Disclaimer: This post was automatically published a few hours after the event so let's hope everything went according to plan.
I recently had the opportunity to organise a meetup, that revolved around the idea of knowledge exchange and community building. I've had this idea for a very long time. Ever since I was working with the team over @koding, where I helped grow the community and before that, when I was in collage, because I couldn't find any clubs or meetups of like minded people around my hometown.
But you may ask why a real life event, instead of creating an online community? Because when you're meeting people face to face you have a better understanding of what they're trying to communicate with you, whether it's feelings of disagreement or just want to share knowledge with you.
This was my first time organising an irl event. Bellow are the steps I followed when I organised the Sibiu Web Meetup.
In the case of the meetup I organised, I wanted it to be free, with limited seats (because, well, it's not a conference), for anyone interested in web development, web design and all other web related topics. All skill levels are welcome, this includes students, juniors and senior devs. It should be a meetup that revolves around the idea of knowledge exchange and community building. Also this could be a monthly meetup or every two months (still haven't decided on this aspect).
When you start putting the event together, make sure you inform your attendees about all the things that you want to achieve with your meetup and share as much details as possible (when, where and why).
Now let's talk about the actual details of organising a meetup.
The first thing I did, was to see if anyone wanted to talk about the web, at a local meetup. Luckily I have some friends that have held talks in the past and have extensive knowledge about the web. I presented the idea and told them that they're free to talk about anything web related and after some proposals, we came to some consensus on what the talks should be about.
Ok, talks, checked. Now I needed a place to host the meetup. Enter the local university, that was more the gracious into providing a room for the meetup and as an added bonus the students from the Computer Science major would be invited and would get a chance to meet professional developers and gain some knowledge from the field, something I didn't have when I was in collage. Students being able to connect with professional developers is something beneficial to both parties. On one hand the students learn something new and on the other hand professional developers get to share their knowledge with someone else. I know you can find people online that are more than willing to help out but it's something different when you actually meet someone in person.
Place, checked. It was now time to let people know about the meetup. So a small social media campaign was started. This included sharing on all the social media channels and printing some ads for the university to use, so that students could find out about the event. In terms of attendance, I wanted it to be a small gathering of people, not a full fledged event, like a conference might be. If you let them know about the event they will come, even if it's just out of curiosity.
Bellow is a checklist that I've put together, with ideas that I implemented for the meetup, things that you should not forget about, when organising an event.
The most important aspect of the whole event.
- 3 speakers - with ~30 min max per talk + QA session.
- Diverse panel of speakers.
- 1 host - to keep everything in check.
- 2 hour time frame - have a break after the first two speakers.
- Networking with the speakers at the end of the meetup.
Any place is a good place. If it's sunny and warm you can have it outside.
- Find a classroom at your local University, a co-working space or even your local pub or cafe. Start small and grow.
Make sure that the people who attend are the actual target audience, people that can actually help you into building a community and share knowledge.
- Maximum of 30 places. Make sure you have the possibility of growing based on popularity.
- Students have priority. Because we want as many of them to actually learn something from the professionals.
Social media marketing
The more people know about it, the larger the community and the more knowledge is exchanged.
- Promote on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook (Instagram), Reddit etc. Create an easy to remember hashtag and create a Facebook event. Also don't forget to choose a cool title for your meetup.
- The social media marketing process will be a collaboration between the parts involved. Get you attendees to share the event if they want to do so.
- Use meetup.com as a platform to organise everything.
- Use speakerdeck.com to host the presentations.
- [Optional] Setup a weekly newsletter with useful web links.
- [Optional] Print and pass QR stickers around with a link to the event.
Anything that can improve the whole experience for everyone.
- Creation of a Slack group to share extra knowledge and ask the pros for help with certain areas. Pro-bono mentoring program through Slack.
I want to wrap this app with just a few mentions.
Choose the topics very carefully and try to keep them interesting. Ask the attendees if some of them want to host a talk at the next gathering. Plan your next meetup before the current one takes place. Make sure you choose an easy to remember title for your meetup. And lastly make sure everyone has fun.
If you have any other ideas that you've implemented at your meetups, do let me know @stefanbc, I would love to hear them.
Until next time, code long and prosper!
Image credit: Guillaume Kurkdjian