Exactly 5 years ago today, on February 28, 2008, Julius Solaris launched what has become LinkedIn's largest group for event industry professionals, Event Planning and Event Management. At the time, Julius was based in London (UK). He promoted the group through regular Meet-ups and his popular Event Manager Blog, another one of his trailblazing innovations... the first blog for event planners .
The growth of the group has been nothing short of explosive and it's accelerating. Currently, over 5,000 new members are joining the group each and every month. This is double its rate of growth just one and a half years ago.
The main group currently has over 113,000 members from every corner of the globe and 12 subgroups focusing on everything from social media to sales and marketing. With 10,550 members, the Social Media and Event Technology subgroup is larger than many LinkedIn Groups. There are 5 multi-lingual regional subgroups for event planners in Canada, Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia. The Career Advice subgroup and Student Forum provide quick access to career tips.
It takes a dedicated team of volunteers to run and grow a supergroup. I have been involved as Group Manager informally since December 2008, when there were 4,000 members; and formally since April, 2009 when the group had doubled to 8,000. Pornwadee Karow of Epsilon Registration is the Assistant Group Manager and 16 other subgroup managers and moderators help Julius run the vibrant online community.
I recently caught up with Julius to reflect on the success of the group.
What made you decide to start the Event Planning and Event Management group?
Julius: It looked like there was a need for a LinkedIn group for event professionals. I believe I was right.
Were you surprised by the growth of the group?
Julius: Initially I was surprised by the growth - I knew there was a need for event professionals to network but I could not imagine so many people joining. Today I am surprised by how we resisted competition inside and outside of LinkedIn. We are the de facto largest online community for event professionals, which is an amazing result.
To what do you attribute the group's success?
Julius: The strength on my moderation team and dedication of these wonderful individuals. And a bit of vision on my end.
What have been the biggest challenges in growing the group?
Julius: Managing a team of volunteers you've never met face to face and getting to 100K Members
What advice would you give to brands interested in building successful on-line communities?
Julius: Build a community online only if there is already a community of customers. I knew that the event professional community was vibrant so I just captured that need in an online form. If your customers do not feel like a community, do not try to create one, it will be a failure.
How do you plan to celebrate the anniversary of the Event Planning and Event Management Group?
Julius: A message of gratitude to my mod team and to the members.
Do you have any speaking engagements coming up?
Julius: Yes I will be at Event13 in Utrecht, Event Tech Circus in Amsterdam and very likely IMEX America
What's ahead for Julius Solaris?
Julius: The launch of our new Multiple Event WordPress Theme, Januas. It took us a year to develop it, I am very excited for it.
For more on the journey to building the biggest community for event planners on LinkedIn, check out 40,000 Event Lovers Cannot be Wrong and 10 tips on how to Manage a LinkedIn Group by Julius Solaris.
Consult LinkedIn Groups: 15 Strategies to Grow a Supergroup in Cvent Event Blog.
Photo Credit: Julius, Solaris, Event Manager Blog