Human beings are social animals. If you work online, it’s really great to get away from the computer and meet people (we’re talking real life here).
Meetup.com is the world’s largest website that facilitates face-to-face meetings. Amazingly, while you’re reading this there’ll be 5,000 Meetups going on in some part of the world. Meetup.com uses the internet to get people away from the internet. Crazy!
I absolutely adore Meetup groups. They put your faith back in the internet and humanity. You realise not only that there are people like you out there, but also, that they live in your city as well.
Remember what Napoleon Hill said, “no two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third”. With that in mind, I created the London Entrepreneur Support group.
A real life connection trumps an online connection every time. So, now we know these face-to-face gatherings are cool, how do you start one?
Decide on your Meetup group’s purpose
You may be interested in something (for me, entrepreneurial activity) but is there a Meetup already in your city that caters for this? There are plenty of fantastic entrepreneurial and business groups in London (I’d been to most of them) so I called my group the London Entrepreneur Support group focussing on help and encouragement.
Decide on your Meetup group’s venue
In London there are thousands of bars (we call them pubs) with upstairs rooms that don’t get used much. Plus they love Meetups as they bring in the customers. As I’d been to so many Meetups before I just picked the best venue out of all of them.
Decide on your Meetup group’s date
It’s good to keep these groups consistent so people get into the habit of going. So make sure you can book the same venue at the same time of the month (or week if you want to be really regular). My group meets on the second Tuesday of the month.
Start your Meetup group
As you can see above, you’ll be invited to add the location and the group “topics” to start with. Spend a while picking these “topics” as they will be the keywords with which your potential attendees will find you. You may pick up to 15 and they can be changed later.
You’ll then be confronted with another short form with only 4 fields, as you can see below:
You should also spend a bit of time here, writing an inviting group description and deciding on what you attendees should be called.
Oh, you have to pay, I’m afraid. But hey, what’s a few bucks a month in return for starting a real life community? Some people will eventually charge for Meetups although, personally, I’m going to keep my Meetup free. But, the price of running one is really nothing.
And, that’s it! Congratulations, you’ve just started your own Meetup group.
You can then spend a bit of time branding and perfecting your Meetup group page so visitors can see that the group is loved. See the above video on how to do that.
Schedule your first Meetup
You can wait for people to join your fledgling group from the site. But I couldn’t wait, I scheduled one straightaway.
You may like to pick a theme for your first Meetup or a format. You could have a guest speaker and a presentation with questions. Or you could just have chatting and networking. Explain what to expect as you schedule the Meetup as members will receive this in an email.
Promote your Meetup
Your Meetup group will live or die by the effort you put in to promote it – especially at first. You can not rely on Meetup.com to provide the members for you. You have pull out all the stops and use the online klout you’ve been building up all these years.
Stop at nothing to market your Meetup. Here’s what was most effective for me:
- I emailed my mailing list (6,000+ people). This was a bit cheeky as only a small fraction of my list live near the Meetup, but it turned out to be the most effective way of marketing. As well as promoting the first Meetup, I should have said that subsequent Meetups will be held monthly so people should join even if they can’t make the first one. But I forgot to do this. D’oh!
- I sent out several status updates to my personal Facebook account as well as on my Facebook page. Facebook ads would be a good idea as well.
- I turned to Twitter several days before the event and sent out several direct messages to friends.
- I personally emailed people I knew and begged them to come (I have no shame).
What to do on the day of your first Meetup
What did I learn from hosting my first Meetup?
- Don’t panic!
- Put out signs (see above) at the venue so people know where to go.
- Getting a great venue with free Wifi would be the holy grail of the Meetup organizer. Instead I spent ages working out how to tether my MacBook Pro to my Samsung Android and, in the end, no one used it.
- Bring name tags. They’re a bit embarrassing but they do help if you’re bad at remembering names.
- Bring pens and pads of paper. Maybe. Although people now like to write notes on a smart phone app.
- Bring your business cards. People still use business cards.
- Get a smartphone with a decent camera and remember to take some photos as they can be uploaded later
- Turn up early and get a friend to turn up early so you don’t sit there thinking no one’s turning up.
They work! I met some really great people and cemented relationships with old friends.
The London Entrepreneur Support group
The London Entrepreneur Support group is a group where you can come and chat about their challenges and goals. Everyone is welcome, no matter what stage of the journey they are on. It’s all free. No selling. Just entrepreneurial support.
“The mastermind will give you absolute protection from failure”
– Napoleon Hill
I arranged the first ever Meetup in The Windsor Castle, 23 Francis Street, Victoria, London, SW1P 1DN and we’ll have one on every second Tuesday of the month, at 6.45pm.
I’m really grateful to everyone who turned up. Some were regular contributors to the blog here, others were people I’d met through other London meetups, some friends and others who’d found the meetup through Meetup.com.
If want to come in future, it would be great if you could register on the Meetup group.
“How do people achieve their heart’s desire and still feel the excitement and passion that come from aiming toward a goal? As they approach what they’ve pursued for so long, they immediately establish a new set of compelling goals. This guarantees a smooth transition from completion to new inspiration and a continued commitment to growth. Without that commitment, we’ll do what’s necessary to feel satisfied, but never venture outside our comfort zones.”
— Anthony Robbins, Awaken the Giant Within, p. 306
You can do it
The new economy dictates that we concentrate on improving our online profiles. This means creating meaningful relationships with other individuals in our niche. Paradoxically, one of the best ways of doing this is by going offline and meeting people face-to-face.
Yes, OK, I’m lucky. I live in London – the best capital city in England with over 10 million amazing people. But, I think wherever you live – especially if you live near a city with a population of over 100,000 – it’s perfectly possible to arrange a meetup with like-minded souls and create a real community.
You can do it. Just think of what theme would bind your tribe together and head over to Meetup.com and set up a group. Use the internet to get away from the internet!