Becoming Talent+! Why & How of Organizing Meetups

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5 min read

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Thanks to Murughan Palaniachari from DevOps & Cloud meetup for contributing to the community by organizing meetups (touching 5k members in just a couple of years now)!

Some techies are Talent+. They are more than just developers — they have something more than raw talent. For example, they create new solutions; contribute to open source; write blogs, vlogs, screen casts; and some others contribute by building communities.

In this blog post, I am going to focus on one such way to become a Talent+ person — building communities by organizing meetups.

Why Organize Meetups?

The primary reason for organizing a meetup is to build and be part of a community.

If that’s not an attractive answer to you, here are other reasons to organise meetups:

  1. Get good connects with the community of experts (learn from them)
  2. Get connected to HR departments and decision makers (to get good jobs or forming the basis for starting your own startup)
  3. Get connected to a group of like-minded geeks
  4. Deeper insights to what’s going on in your domain
  5. Get well-known in the community

Example: Let’s say you organize a Java meetup community. Why? May be you love Java and it would feel great to be part of an existing community or build a community of like-minded Java enthusiasts. That’s a good enough reason for organizing a meetup. There are also other benefits of organizing such a meetup group.

By organizing regular meetups, you’ll know local experts in Java and connect with them personally and build long term relationships. You’ll get connected to the development managers, directors, and event CTOs when you look out for meetup space and meet them in person during the meetup days (which is otherwise not possible because they are — by nature of their work and positions — busy). You’ll feel great to be part of a geeky Java community and get a deeper understanding of what companies and developers feel about recent releases, the commercialisation of the Java runtime, what are the latest frameworks and technologies, how Java is relevant in the Cloud Native world, etc. This kind of knowledge and insights cannot be acquired just by reading stuff online or if you work only from your cubicle and your computer! Because of the nature of self-less contribution to the community, you’ll get well-known in the local community. Aren’t these good enough rewards for organizing meetups?

Okay, so far we have discussed why you should organise meetups. Now let us discuss how to organise them.

How to Organize Meetups?

Create a meetup group. By far the most popular platform work for organising meetups is meetup.com. You need to create a meetup group in this platform. Yes, there is a half-yearly fee for a few thousand rupees. Once you create a meetup group, you can start sharing about the meetup in your offline and online networks to get more people to be part of it.

Just go ahead and announce your first meetup. Don’t think too much on how to make your meetups happen. Just go ahead and announce your first meetup 3 to 4 months from now. The meetup need not have any details about the speakers with no location announced yet and no agenda — just that its the first meetup. Put out for call for speakers and ask for sponsors who can host your meetups. Invite participants to the meetup. You may be surprised you’ll start getting help and response!

Organizing a meetup is all about connecting three dots: speakers, hosts & participants.

Find speakers. Ask for help from your friends and colleagues to suggest speakers. And look out for topics that your target audience is interested in. Tap your existing network even if it happens to be small. All you need is just two or three speakers — so it shouldn’t be difficult to find. Ask help from other meetup organizers (they are not competition — remember they are also organizing meetups for growing a community and are very helpful). Co-organize the meetups if needed.

Find hosts. You can reach out to potential hosts by posting your need in the meetup group. You can also check with the companies you have worked for in the past, your friends’ companies, … Most companies are willing to host meetups for contributing to the community, spread awareness about their products and services or even to attract talent. You can mention these benefits to your contact HR team to get buy-in to host the meetups in their venue.

Find participants. You may have announced a meetup with super speakers and excellent & accessible office space, and have a great lineup of exciting topics. But don’t assume that people will just turn-up! Spread the word about the meetup in social media (esp. LinkedIn where most professionals hang-out) and in your network. Create a cadence — announce speakers one by one (instead of all at one go), announce hosts / sponsors and thank them, invite participants to RSVP, send reminder mails etc.

On the meetup day. Be there in time for the meetup and coordinate with the host to make sure the meetup goes smoothly — that it is a pleasant experience for the participants. You can contribute effectively by starting the meetup in time, welcoming the next speakers, announcing breaks, asking people to return back to the sessions, moderate discussions, and being active in the event by mixing with the participants, hosts and the speakers. Also send a follow-up mail if possible by sharing the slides and material shared by the speakers to the participants after the meetup.

Have fun! Tech meetups needn’t be all serious — mix reasonable aspects of fun like gamification, informal lunches and tea, quiz competition etc.

When you give selflessly, the world gives you back manifold!

Organizing meetups is an effort intensive activity — don’t underestimate the effort that it takes to organize meetups month after month for sustained periods of time like 3–5 years.

Make a team — find like-minded organizers who may be interested in organizing.

I am sure you’ll be amazed by the benefits that organizing meetups can bring to you. For sure, you’ll be happier — there is nothing more satisfying than seeing the community grow and flourish and see yourself grow with the community! Don’t think too much — just go for it!

If you are interested in organizing meetups and contributing to the community, feel free to reach out to us. I am Ganesh from CodeOps & KonfHub () and will be more than happy to help you in anyway possible to me :-)