Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Wanna Be a Buddy, Guest or Participant? @vconnecting 

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It’s been a year and a bit since Virtually Connecting started, and people still ask what we mean by terms like “buddy” and which person is the “virtual buddy” and such. I remember that a year ago, when someone said “I am the onsite buddy” the others would say mock-indignantly “well I am Maha’s buddy, too” and I would joke that we were all buddies.

But for the sake of clarity…and hopefully to invite more people to join our growing community… Let me clarify (and we are working internally on making our processes more explicit and visible so it’s easier for others to make sense of them).

We call people “buddies” at VC if they are part of the planning/organizing of VC in some way. Usually our buddies participate in our Slack team, and join channels for events they plan to help organize. Whenever we have an event planned, we create a channel for the conference, a Google doc for all the different sessions we plan to do during the conference, and names and details of how it will run.

This post is just going to clarify what buddies do.

  1. Onsite buddy is the person onsite at the conference who will help bring the guest to the virtual audience via their device. They coordinate with conference organizers (or go guerilla) to find a good space for the convo and facilitate the discussion. The onsite buddy also maintains a backchannel with the virtual buddy for their session. An event can have multiple onsite buddies but usually one takes the lead. It usually helps to have a second onsite buddy to take photos or backchannel on Twitter or bring in guests who walk in late
  2. Virtual Buddy is the person who runs/records the Google hangouts themselves and invites virtual participants into the session and helps facilitate the conversation from the virtual end. It usually helps to have a backup buddy in case the main one has an emergency or to keep a VC person as backup to help out on Twitter to livetweet or help out in case there are folks late to the hangout. Virtual buddies play an important role in making participants comfortable before a session starts and ensuring virtual participants get opportunities to speak. Often, a convo will continue after onsite folks have left, and Virtual buddies often stay and keep the video live during these conversations 
  3. Logistics/Blogging/Google/Twitter buddying. This is a heck of a lot of work that most people don’t know happens at VC. Someone (sometimes the lead onsite buddy or lead virtual buddy or both or neither or me or whoever) does these things at some point. They are a lot of things, including reaching out to potential onsite guests, coordinating times guests and buddies are free, updating Google doc with all that info, creating hangouts in advance, creating a (very time consuming) blogpost that lets people know what times we plan to meet whom and invites them to join virtually (with a timezone converter and embedded video link to make life easy) and says a word or two about our guests. Then some of us who have access to VC Twitter monitor that for requests to join sessions and register folks for them. We often intentionally go out and invite anyone who favorites a tweet or retweets it. 

Getting tired here just thinking of all the work that goes into all this!

So to re-cap, if you want to be a buddy and help organize sessions and do some backchannel work, http://www.virtuallyconnecting.org/join-us

If you’re onsite and would like to connect with us, be our guest (and sometimes we have virtual guests we invite also) 

If you’re virtual and would like to join a see,just let us know and hopefully there will be space for you to participate 

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