When Paul, Michael and I were discussing going to Georgia and we weren't getting any responses on twitter for pings to find someone out there. Jim Bob @jbhoward stepped up and said he'd help me coordinate getting event brite pages up. Why not? Having recently worked with Jim Bob on the Nairobi event, and trying to pull together interest in Dar Es Salaam, we had a secret formula.
The secret formula: Do searches on Linked for "SharePoint" in a profiles and invite them to join the event brite and then tell their friends.
We went from having no contacts to having a handful of contacts including what would shortly become interest from the Microsoft folks themselves. These contacts actually came through Oksana a popular Russian speaking SharePoint MVP and good friend who helped me and Michael in Moscow events (You may have met her at SPC). Oksana Prostakova helped us connect with the local Microsoft team and get on the same page. Microsoft is fairly new in that area with 6 employees in an office that's been there for 2 years.
We had some fascinating conversations with the Microsoft folks about the challenges of piracy in Georgia and how challenging it is to get support from corporate Microsoft around things like getting accounts on Office 365, or getting apps built by locals in Georgia into the Marketplace. It's a market that's often overlooked.
We delivered our sessions in the conference room in the Microsoft offices. I heard it was the largest event they've ever had. What started with a handful of folks on the eventbrite, when we had the backing of the Microsoft folks and with their help in marketing the event including the MCP club of Georgia we ended up with standing room only. At peak I believe we had something like 39 folks who had registered. MS Thanks for the venue and pizza and the green soda.
We encouraged the SharePoint community to organize, and invited a few of them to join us again on Sunday afternoon. I wish them luck as the SharePoint community continues to grow in Tbilisi and beyond!