Meetup is a Great Networking Platform. Try It Out!
You need to meet people who are working in related fields to your own. You help them, they help you and you might even do business together.
MeetUps are a low-cost way to network with scores of other entrepreneurs. I believe using meetup for local networking would be a great way to interact with other individuals and like-minded entrepreneurs.
How Does Meetup.com Work?
Anyone can sign up with MeetUp.com as an Organizer. It costs $2.99 or local currency equivalent to organize a MeetUp group of up to 50 people.
Occasionally you will come across special offers that will reduce that fee for a few months. The fees are very low when you consider the potential benefits.
Most cities will have one or more thriving entrepreneur Meet Up groups already, so you can reap the benefits that MeetUp.com offers without paying out a single cent.
Most MeetUps are free, though some groups will have a small subscription fee. Some groups organize mostly free meetups, with an occasional paid one. Paid meetups are usually in hired conference rooms and may have a celebrity speaker.
Finding Your First MeetUp to Attend
It is best to test the waters by joining other MeetUp groups that are already active in your area.
This allows you get to know other start-up founders and entrepreneurs socially and through formal introductions without the commitment of running your own group.
You can use enter your interests and search the MeetUp.com site, specifying groups that meet within a certain distance of any city or town.
Check any reviews of previous meetings the group has held. Look for reviews that speak overwhelmingly of positive experiences.
Attending Your First MeetUp
Once you join a group and sign up to attend a meetup you will receive reminders and email updates.
You will need business cards, so make sure you have these printed if you haven’t already.
It is natural to be slightly apprehensive about meeting an already established group of entrepreneurs, but everyone I have met is helpful and supportive.
You will probably be surprised by the amount of help you are offered by other group members, even at your first meeting.
Building Your Reputation
You need to grow your reputation before people will add you as a contact.
MeetUp groups are a great place to grow your reputation because you are helping others in a visible way, where you get to display the knowledge you have built up.
Give your help generously to anyone at the meeting who asks for it. Don’t expect any immediate reward.
Your reward will come in time, and you just have to be patient. Building your reputation is a complex process and there is no simple cause and effect sequence.
Setting Up Your Own Meetup Group
If you have a unique angle that will appeal to a good number of local start-up founders then it can be worth setting up your own MeetUp group.
The costs are reasonable and the potential boosts to your reputation and contacts are enormous and well worth the small fee to become a meetup organizer.
Ideally, your group will appeal to different people as well as to those who are members of more established entrepreneur MeetUp groups.
It might meet for breakfast rather than in the evenings, it might emphasize a different aspect of entrepreneurship or it might be free where other groups charge.
Finding somewhere to meet is fairly simple. Talk to hotel and café owners to ask whether anyone has a room you can use without charge.
Many will be willing to accommodate a group as long as each member buys a drink or food.
Your location needs to be in the city center so public transport access is good for people who do not have their own cars.
When Should Your Meetups Be?
Once a month is not enough, because people will forget or not prioritize your meeting.
Once a week is too often because it is a big commitment for busy start-up founders. Fortnightly meetings work best in many cases.
Most business MeetUps happen on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Avoid Mondays because many people are busy on a Monday and too tired to fit in a productive meeting on top of all their Monday catch- up jobs. Thursday, Friday and weekends MeetUps are usually of a social nature, rather than business networking.
Early evening works well for many MeetUp groups. Many entrepreneurs still have a day job, so cannot attend before 6 or 7 pm.
Saturday morning breakfast Meetups are another option you can survey your group members on.
There is a good messaging system on the MeetUp site, but it relies on members signing up for updates about messages they have been sent.
You should ask members for their contact details, so your communications will not be labeled as MeetUp spam.
Some groups set up private Facebook communities so members will be informed of group activities unobtrusively.
To Sum Up
MeetUp organizers pay a few dollars a month for six months to organize a group on MeetUp.com. You can renew the subscription if things are working out.
It is best to approach MeetUps as a way to help other people and build your reputation. This will lead to more tangible benefits to yourself over time.