Hi everyone,

Is it June yet? I’m ready to see you all in real life. I’m ready to Expo!

Because the Support Driven community is distributed all over the world, it functions in a similar way to a distributed workplace. We communicate and have fun without occupying the same physical space. We share knowledge via text. We build relationships despite the absence of facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. We support each other through hugs, ughs, and laughter using the tools we have: words, emoji, GIFs, and puns.

As a remote worker, I can certainly vouch for how awesome it is to be able to work from home and still feel connected: to not feel alone. I could spend hours chatting with y’all — there are so many things to talk about! — if only we had those hours to chat. So as a remote worker, I can also vouch for how amazing it is when I get the opportunity to see my online peers in real life. Learning from each other and going deep on a particular topic no longer have to be punted due to other pressing tasks: our entire purpose for being together is to learn and share. Conversations don’t have to end because something else came up at work or because it’s time to make dinner: we can take that conversation to dinner.

Another great thing about seeing each other in real life? We get to work and play together. While Expo officially takes place June 21-22, Expo-related activities are starting to pop up on the calendar. Community-led meetups are rolling in, meaning there are even more chances to meet and hang out with folks in town for Expo. Check them out below, and keep an eye on the schedule — we’ll keep adding meetups as they appear on the Support Driven calendar.

I can’t wait to see you in Portland in June!


Only seven weeks until Support Driven Expo — get your ticket now!

Community Meetups

For those arriving early or staying after the conference, community meetups are an opportunity to gather around common interests like food, coffee, beer, and more. As we approach the event itself, folks are continuing to organize meetups: we’ve got three on the calendar so far. If you have an idea for a meetup, please suggest it here.

So far, two gatherings are happening on Day Zero (June 20 -the day before Expo begins), and one is happening at the end of Expo on Friday the 22nd. In addition to the Pre-Expo hike we announced last week, here are a couple more meetups organized this week:

With a rolling start time, we now have a Banter, Beer, and Bites meetup 4:30-8:30pm on June 20. This one will begin at Base Camp Brewing, where it will be Happy Hour until 6pm. Around 6 or 6:30, anyone interested in a change of scenery can wander to Cascade Brewing, and around 7:30 folks will make the short walk to to Rogue Eastside Pub & Pilot Brewery. People are welcome to join along the way. Check out the Banter, Beer, and Bites meetup description for more details and to RSVP.

After Expo wraps up on Friday, June 22, some folks will head over to Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade. Ground Kontrol is an arcade bar with 90+ arcade cabinets and pinball tables including classics and modern games. Meetup organizer, Matt Dale, says, “I’ll probably be camped out near Galaga, my personal favorite, but am hoping to get a group together to play an SD-only version of Killer Queen. For the uninitiated, it’s a 10-player mashup of capture the flag and Joust with three different ways for your team to win.” Ground Kontrol is a bar, so you’ll need to be 21+ and have a valid form of ID to get in. Find more details on the Vintage Arcade (and Beer)! calendar event.

Scholarship opportunity

As Sarah Chambers wrote in her her Expo Scholarship post, “Support Driven is founded on community – and that means no one gets left behind.” We want everyone interested in getting better at support or looking to pursue a career in support to be able to attend Support Driven Expo. Support Driven would like to make that possible by offering assistance via our scholarship program. If you’d like to come and are wondering how to make it work, please read more about applying for an Expo ticket scholarship.

A sampling of sessions at Expo

Here’s your weekly dose of speaker sessions to look forward to at the Support Driven Expo on June 21 and 22 🙂.

Bharghavi Annan

The Art of Having Difficult Conversations
As someone on the support team, we all know that we’re here to help customers. But, what about certain situations when you can’t? A feature that’s not going to be built, an outage, or a bug. There is sometimes no way to prevent a mishap from happening. However, you can be better prepared for a potential mishap with these tips that we’ve collected over the years. These tips can help you handle difficult conversations with customers better. I’ll also be offering bonus tips on how to steer difficult conversations with your team because it’s a happy agent that makes a happy customer!

Kevin Chang

I just became a manager! But now what?
As ambitious people, we always strive to amplify the impact that we make on our team, our department, and our organization. When you become excellent in your role as an individual contributor, the next step may very well be towards people management, where you can extend your abilities to others on the team.

However, just because you are great at the role yourself, it doesn’t mean that you’ll instantly be amazing at teaching someone else how to do the same. Exciting new responsibilities are ahead, but challenges accompany them too: from performance managing your former peers to focusing on teaching through questions to increasing ambiguity in what success looks like for you.

But while the learning curve may be steep, it’s important to remember that your skills rightfully earned you this new chapter of your career and that you don’t have to face the new challenges by yourself. Leveraging your existing skills and tapping into the support system that is your peers will help you push through the learning curve!

In this talk I’m going to share some of my own experiences moving to management: what was new, what was challenging, and how I adapted to my new role.

Alyssa Twomey

Support as a hard skill! Build a department with a solid mission that bucks the “All Hands” trend.
How do you get beyond the quantitative metrics that all Support Managers care about and set a mission statement for your department that everyone can rally around? How do you lift up Support as a key part of your organization’s work, with or without institutional buy-in? Learn how to grow and manage your team’s expertise — without resorting to “All Hands” support.

Alex Mozes

How to sell a Support Vision to your C-Suite
Guidance on how to frame and lead the development of your support strategy and get buy-in from key players at your organization.

Lisa Hunt

Forget “Hello World”: technical skills and how to learn them
Working in support, you probably do a lot of troubleshooting. If you’d like to take your technical skills a bit deeper but don’t know where to start, this talk is for you.

Building an online community from scratch: do’s and don’ts
Online communities are an amazing way for customers to connect with one another, quickly find answers to their questions, learn, and grow. There are many opportunities for companies to reach their customers in meaningful and memorable ways with a community offering.

That’s all great, but let’s be real: Building new communities is hard work. There’s an immense amount of things to consider. What kind of community are you trying to build (Q&A, forum, social, all of the above, or something else)? What are the goals of your community (connect customers to one another, engage with your customers more directly, gain new customers)? How do you put measures in place to make sure your community is inclusive, welcoming, and safe? How will you get your customers excited about your community? Just as important: How will you get decision makers at your company excited about your community?

For over a year, I worked on building a community forum at GitHub with a very small team of amazing and dedicated people. We hit every roadblock you could possibly hit, and we learned where to compromise, how and when to iterate, and most of all, what is most important in building an inclusive, engaging, and positive online community. This presentation is all about sharing those discoveries.

Colin Flanigan

Translation for Support Pros
Learn to use demographic information to write better content for your Help Center, Internal Documentation, Customer Response Writeups, and in your work life in general. Who you are when you’re writing matters just as much as who you’re writing to.

Are you getting excited yet? Grab your Expo tickets, and we’ll see you in Portland June 21-22!

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