Founded in 2002, Meetup is a fantastic platform for organizing in-person activities and meeting people in your local area. Meetup makes it easy to find people with similar interests and is a great way to make new friends or grow your connections.
Hosting a Meetup group is a great way to position yourself as a leader in your local area. Whether you plan to host a social event for making friends or a business event for connecting with others in your industry, Meetup groups are brilliant for developing a community in your local area which can be helpful for growing and developing your brand.
As the host of a Meetup Group Thoughtful Connections Valencia, which now boasts nearly 800 members after less than a year, I decided to share some of the top lessons I've learned from the experience so far.
1. Choose a relevant topic
Pick a topic that interests you and that you feel passionate about. This can be anything from a hobby to a professional field to a social cause. Research existing groups in your area and see if there's a gap that you can fill. Alternatively, you can start a group that complements an existing one, but offers a different perspective or approach.
At the Meetup group I run most popular event is known as Introverts Social Club which frequently sells out within an hour of going online. The best topics are those which really resonate with people and solve a need people have.
2. Create a clear mission
Your group needs a clear purpose and mission statement. This should be succinct and easy to understand. You can use this to communicate to potential members what your group is all about, what you hope to achieve, and what the values and expectations are.
This goes beyond “what” you do and starts exploring the “why”. In the case of Introverts Social Club, many introverts do like meeting people but only in certain circumstances: small groups, quieter environments, less “small-talk”. So the clear mission of the group is to serve introverts by providing a better space for them to connect with others and to help overcome loneliness.
3. Define the format and frequency of meetings
Decide on the format and frequency of your meetings. Will you meet weekly, monthly, or quarterly? Will there be a set agenda, or will you allow for open discussion? Do you need a guest speaker or expert to lead a session? Make sure you communicate this clearly to members so they know what to expect.
As with many creative projects, consistency is key. Try to make sure you host events on a regular and consistent basis so people come to expect and look forward to it. This way, you also start to build up a group of regulars which can be the seeds of forming a local community.
One of my favorite books on the subject is The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker which explores how to build gatherings with purpose.
4. Choose a convenient location
The right location can make all the difference. Depending on the size of your group, you might need a larger space like a conference room, a coffee shop, or a park. Consider accessibility, parking, and public transportation when choosing a location.
For larger locations, you might need to pay to hire the venue. It’s important that this cost is factored into your plans and offset by either charging a fee or by getting sponsors. Smaller locations, such as coffee shops or bars, are often happy to provide their location for free as long as attendees come and purchase drinks while they’re there.
5. Promote your group
Once your group is set up, it's time to start promoting it. Use social media to create a presence, share your mission statement and upcoming events, and engage with potential members. You can also send out email invitations or post flyers in your community.
This also depends a lot on how active Meetup is in your local area. Some cities have a very active meetup network so new groups and events are discovered very quickly. If your town/city has a quieter network, it will be more difficult to get started.
When you first create your Meetup group, meetup tends to notify members who have joined similar groups that your group exists which can provide great initial traction for the group.
6. Build relationships
Finally, it's important to build relationships with members. Consider hosting social events or happy hours, and take the time to get to know your members and their interests. This creates a sense of community and helps build long-term relationships.
Don’t see Meetup events as an opportunity to sell or promote your product or service, but rather as a way to connect and learn more about people in the local area.
In summary, organizing a successful meetup group takes time, effort, and dedication, but it can be a rewarding experience that fosters creativity, growth, and collaboration. Being the organizer of a meetup group is a fantastic opportunity to become a leader of a local community. As well as growing your own network, it helps teach you many lessons about organization, marketing, and event organizing too.
Thinking of organizing your own event? We've got lots of fantastic event templates that could help.