending time in a bar, I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that a lot of people don’t enjoy this kind of socialization. We also have a massive under-21 population among the tech communities, and very few means of socializing with them 

    I think we’d benefit from shifting to dinners instead…or lunches, or breakfasts, or afternoon snacks. I’d love to see more community meals (not meetups/talks during a mealtime, but actual group meals). Urban Geek Drinks at Frankford Hall does an incredible job every month of creating an event that is diversely attended and a ton of fun and puts the focus on making connections with people you probably wouldn’t otherwise meet. I’d encourage everyone to learn from what they do.

  • “Alex, you’re wrong to say that people can’t socialize at an event just because it’s not a party. My Hackathon/Lecture/Panel/Expo is totally social.”

    I’m not saying that at all. People can socialize anywhere.

    My challenge to event organizers is to design community events, not just run events “for” the community. This article has a plethora of tips for designing community events that people love and remember. Use it, live it, love it, and tell me what you’ve changed and the impact it made. 

Above all, Enjoy Philly Tech Week however you want to, my friends. 

If you see me at one of these silly social events, please say hi…especially if we haven’t met in person before. 

Oh, and if I missed an event, let me know in the comments so I can add it to the calendar!

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N3rd Street branding being used by the big boys

It’s been almost 6 years after moving Indy Hall  into our first Old City clubhouse, and just a few years after publicly sharing the name N3rd Street for our corridor dubbed by our friends at The name began as more of a colloquialism, and less of a branding effort, but much like Indy Hall’s name (which has a similar legacy), it seems to be sticking.

Today, I got an email in my inbox from PIDC, one of Philadelphia’s largest economic development entities. They’re selling off a property at 2nd and Chestnut and are highlighting N3rd Street as a selling point for the neighborhood.

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Indy Hall Community featured in Select Greater Philadelphia annual report

Yet another piece of printed recognition for our community to be proud of: Select Greater Philadelphia (one of the region’s main economic development and marketing entities) just published it’s annual report. Included in it is a highlight of the city’s growing coworking ecosystem, and Indy Hall gets multiple major shoutouts. Flyclops gets a nod as well. Photos of Indy Hall by Chris Dawson are plastered all over the place (with appropriate credit, of course).

A big part of the earliest goal set of Indy Hall was to put Philly “on the map”.  While reading this report, I was reminded of this scrap of notebook that that outlined some of our ideas. If only I could go back in time and show 2007 Indy Hall what we become.

“Collaboration = Brotherly Love” “The first city to attend SXSW as a city, not JUST as individuals” “Sharing the best of Philly with the best in the world”

Congratulations, gang. It’s you that they love.

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