What we have learned creating our first meetup.

emocionālās inteliģences un tehnooģiju meetup

By Business Academy student Daniels Rogulis | December 17, 2019 

Last week we hosted the first startup oriented meetup in Ventspils. We’re really happy with how it went and are already planning the next one. We learned a few things about meetup marketing, differences between seminar and meetup, and attendees along the way and are looking to organizing future get-togethers with more confidence. In this post, I will summarize all of that and provide dos and don’ts, tips, tricks and lessons learned.

1. Why you are doing this?

Entering the meetup world just because everyone is utilizing meetup is the number one mistake. If you are not careful, you will receive a lot of backslashes which will ruin your chances to build the “right” audiences for your business or other purposes. Find what motivates you and write it down. In our case, we have just started building a startup ecosystem in Ventspils. Community is the most important thing in the ecosystem, and meetup is one of the places where we can start to build it. 

In case you have an interest in building a startup community, I suggest you read this book.

2. Start by creating an event on Facebook or Meetup.com

It’s easy to start a meetup. It’s not so easy to keep it going and get new members. Make sure you’re targeting the right audience in social media and don’t forget about timing – don’t make it in the last days. People are busy, notify them a week or two before the meetup.

Here’s a guide on how to promote an event on Facebook.

3. Make sure the venue has everything your meetup needs.

I have attended a lot of meetups and events. Often something is missing. Either there are not enough places to sit, technical problems or there aren’t a wide variety of food/drinks for every attendee. You want them to feel as welcome and comfortable as possible. Puff chairs might be a good idea. Also, make sure you have non-alcoholic drinks as not everyone cares to drink alcohol and don’t forget about vegetarians.

4. Feel free to invite sharer.

Having a meetup topic and good sharer who is covering it helps to attract the right audience and engage them in discussions. You can do a video call or just create an open mic form where anyone can apply for sharing a story/ experience. Here’s the site where you can download sign-up templates.

5. Find the right audience.

It’s not about how full the venue is, it’s about how interested in the topic audience is. You can have a successful meetup with only 7-10 people who are active and are engaging with others. 

Don’t panic if someone leaves earlier, they’re not just your audience or they don’t have time to stay longer. This is why the next step is important.

6. Be data-driven.

Measure success and define a few KPIs that are relevant to your meetup and try to improve on them. Here are a few suggestions: 

-The number of questions after a talk?

-How long do people stay after the talks?

-Run a short survey from time to time to see if there are any major pain points you’ve not covered.

Collect your attendees’ emails. You can use them to send an invitation to the next meetups and ask for filling the feedback form. Create a link or QR code to the email form and put it in the presentation slides.

Here are a URL shortening and link management service, and a QR code generator.

7. Meetup is different.

Before you start an event, explain why are you making meetup and tell that it’s not an informative seminar. Conferences are mostly lead by speakers who present ideas based on the topics to be discussed. These speakers are experts in the fields. While meetups look like round tables that each member can contribute to the discussions on board.

8. Don’t stress.

If something went as not planned, don’t stress and panic. Attendees don’t know what you were planning. Instead, try to improvise.

9. Start right in time.

People are busy. Respect them. Starting late is unacceptable in event making because it develops a poor reputation, there’s a ripple effect – if you fail to fit in with time, you may delay someone else from doing their job, and it ruins the attendee experience.

Good luck with your first meetup! Just give it a go and set up your next event.

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This post is also available in: Latviešu (Latvian)