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The first year running a local Meetup

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Last year we decided to organize a local Meetup here in Aachen called: Web Engineering Aachen. This post should reflect what I have learned, so it may help you create your own Meetup.

Some numbers first

We always said that if 10 people show up on the first evening, our Meetup can be considered as a success. On the first evening 18 people showed up. Our members grew from 0 to over 300 users on Meetup. Which is astonishing, because we started from nothing. We had no contacts to any developer communities and still the numbers grew every time.

During the year the number of users that show up on these events vary from 20-30. Our biggest event had 48 users showing up, which had a no-show-rate below 20%, which is quite good for a event hosted on Meetup.

MeetupImage

In sum 6 events were hosted, so every second month starting from January. Starting with a Meetup every second month, was perfect was because we weren't familiar with the organisation.

Why we created a Meetup

We didn't have an sustainable Meetup or user groups here in Aachen, when I was getting interested in this topic.

Since my time at the university, I travelled together with some colleagues to the Meetup Web Engineering Düsseldorf. The Meetup in Düsseldorf is awesome and if you are nearby, you should pay it a visit!

But its also a 45-minutes car drive away from Aachen. And after 4 years constantly driving nearly every month to Düsseldorf, @another_clue and I decided to create our own little community-driven group.

We always wanted to create a small sustainable little community, where everybody is eager to learn new things and discuss them.

A goal was to make the group a non-profit organisation, so we didn't want to make any money with this group or using any money. Depending on one single company to create this community was a no-go for us.

How to acquire speakers

Write mails. Simple as that. Well that's what I do. I just ask if they would be willing to come to our community and give a talk. Many speakers like these Meetups and Usergroups, they are a perfect place to test new talks or becoming more popular in the audience. But we also try to encourage new speakers. Meetups and Usergroups are the perfect first experience, to find out if talking before a bunch of people suits them or before attending to a big conference.

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So if you are looking for speakers, just ask them!

How to approach companies

Companies are often to willing to host such events and of course they don't do this because of good will. They want to present itself to potential job candidates and/or to get a better reputation in the development community. And that's fair IMO, it's an equal trade. You get something from them and they are getting something from your. Most of the time I just ask the company if they are willing to sponsor a location and some food and drinks. I always try that our members are hospitalized, because we try to challenge the lazy evening on the couch with the partner. This is not an easy task, but the people on these events, are the most intuiastic people you will ever meet. And that's the point you have to sell to those companies: "You are getting the most encouraged engineers, you will ever get in your local area!"

Some companies don't want to spend any money for these events and that is ok, that is why you carefully ask multiple companies at the same time, to decide on the best location for your community.

But don't hesitate and ask too many at same time, because some could get disappointed if they aren't considered as sponsor anymore.

Advertising the events

We created a twitter account for our Meetup where we try to advertise our events: @WebEngAc

We try to post the events:

  • The month of the event
  • The week of the event
  • The day of the event

But what about the people who doesn't use Facebook? Well we also send some Mails via Meetup. But be aware that some people turned of their mail notifications via Meetup.

Facebook and Instagram would be still options, but this would mean extra work for us, coordinating these multiple social media platforms is work we decide against. On a regular base I post the events with a little description to university computer science groups. Posting this on these groups helps reach out to 1-2 or to people, which is crucial in the first month of your Meetup.

What do you do as organizer on these Events?

I try to arrive 30 minutes before the event starts, to talk to the sponsors and help arrange things that aren't done yet. Also try to involve people that seem a bit lost, as mentioned this is a bit hard when you have social anxiety, but you have to do this of you want to have successful Meetup.

Is it hard?

Yes and no.

Its both depending on your personality and your will to organize these events. For me, it was hard because I'm a bit social anxious, which makes it hard to to talk to people. But I also see, this Meetup as I treatment for myself. So just mail some speakers and companies and: voilà, your first event can be planned.

I only can recommend creating a Meetup and organize it.

This will you so much insights how you can share knowledge, what companies exist in your local area and create how to create a incredible community.