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The 2010 #WaukeshaTweetup

June 11, 2010 my daughter Lillian was born, which allowed me to take some time off of work.  Enjoying the time I was able to spend with my wife, and new baby, I quickly learned how much of a non schedule babies keep.  I found myself up at different hours than I was used to helping to care for the new addition to our family.  I loved every minute of it and still do, yet as I had down time I found it harder to rest and or sleep as I wanted to watch Lillian constantly.  To this day I am amazed by her beauty curiosity, and innocence.  Along with the down time I had while she slept, I had time to think about relationships a lot.  Relationships with my wife, newly formed family, friends, online connections, ect.  I thought about improving those relationships, making new connections, networking, and bringing people together.

One night, while watching my daughter sleep, the idea for the #WaukeshaTweetup was born.


Now that I had a few weeks off from work, I started to think about a local venue in Waukesha County that was both on   Twitter and that would be seen as a top class establishment.  I immediately gravitated towards Piano Blu on Pewaukee Lake.  Having dined there in the past I knew it had the atmosphere that others would appreciate, had great food, and a spectacular view of the Lake from the private room upstairs (The Rhino Room – getting its name from the enormous Rhinoceros head mounted above the fireplace).  I emailed the owners about my idea for the event, it was quickly embraced and planning commenced.

Together Penny Schultz (Marketing and Event Planner for Piano Blu) and I came up with a plan of what this event could and should look like.  We also partnered with a Local Social Media trainer Katie Felten, of MKELive, to both bring more awareness to the event and be a resource for guests that had questions on social media.  In my opinion this was a great move seeing as how Katie is so well connected in the Milwaukee area, she helped us spread the word to our neighboring community to the east.  Going into the event the restaurant set a goal of 20-25 attendees and a date of 8/4/2010 was set for the event.  After the initial planning meeting we had 1 month to promote the event.  Go time – The Twtvite went live!  As the restaurant was relatively new to the social media space, I took the lead promoting the event through Twitter, and was amazed at just how quickly the event was embraced by the online community.

Within two weeks of the invite being sent out and the event being promoted on Twitter we had already achieved the goal of 20 confirmed RSVP’s.  Both myself and Piano Blu were very excited, and starting to think of ways that we could enhance the event even further.  On the restaurant side, Penny began to formulate a plan with the Chef for what to serve our guests at the event.  As we still had some time before the actual event, she  helped to plant the seed with Chef and get him thinking about what to prepare.  Knowing in addition to food we needed great signage and name badges, I reached out to Chris Sherman (@Amerisign) owner of Amerisign and Graphics for help with these.  He gladly partnered with us to make these items, and they turned out top notch. I can’t thank Chris and his team enough for the work they put into the items for The Waukesha Tweetup.  If you have a future printing need yourself I highly recommend you work with Chris Sherman at Amerisign and Graphics – They will not disappoint.

Fast forward – one week until the event.  We are now @ 60 plus RSVP’s and the tweets regarding it are becoming more frequent.  Penny of Piano Blu and I are texting regularly now, updating each other on new names to the list.  Needless to say the excitement of the event has taken over.  I continue to promote the event via Twitter, and get the support of the online community to help spread the work and keep the interest high.

One day before the event – We received a surprise from one our local area businesses, North Shore Bank (@NorthShoreBank).  Tim Gluth (@tiglu) and Kate Knox (@LAXgirl) of North Shore Bank contacted me regarding the possibility of contributing some door prizes for the event.  Up until now it was not really discussed as Piano Blu and I were focused on ensuring we had a solid menu as well as people in attendance. To be honest, I overlooked the importance of having some give away items for our guests.  Tim and Katie came through in a big way for the #WaukeshaTweetup rounding up several great items from local business for us to raffle off at the event.  North Shore Bank, Dunn Bros Coffee, Attitude Sports, Footprints, and U.S. Cellular® were the businesses rounding out the donors for the event.  I cannot thank Tim and Kate enough for their efforts in securing these items and helping to enhance the experience that our guests had while in attendance at the #WaukeshaTweetup.

