The Meetup Playbook
So you think you’d like to start a meetup, eh?
We’re pumped for you, and want to do everything we can to see you and your community succeed so we’ve created the ultimate meetup playbook that covers starting, planning, and growing your local meetup.
We’ll help you define the ‘why’ behind the meetup, and then give you key insights on how to get started. From there, we’ll walk you through both planning and promoting your meetup so it’s not a party of one… and then ultimately we’ll help you grow the meetup so it continues to meet your goal.
Ready to dive in?
First things first…
what’s a meetup?
A meetup is simply a gathering of people with similar interests. It’s a community of people that care about the same thing. Your interest could be coding, playing guitar, designing, making craft cocktails, you name it!
…And it doesn’t have to be something you’re a professional at or even something you know a ton about… it’s simply choosing to intentionally gather a group of people who want to talk and learn about your shared interest.
defining your ‘why’
The first step to starting your meetup is to ask yourself why.
Why are you’re starting a meetup?
Is it to meet others in your industry?
To give back to the community?
To learn something new?
All of these are great answers, but its good to identify your why before jumping in so that you can define what success looks like for your meetup as every meetup is different.
choosing your goal
The ‘why’ behind your meetup will help you clearly set a goal.
If success looks like meeting others in your industry, maybe your goal is to gather at least three new attendees each gathering. If your goal is to learn something new, maybe your goal is to provide one educational aspect to each meetup by inviting a speaker or teacher.
No matter what you choose, make sure your goal is simple and easy to define so you can see the progress and impact you’re making.
…And not only will your goal help you define success, but it also sets the tone for everyone that’s attending. By stating your goal from the beginning, an attendee will know exactly what to expect, setting them up for a great experience.
While hosting a meetup certainly requires your generosity of time and talent, there’s also great reward in leading a group.
By gathering with those that share similar interests and passions, your bound to learn new tips and tricks of the trade that may never have discovered. You’ll also benefit from hearing one other’s experiences so that you can skip that particular obstacle and move faster in your own career.
…And if that wasn’t enough, you might just meet your next best friend or business partner. Who knows the possibilities and potential of the relationships that you’re forming today.
(Don’t trust us? Check this out.)
Let’s Get Started
Still game? High five.
Now that you’ve defined your why, let’s get started with some of the basics…
Choose a name
With your goal in mind, brainstorm a list of names that clearly identifies what the meetup is about so someone new can easily understand if your meeting is right for them.
It doesn’t need to be fancy or clever (although bonus points for those that do) but something that’s simple and easy to remember. '
For example, Gustavo wanted to start a meetup for those that code, so he named his group ‘Code Connect.’ His name has the shared interested directly in the name so the community knows his meetup is for those who are passionate about coding.
Again, the process of naming your meetup can become super daunting if you let it, so remember to free yourself by being understanding a straight forward name is okay.
(If you don’t believe us… check out all these meetup names.)
how often you meet
To avoid a quick burnout, think about how frequently you want to host a meetup that both serves the community and keeps you energized.
For anyone starting out, we recommend meeting together once a month so that you can build relationships while being consistent. Inconsistency is the worst thing that could happen when building up a community, so find a routine that is something you can accomplish at a steady pace.
Because remember, you can always meet more often if you like… or even find another leader to join you… but consistency is key for achieving your goal.
Who’s the leader
Now you may be thinking this is an obvious question at this point of the game, but as we briefly mentioned above, you might decide that you and a friend should share ownership of the meetup.
If that approach is something that will benefit the meetup’s success, don’t be scared to co-lead a meetup with someone that shares the same interest and goal at hand.
By having a co-partner, you’ll be able to maximize each of your strengths and avoid burnout.
If that’s not a route you’d like to take because you’re the go-getter type of person, that’s totally okay, too. Just make sure whomever the leader is, is clearly defined before jumping in.
submit your meetup
Wahoo! Now it’s time to share your meetup with the Makewell Team.
Fill out this form here to let us know what you’ve brainstormed so we can get your meetup on all of our platforms to help you succeed by spreading the word.
By promoting the meetup as a larger community, the awareness will increase and everyone wins.
(Have some questions before submitting? Don’t worry! Fill out the form as best as you can and we’ll help you from there.)
The Planning Begins…
We’ve developed a quick check list so that planning your meetup can be easy peasy:
1. Choose A Date + Find A Venue
When choosing a date, make sure to check the community’s calendar to make sure something of your audience’s interest isn’t happening at the same time of your meetup. Meetups overall are about community over competition, so find ways to collaborate and partner alongside other events.
When looking for a venue, keep the estimate number of people in mind so that you can find a space that’s comfortable for everyone. Meetups can also be as casual or formal as you’d like to make them, so whether its your garage or the grand hotel, simply find a venue that fits the needs of your group and don’t let it become a barrier.
Timeline: We recommend completing this step about 5 weeks before your meetup.
*Optional: Find A SPONSOR
While sponsors definitely aren’t required to host a meetup, they can be helpful if you’d like help with the cost of renting a venue or the expense of any food or beverages you choose to provide.
