I currently run 3 meetups in NYC hovering around 2,500 members. My baby being the NYC INTERNET MARKETERS.
Here’s my $0.02 on ways to separate your meetup group from the noise.
1. Scope out the Field
Before starting your own meetup group, head out to at least three meetup groups that run events similar to what you want to do. There’s a reason that the NYTech Meetup group has over 38,000 people— they’re doing something right and they have really great leadership from Jessica (@jessicalawrence), Andy (@CholoCouture), Saron (@saronyitbarek), and Vinney (@vinneycavallo). Head out to the meetup groups, like NYTech Meetup, participate, and see how a successful meetup is carried out.
2. Pick Your Topics and Focus
For example, you decide to focus on three things: latest technology, education in that technology, and something cool your business has been working on. Breakdown the night so you have time to focus on each item. Keep in mind that the average attention span of a goldfish is 8 seconds, and the people attending your meetup won’t be much longer. Don’t have a speaker go on for longer than 30 minutes if you can help it.
3. Select a Great Name
It’s like picking a domain name. Selecting the right name will drive traffic to your group. Pick something that is targeted enough, concise in that it describes your meetup group accurately, but not too small.
4. Have An Itinerary, and Stick to It
People want to know what you’re offering, and what the night will be like. Also, it’ll give them an idea of how to fit it in with their own schedules. Of course, schedules can change, but ideally create your itinerary and stick to it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve attended meetups and people get upset that you said it starts at 6:30 but really the first speaker only got up at 8:00 after they traveled an hour in rush hour traffic and left work early. “Keep em’ Happy” and they’ll keep coming back. Always include an agenda for the night which includes a description of the presentation(s) and a short description of the speaker(s) that include links to their Facebook and Twitter pages.
5. Plan Ahead and Have Backup Speakers
Always have three or four meetup ideas and speakers in your back pocket. Scheduling early will reduce the amount of conflicts and will also create a sense of stability to the people that will attend the meetup. They’ll know you’re serious about delivering and in turn will come back and tell their friends about it. Also, consider having more than one speaker at each meetup. If something comes up and they are unable to attend then at least you have one or more speaker to save the day.
6. Advertise Your Business (Without Advertising It)
Whenever you host a meetup, always have someone from your team speak after the speaker you bring in. In a sense, you are “1-up”ing the first speaker.
7. Beer, Beer, Beer, Food, Beer
This should be sponsored by you. People come for the food and this is a major draw. Gauge how much you need before a couple of days before based on how many said they’ll attend. And the best part is that beer never gets old. If you have extra you don’t have to worry about wasting money. Stick to the favorites that everyone likes: Heineken, Corona and Blue Moon.
8. Review and Follow Up
Review, follow up, and reach out to those that attended. If you know what to improve from the attendees you can constantly improve the meetup. Also, try and get those with influence (lots of followers/friends) to promote the group. For example, Noah Kagan (@NoahKagan) who happens to be on my top 5 favorite entrepreneur list. Spoke at the GrowHack meetup in New York. Doing a good job will get them to promote you which in turn promotes them. This includes sending emails to thank people for attending.
Set up a consist time. People will know when to expect the meetup, and there will be no surprises for anyone. Also, it gives people a sense of stability and confidence that you are going to deliver a fun and informative event.
10. Focus On People
Don’t bother people with sponsors and trying to sell to them. It will come if you bring in good speakers and meet the people there. Remember, your business logo and website will be a sponsor on the meetup group page. This will drive a lot of traffic to your website and encourage people to reach out to you.
The above seems to be a good start but don’t forget to learn and switch it up if something could be working better.
Leave a comment on how your meetup stands out.