Virtual VMUG Events: A Positive Side to the Pandemic
- Ben Liebowitz
Back in March, when this all began, we were all thrown for a loop! We were forced to make big changes to our lives, including working from home! Many of us in IT were forced to adapt quickly to a fast growing remote work force, having to deploy and/or expand VDI environments, etc.
Those of us that are VMUG Leaders also had to adapt. We had to postpone/cancel in person events, switch to planning online/virtual events, etc. As one of the leaders of the NJ VMUG Group, we had an in-person event scheduled in March that I had to push to May, which then got pushed to 2021.
I switched from doing one in-person event a quarter, to one virtual event per MONTH for my VMUG group! We even had a few companies interested in sponsoring our events, which has allowed me to “bank” some funds in my NJ VMUG Bank for the year/next year.
A few months ago, I heard from Julie with STK Promotions about an idea she was floating and wanted feedback from various VMUG Leaders. The idea was, because of VMUG events being virtual only (for the foreseeable future), we don’t have a way to hand out swag to our members. I have a collection of stuff in my garage to give away, plus money in the bank to order more. Julie’s idea was for STK promotions to warehouse the items and ship them to our members for us. I love the idea and decided to jump in feet first!
I decided to order some MUGS, SOCKS, FACE MASKS, and DOOR PULL KEYCHAINS and have STK Promotions store them for me. They setup a pop up shop for VMUG and I can see each of the items in the shop, with a SAMPLE image of the item itself. I can use this portal to raffle off a few of each at my next event and STK Promotions will box up and ship the items to my members for me!
My next hurdle was… how do I go about picking who wins what? I found a few other groups used sites like http://www.wheelofnames.com. It’s a pretty easy tool to use, your paste the list of names, spin the wheel, and after each spin you can remove that winner so you don’t have duplicate winners.
While I love the visual of the wheel spinning and the name displayed for each win, but if I’m giving away 30-40 items at an event, the amount of time spinning the wheel and all can really make the meeting drag, esp if you don’t win! So we tried to find something that was more INSTANT for everyone!
I did a few google searches and ended up coming up with the URL below. https://superuser.com/questions/999641/how-to-generate-random-string-from-a-set-of-available-strings-in-excel. This site provided a formula that helped me list the 4 items I’m going to raffle off, put them in fields A1, A2, A3, and A4, and then use the formula to choose who wins what.
I then use this formula to choose, pasting it after each name…
At the event, I will gather a list of attendees, likely via a Google Form, and put them into an Excel Spreadsheet. Then, in the column next to the names, I will paste and fill all the cells next to everyone’s names, which will end up displaying what each person won. Then, each person can see what item they can expect to show up at their doorstep! They’ll end up with a spreadsheet like this…
This is something I can easily display via ZOOM and, as long as it’s sorted via alphabetical order, everyone can easily see what they’ve won!
My next NJ VMUG Virtual Event is scheduled for 11/12/2020! Feel free to join us! You can get info on the event by visiting this link: https://bit.ly/36zjZzC
If you’re interested in having something like this setup for your VMUG group, reach out to Julie HERE.
I hope other VMUG groups join the bandwagon, this is an awesome way to share swag with the members of your VMUG community!
Ben Liebowitz, VCP, vExpert
NJ VMUG Leader