The best way to find a sponsor is to reach out to organizations or individuals that believe in your meetup’s chosen focus so they can take part in making it successful while also sharing about their own endeavors.
When you confirm a sponsor, make sure to be clear as to what they’re receiving for the value they’re generously giving. Whether its a shout out on social media or an announcement at the meetup, identify that so you’re on the same page.
Timeline: We recommend completing this step about 4 weeks before your meetup.
2. Create A Facebook Event
The easiest way to get your meetup out there in front of the right people, is to create a Facebook event. They’re free, easy to find, and groups like Makewell can share them with their audiences for further promotion.
To create a group, you’ll need the details mentioned above as well as a cover photo. Here are some great places to find and create imagery for your event:
A simple photo can go a long way, so do what you can and get that event published.
Timeline: We recommend completing this step about 4 weeks before your meetup.
3. Spread the word
In an ideal world, simply creating a Facebook event would get people to show up, but with all of today’s social networks and ads, it’s hard to get our ever-decreasing attention spans to pay attention.
(In fact, on average it takes about 9-11 times of saying the same thing to see results. So don’t be shy!)
Here’s some ways you can promote your meetup:
1 Million Cups in your local community
All social media networks (share away!)
Invite friends/colleagues to the event directly
Post updates within the Facebook event page as the date approaches
All of these different approaches will help you and the community promote your meetup to reach the right people.
Timeline: We recommend starting promotion 4 weeks out and continue to do so until the day of the event.
4. Send A Reminder To Guests
If you’re using Facebook or another event tools like Eventbrite, take advantage of the ability to message your attendees to remind them of the details of the meetup. Make it fun, add in a funny .gif of sorts, and kindly invite them to the meetup and include any details they should know.
Your attendees are looking to you as their guide, so make sure they feel equipped by answering any questions and informing them of what’s expected.
Timeline: We recommend messaging attendees 2 days before the meetup.
5. Message All vip’s/Vendors
As the meetup gets closer, do a simple check-in with anyone that might be speaking, bringing food, or involved in any capacity so everyone is on the same page. This is a great way to solve any last second hiccups before the day of the meetup arrives.
Timeline: We recommend messaging all VIPs or vendors 2 days before the meetup.
Alright, everything should be ready to rock!
It’s Meetup Time!
Everything is in place and people are arriving… the excitement is in full force. Now it’s time to be the best host you can be. Here’s some tips to serve your attendees well.
Every moment leading up to this has been about prepping this or prepping that, but now its time to set that all aside so you can greet your guests as they arrive. Greet them as if welcoming family into your home as your guests have chosen to spend their time with you and the community you’re building. Smiles go a long way…
Bonus Tip: Personally reach out to any new attendees before the meetup to make them feel extra welcome.
The easiest way you can develop trust with your attendees is to be a good listener. If they have feedback for you, be open. If they ask a question you don’t know, be transparent. You aren’t expected to be the expert above your attendees, but rather another participant, so engage and share conversation.
time to network
No matter the format of your meetup, make sure to schedule some socializing time so that everyone can get to know one another before the main portion begins. This lets everyone get more comfortable, and encourages deeper discussion later on.
Just remember, nobody is expecting a perfect host… what they really want is a generous, authentic leader who’s willing to join the conversation alongside their peers.
You did it! (Nobody cut their hands off and it was a wild, good time.)
So now what?
There’s a few simple steps you can do to prepare your next meetup up for success.
Just as you greeted everyone on their way in, try to be the last person they see on the way out. Make sure to thank them for hanging out using their first name so you can remember it for next time.
message no show’s
Look back at anyone who RSVP’d ‘going’ and see if anyone didn’t come so you can reach out and let them know that they were missed. Stay positive and leave them a little note. This simple act of kindness will go a long way.
Announce the next event
If you can, get something on the calendar in advance so you can announce the upcoming meetup while you have everyone’s attention in person. This gives them something to look forward to OR let’s them help brainstorm a topic if you don’t already have one picked out.
Time To Retro
Nice work! Your first meetup was a success (well mostly because ya know… we’re all figuring things out) so it’s time to reflect and see how everything went.
Here’s some questions to help you improve your meetup:
What went well?
What could be improved?
These four simple questions will keep your ideas focused so you can ideate on how to continually improve your meetup. If you have co-host or close friends that attended, feel free to invite them into this conversation to get feedback from them.
Bonus Tip: 1-2 days after the meetup, send a short survey to your attendees if you feel their feedback would be valuable to this process. Simple tools like Google Forms are easy to use and completely free.
You made it to the end of the ultimate guide because you’re a rock star… and because you love talking shop with folks that just ‘get it’.
Like anything else, the more meetups you host, the easier and more natural it will become, so give yourself some grace, listen to feedback, and keep at it!
The Makewell team is here to help with any obstacles along the way, and are excited to see your meetup succeed. Feel free to reach out with any questions!