Regardless of your industry, community matters: Laura Lopez - Technical.ly DC

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Regardless of your industry, community matters: Laura Lopez

It's true, Social Tables' senior community manager would say that. Here's a look at what she learned in 2016.

A blackboard showing all of the community events hosted at Social Tables HQ.

(Courtesy photo)

This is a guest post by Laura Lopez, senior community manager at Social Tables.

As the year drew to a close we looked back at all that has happened in #dctech — this post is part of our 2016 year in review series. See the full list here.


Love them or hate them, yearly recaps make for a concise way to look back on the year: music roundups, the best (insert thing) of (insert year), company achievements, you name it. Admittedly, I don’t really do a good job of celebrating cool things I’ve done in years past (it’s something I’m working on). I did a few of speaking engagements, connected a few people in the process and found that teaching others is a fantastic way to help others and yourself grow.

So in an effort to celebrate 2016’s milestones, thought I’d recap a few lessons I’ve learned throughout the year and highlight areas of my work that I’m proud of.

Regardless of your industry, community matters.

I proudly work in two burgeoning industries in D.C.: craft beer and technology. Although seemingly disparate industries on the surface, they share one thing in common: their communities remain strong because of the members that relentlessly work to keep them alive through continued, shared experiences.

I kicked off the year by hosting the first meetup hosted in the new Social Tables headquarters space, via a #DCommunity Manager Meetup. As most community managers know, we’re commonly lone wolves at the companies we represent, so finding our own birds of a feather is of the utmost importance to share ideas, learn from others and make strides in the industry. Our meetup gathered 20 of D.C.’s brightest community managers representing technology, nonprofits, marketing agencies and beyond.

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Laura Lopez’s crew at Strengths Lab. (Photo via Facebook)

You can’t support a community by not getting involved in it. This year, I proudly mentored 16 students in the highly selective Strengths Lab Entrepreneurship Program through the Clifton Foundation and Gallup. These students are handpicked from a competitive application process and enter into an entrepreneurial program where they learn what it takes to launch a business. I, alongside four of my Tabler colleagues, taught them from start to finish how to plan and execute a successful fashion show to raise money for the students’ venture, the Strengths Lab.

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As you continue to grow in your own role and career, never forget there’s an eager group of people who want to learn from you and grow.

Collaboration, knowledge-sharing and tech will help us all succeed in the years to come.

On the same token, I’ve learned that teaching others is one of the quickest ways to learn. As the senior community manager at Social Tables, this past year offered a myriad of opportunities for me to do that. It’s been a fantastic experience helping event professionals discover and learn how to use technology in order to make their working lives easier. Whether it was through blog posts, as the co-host of a weekly web series, EventIcons, or via a co-piloted hybrid education session at The Special Event focused on 50 technologies that event professionals can use, I learned this year that I’m always up for the challenge of teaching others.

But I’ve seen that teaching others the ways of technology extends beyond the events industry. I saw a lot of this permeate throughout D.C. tech, with the growth of groups like Black Female Founders, Netsquared, DC Python Dojo, and DC Tech Breakfast, all of which seek to empower and mobilize others through knowledge sharing.

Wonder how you can teach someone something useful or be a mentor to others in your community? Opportunities within D.C. tech abound with Women Who Code DC, Code for DC, or the Mentor Method, just to name a few.

Every D.C. tech company, micro community and event helps to put us on the tech map.

If you’re from outside the D.C. metropolitan area (or outside the East coast, for that matter), D.C. may not immediately come to mind as a hotbed for tech but the tides are turning and I’ve learned that we can’t go at it alone. The D.C. tech community has grown leaps and bounds in 2016 and it comes down to the sum of our collective efforts, big or small.

What started off as Social Tables’ lead systems engineer, Michael Dumont, Periscoping a few internal ping pong games turned into a full-on D.C. tech event. A few Tablers and I alongside fellow D.C. tech company Spotluck hosted the 1st Annual DC Tech Ping Pong Invitational (#STIPPI) that brought together area technologists and longtime table tennis devotees for a casual night of networking and backspins.

I also earned the honor to join the ranks as a Technically DC stakeholder. Alongside 20 of the brightest minds in D.C. tech, I’m a part of a bigger, ongoing discussion of the issues we face as a tech community, how we can solve them and what we can learn from neighboring tech microcosms and apply to our own.

It’s this currency of face to face interactions that will continue to fuel D.C. tech’s growth in years to come.

Did you make significant strides in your role this year? Did you learn any lessons that could benefit others in D.C. tech? Tweet them to me @1aura1opez or add them in the comments below.

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