#EdCM, remembering the first time

Tomorrow is Friday and I’m already looking forward to #EdCM. It’s the perfect way to start a Friday with some gentle networking with relaxed and friendly fellow geeks.

#EdCM stands for Edinburgh Coffee Morning and it’s held every Friday morning from 8 – 9 am at Centotre on George Street. It was started by the legend that is Mike Coulter waaay back in 2007  and was initially attended by a handful of local meedja and creative types. From day one the atmosphere, venue and company clicked and it has grown from that day, taking up just a few chairs, to what now occupies almost the entire venue for that fabled hour.

I wasn’t there that day, although I do know half the people who were. No, my first time was in March this year. I had already attempted to go once before but bottled out because I was just too nervous, I generally don’t like networking you see.

When I did make it, I vividly remember walking in and being confronted by a room full of people, all highly engaged, chatting to one another. The atmosphere was great but I couldn’t see a way in. There were no seats at the top table and I kind of stood around for a few seconds feeling like a plum. I spotted a table of 2 and took a deep breath before pulling up a chair with them. I was so nervous. What if they could see right through me and realise that I don’t know what I’m talking about? What if they don’t like me?

Worse. They ignored me. Neither of them looked up, locked as they were in conversation. I was lost, I very nearly walked out right then. Seconds passed which felt like minutes. I looked around the room again. Another half-hearted scan to see if anyone looked more receptive.

And there she was @BigEars had seen me come in. She could see my network-shy distress and she smiled. A beacon of hope, she made room for me and invited me over. I was saved! We talked about social media, about smart telephone systems, about nursery runs and who know what else. She introduced me to some other people and when I left I was hooked.

I’ve not missed many since then, just one or 2 and I really do miss it when I’m not there. I’ve spoken to @BigEars a couple of times since then but generally I meet someone new every week (along with an established bunch of regular faces). There’s always geek chat about the latest developments, there’s usually nonsense chat about pretty much anything else and occasionally there are cakes (awesome cakes, thanks @MacFack).

So, I got to wondering about other people’s first times. I idly tweeted about it and here are the responses:

First visit was a bit of a strange one as it was the quiz. I ended up on a team with Jon Mountjoy and a couple others (memory is a bit hazy). Was on the top table so in amongst the main crowd. Plenty of banter. I actually spoke to more people through the day on twitter than at the coffee morning. I think that’s probably the day I first experienced firsthand the collaborative potential of twitter. Mike carried on the quiz throughout the day, plenty banter, discussion, cheating and arguments ensued! :-)
Geoff Kennedy (@idle_bull)

My first visit to EdCM was the Social Media Quiz way back in March. First impressions were slightly intimidating, the place was packed to the rafters with people who I didn’t know and they were all be fairly rowdy with some competitive banter being bandied about. I introduced myself to the Big Man himself (Mike) said I’d never been before and didn’t have a team and was promptly chucked together with some other people who were also team less. I know @D_ward, @geoffballinger and @miss_wordsmith  on my team though I have no idea what the team was called.

I wanted to come back because I had a good time and it was good to meet new people but I’d felt that I hadn’t had the full experience with it being a quiz.
Kelly Forbes (@Macfack)

I remember my first time. It was the stop motion video day. My arrival is recorded LOL! I remember meeting lovely Mike Coulter.
@BigEars

Had to be really brave walking in, but one of 1st people I met was @queens_hall who was so kind and chatty, the rest is history.
Danielle Ellis (@Ellisdanielle)

 #EdCM memories. Just how many times I thought of going before finally pitching up…and then…never looking back. Every week, no problems.
Tim Barlow (@timbarlow)

For me I was a little nervous, but left feeling inspired and desperate for the next one.
Mike McGrail (@mike_mcgrail)

So all were broadly similar to mine. Like all events like this, it’s not easy to step over the threshold but #EdCM is almost unique in that it actually proves to be worth the effort. Not only is it a very worthwhile exercise in building a network of like-minded people but it is also nourishing in many other ways, not just because their bacon rolls are divine.

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5 responses

  1. Awesome post Barry: tear in my eye, lump in my throat, pride in my chest. I know it’s a cliche, but Coffee Morn really is made by it’s members who bring it on home @centotre unfailingly at 0800 every Friday. And the only other thing I’d add is a massive shoutout to Carina, Victor & the wonderfully patient and professional staff at 103 who put up with us week in week out. m

    1. Thanks Mike. You really have created something quite unique and you’re right, the venue and staff play a massive part in that. There’s a spirit to the thing which sweeps one along, something that I can’t quite put my finger on. I’ve nurtured contacts, found clients and made friends at #EdCM, I just wish Real Life was always so effortless.

  2. You know I’m surprised that you didn’t draw a parallel with Twitter. People knowing each other, difficult to know where to start, whether you should pitch up at all.

    EdCM helped me to see what Twitter is all about – relationships. Up until then it was all about CPD, what I can get and a bit of broadcast thrown in (which is selfish too). Finding out that there were people who were interested in sharing for the sake of it and who having met were actually interested in each other was a bit of a revelation.

    The Coffee Morning is more than the sum of its parts (all due respect Mike C), it’s a community and the high point of my working week.

  3. I have it in my diary that my first attendance was not until 19th September 2008, for some romantic reason I thought it was before then – I do remember however that my first discussion was with @memestorm “The Professor” about the merits of providing paid for content free by advertisers buying your data (woops still banging that drum) There was also @hazelh, @mrhyde, @jamieclague, @ewanmcintosh and possibly others. And we fitted quite nicely into the first booth on the left as you come in the door.

    I dug out this link to a piece I wrote about it in The Drum December 2009:
    http://thedrum.co.uk/blogs/colingilchrist/2009/12/06/fancy-a-coffee-morning/

    I can honestly say it has been an invaluable experience and one of these days I will go round everyone and thank them personally. Long live the micro-blog, Long live #EdCM, Long live our King @mikecoulter!

  4. [...] some changes in my work patterns but I think it’s safe to say I’m back. I made it to #EdCM last week for the first time this year (I KNOW!) and I’m finding time for Twitter again after [...]

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