Hosting meetups is a big part of my job as a Quick Left marketer. On a personal level, getting to invite people into my space lets me fill the “Desperate Housewives” in me that rarely gets to rear it’s head in my “real life”. Also, the opportunity to learn new things, be exposed to different ideas and meet with a variety of people motivates me.
Professionally, I get a chance to interact with my community. By design, both of our larger Quick Left offices (Boulder and Portland) are prime locations for meetups. The reason I give up many of my evenings to this end is that I truly feel like I’m providing the users of our square footage with an experience in our brand.
After hosting several meetups, I’ve been able to glean insights into what makes a good meetup, and what meetups I feel most inclined to host.
Here are some of my tips for great organizing, from the perspective of your friendly, neighborhood host!
Promote your meet up
Promoting your meetup is a way to tell your hosts, guests and sponsors that you value your upcoming event. You are inviting people to spend time with you, and you should let people know why they should want to do that.
Each city, type of event and audience has its own, appropriate promotion channels. Testing different channels and messaging to see which resonates most with your objective audiences is a good idea. But ultimately, it’s just about getting a message out there! Choose a channel and post it! “At” mentions to important sponsors and participants is not a bad idea either. Most sponsors and hosts will even partner with you by sharing or re-tweeting what you have posted.
Use and Online Sign up platform
Using a system like Meetup.com lets you communicate with your host and guests about your meeting. You can include detailed information about the venue, speakers, hosts and sponsors.
Meetup has a particularly good feature allowing for attendees to ask questions in an open forum prior to the event. Any doubts can be sorted out from the get-go.
Hosts can use this information to order of food and materials, anticipate audience size/type, and identify returning guests.
Communicate early and often about your needs and desires for your meetup space and hosting organization.
Will you need chairs? Food? Drink? AV Equipment? White board? Name tags?
A wise man once said that when you assume, something happens to U and to Me.
Show up early & offer to help
Most of the time, the host of your meetup is not only a host, but rather a friendly marketer with many other things on his/her plate. Come in early and offer to help set up. Show your enthusiasm about your event and topic. Set the tone for the evening from the get-go. A good host will also bring this enthusiasm to the event, but it’s important that the organizer provide his/her quota as well. If you don’t love your meetup, why are you organizing it?
Adhere to a Code of Conduct
Be aware of how you conduct yourself. Even though many events are after hours, this is not license to act as you wish. Be yourself, but respect those around you.
As the organizer of a meetup or group, you should be aware that you are responsible for the actions of the guests you bring into a space.
Don’t miss opportunities to be grateful.
At the beginning of your presentation, you should acknowledge all of the people who helped make your meet up possible. Attitudes of gratitude foster good things.
Offer to help clean up
Most of the time, a host will say “no, thanks”, or ask for something small, like moving chairs. But it’s the thought that counts. Don’t just assume things will be taken care of.
Your mom doesn’t work at your venue.
Say Thanks! (again) (optional)
Following up with a mailed Thank You card or personal email is an unexpected and delightful part of hosting. It tells your host that their time was appreciated.
This tip is optional, but I have kept every hand-written card I have received since starting this job, because on some level it makes me happy to know I made others happy. That IS why we’re all here in the end, right?
Examples from Caterina of WWC, Lacey & Kenneth of DjangoGirls, and Michelle & Julia of FoodBytes PDX