Help me make my Meet-Up group Awesome!
October 20, 2015 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Sooo.... I joined a Meet-Up group. The organizers stepped down a few days later, and I was the only one who offered to take over... Which means I am both a new member and now organizer of a group of 200+ expat families! I am new to MeetUp generally too. What can I do to make this MeetUp group *awesome*?

I am getting tips from the previous orgnizers, going through comments on past meetups, and have introduced myself to the group (and asked for tips, etc). I'm sure there are some folks on the Green who've attended great/failure MeetUp groups who'll have some more tips and advice. I won't threadsit, but I'll pop back in if there are questions I need to answer to make this question more useful. Cheers!
posted by jrobin276 to Human Relations (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a heavy meetup user, and I love it as a tool for meeting people:

It sucks for meetup attendees if people regularly sign up, but don't show up. I was in a live music meet up back in NL, and more than once I got to the show to find that only the host and I were there. The best meetups groups I use remove people if they no-show without cancelling more than once.

Regular meetup events are good-- I tend to ignore groups (even if the premise is interesting) if they don't have regular events at intervals predictable enough that I know I can count on them.

If you arrange a meetup at a public event, make sure you arrange for people to actually meet each other. I've seen a lot of variations of 10 people agree to meet at a festival or carnival, but then the host doesn't bother to organise how to meet or interact. So then you have 10 people who didn't really want to go alone wandering around by themselves with no real way to meet each other.

Meetup is wonderful when it introduces people to the kind of things they wouldn't or couldn't do on their own. I belong to a great group here in Hong Kong which takes people to churches and sacred spaces all across the SAR and arranges a docent who can explain the history and what we are looking at-- geeky, but I really love it.

If it's a sport meetup-- hiking/running, for instance, then take fitness levels and experience into account. Make sure that you clearly set the criteria for joining the hike or run and don't let people stay in the sign up list who don't have the experience to do the route. Also, don't let people bring friends in these kind of meetups and send them home if they do it anyhow. It sucks to be doing a challenging hike up a mountain and to end up having to go back because someone brought a friend who didn't wear the right shoes.
posted by frumiousb at 7:07 PM on October 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I run an LGBT meetup group of about 700 people, with 2 other organisers. Aside from being responsive to messages and comments on events, the biggest way the meetup group goes well for me is encouraging members to suggest and host events so I'm not expected to be hosting several weekly or monthly. I have 3 recurring meetups hosted by me and/or another organiser, and then multiple others, recurring or one off organised by members.

I also reached out to other groups in my area with the same interests, and do joint meetups with them.

It is super rewarding to run a meetup group, especially for a potentially marginalised group of people who will appreciate a space where you can be more your true self.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:41 PM on October 20, 2015

This is more from running a regular, non-'Meetup' meetup:

Say where you will be meeting, when you will be meeting, and how you find/identify the rest of the group.
I've seen far too many meetups advertise a meetup in a new venue, and nobody says where. Oh, 3rd floor? That's obvious!

One thing that will get more people coming over time, but sometimes confirming less through the online meetup group, is a predictable date and venue pattern.
We meet 7pm, every 2nd Thursday of the month, at X Cafe by the Blue Table. No need to check is or isn't it on this week!

Send a monthly reminder, week to half-week before reminder, and night before reminder (not sure if MeetUp does that automatically!).

Have a sign. If you've forgotten a sign, fold a piece of paper in half and write the group name on it with a pen and pop it on a table. I'm the sort of person who'll just bowl up to a large table of people and ask if they are the right group, but make it easier for people who are shyer.

Sit so you can see the entrance, and later in the evening, move round so you are on the side nearest the entrance, because it's your job to see people tentatively 'hovering' and welcome them to the group. Keep an eye out for newbies, introduce yourself, find out what brought them to the group/their interests and try and properly introduce them to at least two other other people in the group.

Introduce and then introduce the *topic* that brought them to the group. It's pretty common for meetups to end up just as random social chit-chat, but if there is a particular topic that is bringing people together, making sure people, especially newbies get to cover that topic, will make people feel a lot more positive about it. This may sound obvious, but it often won't happen by itself - people will just find themselves discussing the latest movies, tv etc (which would be fine in a film group!). So find what people are concerned about - visas, language classes for kids, places for stay at home Mom's to socialise, introduce them and bring the topic up. People like to be helpful, and show off their hard-earned knowledge, but you have to really explicitly give those opportunities.

Follow up with a 'great to meet you' thing on Meetup.

Get used to introducing yourself to everyone, basically, and trying to 'matchmake' between people who will have good conversations.
Most people will break into groups of 2-5 to have little conversations amongst themselves. Make sure people are arranged so that this is possible, especially in regards to noise.

Dealing with people who crowd everyone out, or talk loudly across the table, shutting all other conversation down:
This will eventually happen, and can ruin other peoples enjoyment of the evening.
Identify people who don't realise they are doing this, figure out the people they'll have the best time talking to (if you've got two, each other!), or just notice when they are having a conversation with one other person with 6 people sitting quietly in between them, and sit them NEXT TO EACH OTHER.
Easiest way to do this, just build a reputation of moving around the table a lot to 'catch up with'/introduce people, and as soon as they start talking to someone at the opposite end of the table, get up, and ask everyone to "Oh hey, I'm going to catch up with people over there, hey why don't we all shuffle over so X can talk to Y?".
Asking people not to shout across the table has seemed ineffective in practice, so just establish a norm of getting people to move round/mingle.
posted by Elysum at 2:54 AM on October 21, 2015

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