Meetups – groups of people brought together by common interest through an online and social portal – have become a great way to network with the local shared-interest community and a cost-effective way to find a niche market. Granted it requires a little effort to lift-off, but then what doesn’t if it’s worthwile.
The best part of organizing a Meetup group is the minimal cost of customer acquisition. Although signing up at Meetup.com is a free process, you always have the option of charging for your events, which is what many people choose to do.
While the initial time commitment is high, the pay-off seems to be worth the effort required. But isn’t that the case with any networking platform? It may serve you well to begin with a little groundwork to see whether what you’d like to offer through your Meetup group already exists. If it does, then think and search a little harder to see how you can offer something more unique. If your niche group hasn’t coagulated yet, then you’re good to go!
Things to Keep In Mind
1. Look for quiet spaces that can comfortably accommodate the size of the group you’re hosting. Bars and restaurants can be tempting venues, but if the objective of your networking session is to share information and gain contacts, you’re more liable to have a higher success rate if people can hear each other talk.
2. As an alternative to a purely work-related event, consider organizing a Meetup session that’s in tandem with your own interests. Conversation flows freely when it’s centered on informal gatherings. Remember, providing an environment where people feel at ease is equally important.
3. Incentivize your gatherings. People love being able to grab a free deal, so if you’re organizing a series of Meetups that you charge for, consider a rewards program to sweeten the deal.
4. Time Check Working people gathering after hours are tired people. Keep your Meetups limited to no more than 90 minutes, networking and speaking time included.
5. Stay away from the hard-sell. This is a time for you to plug in the issue/topic at hand, not your business. Offer a service for nothing more than a networking opportunity and you’ll generate enough goodwill and leads that you can follow up with.