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Last Friday night I found myself at the Bonham Hotel nibbling finger sandwiches and chatting with a mix of Edinburgh professionals. Networking event, you ask? Not exactly. I was taking part in Impact48, a weekend of collaboration and volunteering focused on benefiting one charity – Music in Hospitals Scotland. Impact48 is “all about creating something that is complete and real; something the charity can take advantage of immediately”, and I’m proud to say that I took part in this successful (and highly enjoyable) pilot weekend.

After meeting our fellow volunteers, we were introduced to the charity and began discussing what we could do to produce measurable positive results for Music in Hospitals. Following this introduction a brief break was suggested, but there was so much excitement in the room that ideas started flying before anyone could move from their seats, and several different directions for action began to emerge. They ranged from conservative to ambitious, from subtle to bold and daring. The collected thoughts were eventually refined and I set off home in happy anticipation of the remainder of the weekend. I basked in the energy and creativity of Friday night, so much so that I almost felt intoxicated!

techies at work

image courtesy of Impact48.org

Saturday morning found a group of us at the stunning Yard Digital offices, sipping some tasty coffee and approaching the previous night’s collection of thoughts and ideas with a eye to feasibility (though with no less enthusiasm).Within a matter of minutes a decision was made about which tracks to pursue; people with the necessary skills were allocated to appropriate tasks, and work began. The team, which comprised of software developers, designers, representatives from the charity and SEO experts jumped headlong into their tasks and worked together very competently  The ease of collaboration was truly impressive, a fact I suspect was largely due to the atmosphere – everyone seemed filled with both willingness and a genuine desire to contribute.

Time flew and to be honest, the hours I spent coding didn’t feel like work at all. At the end of the day, I’d helped pull together a simple yet functional piece of code that should enable the people involved with Music in Hospitals to display their support on their own websites. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take part the following day, but I did stop by the Bonham again on Sunday evening to see how the team had gotten on. The group’s work was presented to a panel of ‘judges’ – all of whom seemed very pleased with the results of the weekend. I’m hopeful (as is everyone else) that what we produced will contribute to the success of the the charity immediately and further down the road.

barry-present-to-judges

image courtesy of Impact48.org

What did I take away from the weekend? Several things:

  • Education is crucial
  • Collaboration is thrilling
  • There’s a wonderful community of generous and talented people in Edinburgh
  • A small amount of my time and skills can actually impact someone else in a big way

Having now worked at Attacat for a few months, I’ve been taught and have absorbed a fair amount of information about internet marketing (even though I’m meant to be a code monkey). Over the course of the weekend, I came to realise that what I’ve begun to take as common knowledge is in fact far more industry-specific than I would have guessed. Having experts on hand to perform site audits and provide a crash course in social strategy and SEO practices provided the charity with invaluable education. Perhaps the information they were given is not a tangible product built by a team in 48 hours, but knowledge and ideas are just as important to a business as fancy widgets and infographics. A little learning can go a long way, which gets me thinking about how Attacat might be able to reach out and share some of its own expertise for a good cause…

I would highly recommend participating in any future weekends like this. Keep up with @MiHScotland and @RealImpact48 to hear about the ongoing benefits of the weekend and plans for future events.

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