Nowadays, a lot of people look towards the internet when it comes down to networking or special interests. But you don’t have to meet virtually anymore, thanks to Meetup. If you haven’t heard about this service, you’re in for a ride.
What is Meetup?
Meetup is a site that allows people to, well, meet up. It has gotten extremely popular in the last couple of years, reaching over 32 million members. These members are organized into different groups, according to the interest they’re meeting up for – there are about 290,000 groups in 182 different countries – so don’t worry about availability. As I’m writing this text, there are 10,000 people meeting up.
There are many possibilities as of group creation:
- People that speak a particular language
- Expats in a new country
- People working in the same field
- People passionate about the same thing
Meeting people with the same interests than you can help you professionally and can also generate new business opportunities for your freelance business.
Why you should organize meetups as a freelancer?
You might be saying – “Alright, that sounds fun, but what does it have to do with freelancing?” One of the most important things freelancers struggle with is building up a network. And there is no better way to build up a network than to meet with people face-to-face, exchange ideas and talk about your freelancing passions.
Forget about dull conferences that only take place once a year, have a lot of stuff that doesn’t really interest you and are always trying to sell you stuff.
Meetups are focused on specific topics and full of people who want to exchange their experience. According to Meetup’s site, there are currently almost half a million members visiting meetups about freelancing.
Being a part of meetups alone can be quite beneficial by itself, but organizing them gets you to the next level. By putting yourself out there and setting the agenda, you are essentially doing a public service.
This will ensure people are grateful, remember your name (great for your personal brand) and altogether boost your reputation greatly.
Convinced? Here’s the 7-step-guide on how to organize a meetup.
Organizing a Meetup in 7 steps:
1. Research other meetups in the area
Before you start your own meetup, the number one question you should ask yourself is: “Is somebody else doing it already?” You want as few competitors as possible while still being relevant and interesting.
Make sure to check out what Meetups are already taking place in your area.
2. Visit a couple of meetups
Secondly and especially if this is your first time hearing about Meetup, do a little bit of reconnaissance work. Go to a couple of Meetups that sound interesting to you and are targeted at freelancers. This will help you judge expectations, see what works and spot things that you’d like to do in your own Meetup.
Tip: Go on your own. Going to a meetup alone will increase the chances of interacting with other members in the meetup who might have been coming to many events. This is great to get first-hand feedback on what people like.
3. Pick the right topics
We’ve already touched on one detail about picking what your Meetup is going to be about – as few competitors as possible. You obviously also want to pick something that you’re interested and knowledgeable in.
You can pick up to 15 topics when creating a Meetup – check out the site’s suggestions, they are usually pretty good!
4. Look for sponsorships
Organizing Meetups is not free, although it is extremely cheap at first. For up to 50 members, the site charges 10 dollars a month. But you might want the unlimited option which costs $15, and you could have to buy some additional tech depending on the type of Meetup you’re hosting and so on… The point is – the numbers can add up.
Finding a sponsor, like a big company involved in the topics you’re talking about or something similar can be a good way to minimize those costs.
5. Chose a format for your event
There are a lot of ways to organize a Meetup. If it’s a smaller one, group discussion might be something that works. If you want to discuss a variety of topics that all require a different kind of expertise, guest speakers are likely the way to go.
Don’t be afraid to mix it up either, that will make sure your Meetups never go stale.
6. Find the right venue
When you know what topics your Meetup is going to cover and what format it’s going to do it in, it’s time to decide where it will be taking place. Bars and restaurants are often chosen locations, especially during the week when they’re more likely to be empty.
Make sure to explain to the owner what exactly you’re planning – a lot of locals are thrilled to have a regular group of people hanging out there and buying drinks!
7. Test your setup in advance
You might be doing a presentation, slideshow, something with a whiteboard or using microphones during your Meetup. You will want to test that setup before the meetings take place. Go there an hour earlier and make sure everything works.
Meetup competitors: Alternatives to start your meetup
MeetUp was born in 2002 with the goal of bringing people with the same interest together in a real way. Since then, technology has changed a lot and new platforms were born with almost the same goal.
These are a few platforms and other options that are currently connecting people:
- Evenbrite: Surely the best known and especially interesting from a professional point of view. It is also free to attend events.
- Facebook Events and Facebook local: Who does not spend time in this worldwide known social network? The options of reaching others with your interests in your city are very high and also has no associated costs.
- Techevents: This option is especially interesting for our most technical freelancers since all the events are about technology: Crypto, DevOps, etc.
You can always explore local options as well. For example in Poland, Crossweb is a very interesting option for IT professionals.
Have you visited any Meetups or hosted one yourself? How did it go? Tell us your best Meetup story in the comment section below this article!