Additionally with one day until go time we added 15 RSVP’s to the list bringing us to 75 guests. At this point, I cannot believe the interest that resides within in the Twitter community!  I also start tweeting about the amazing Tapas items that Chef Oscar of Piano Blu was going to be serving our guests.  The menu to follow below:

  • Bronzed salmon w/ avocado aioli.
  • Braised Duck Breast w/ a “sexy” berry reduction on jasmine rice.
  • Sweet Potato Fries Served w/ Caribbean aioli.
  • Artisan Cheese Display (Assorted local WI cheeses served w/ crackers, grapes, & assorted nuts)
  • Wild Mushroom Potato Pan Cake Served w/ tomato carta basil relish.
  • Mini Blue Crab Cake atop mixed greens, topped w/ onion crisps, & chipotle tartar sauce

 

The food tweets alone were a big hit, as they received many positive responses, re-tweets, and created even more excitement around the event.  So much so, the morning of the event we were @ 83 RSVP’s.  Not a bad go around for us first timers hosting what is shaping up to be one of the biggest tweetups around.

Nervousness sets in now – they’re all signed up but will they show?

August 4th 2010 it’s #WaukeshaTweetup Time. I arrive about 4:30pm at Piano Blu to help set up the upstairs room we have for our venue.  I am excited to see the amazing view of the lake which spans the entire length of the Rhino Room. Impressive I thought – really stoked to hear what our guests will think. After minimal setup we were ready, and 6pm could not get here quick enough.  I was so anxious to see if all of our efforts would in fact pay off. Now 6pm the Twitter community of Waukesha County swarmed on Piano Blu where guests arrived in groups.  Over the next hour we would welcome 75 unique Twitter characters to Piano Blu and the #WaukeshaTweetup.  I could not be happier, and I am certain that Piano Blu felt the emotions I had experienced as well.  After all, here are 75 people all with large circles of influence that are now experiencing all that the restaurant has to offer, from the amazing food and cocktails,  to the exceptional atmosphere the restaurant has created.

Live tweets are being displayed on a plasma TV by the bar, which is drawing quite the crowd.  As I look around I notice several people every time starring at their smartphone tweeting about the event, the food, the venue, or the wonderful person they just met face to face.  I saw a statistic later that night – that the hashtag #WaukeshaTweetup was in the top five trending topics for Wisconsin that evening.  For me this is what the event was about.  I could some it up in two words – building relationships.  Those same relationships I was thinking about while watching my daughter sleep just one month ago, are now becoming real.  Not only just for me but for all of the other guests too.  People are connecting – I have done what I set out to do.

I made it a point to engage with everyone who attended in some way, albeit difficult as it’s hard to work a room of 75 people in three hours and have effective and meaningful conversations with each of them.  I did my best to make sure that all guests felt welcome, and that they had the opportunity to participate and network face to face with those they follow in the online world.  In the time I spent mingling, I observed an amazing energy in the room as people were connecting in robust dialogues about life, children, business, food, Piano Blu, and of course Twitter.  We paused briefly during the event to raffle off the fantastic prizes from area business.  I called upon our good friend Jim Raffel (@Raffel) to help us with our door prize raffle which received a laugh from the guests.  He did a great job – and thanks for being a good sport Jim!

Just as fast as the event started, it came to a close. I glanced at my BlackBerry® and noticed it was already 10pm.  We had a few remaining guests enjoying some wine and engaging in conversations about what else, you guessed it, Twitter. Tom Snyder (@Triverguy) had busted out the laptop and was giving a clinic on his preferred Twitter clients to the small group that remained.  I sat in for a moment, absorbed what I could, and eventually re-connected with Penny Schultz of Piano Blu.

Together we recapped the event, discussed what went well, and what we would do different the next time.  Both of us agreed on one thing though, the success of the #WaukeshaTweetup.  Never in our wildest dreams did we think the event would grow to this size and receive the support from the local businesses that it did.  From the bottom of my heart I want to personally thank each and every one of you who came out to support the event, donated your time or resources to make it happen, or simply just tweeted about it.  It was because of your efforts the event was a smashing success.  Thank You.


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