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CLS16 Notes "meetups" session


Getting a meetup off the ground:

All about connections, start with people you know. Ask your contacts to reach out to their contacts.

E.g., start with just drinks and chatting, add more formal programs later.

Have speakers listed on meetup.com,with their credentials, as a draw.

Work with other related groups.

Get a sponsor for food and drinks. Meet at a restaurant, so it’s known to be good food.

Build in networking time, in addition to speaker.

Working with sponsors is tricky. May want to be vendor-neutral. May depend on the size/maturity of the group. Recruiting by sponsors can be good or can be fraught. Sponsors can also benefit just by their involvement, getting good PR.

Developers react negatively to sales pitches.

Charging for meetups can depend on local culture. Be transparent with finances.

Meetup.com helps with visibility, getting new people. If you know your target audience/area, you might not need it. It can be good for pre, at, and right after the meetup. Eventbrite is better for ticket payment, attendee tracking.

Educational, or hackfest events have slightly different needs. Still need a mix of content and socializing. Or some social events, and some content events.

Low response rate for postevent surveys. Talking to people for feedback is valuable. Ask the group to help create the content roadmap.

Make explicit the feedback channels, can be a physical inbox, or online tool. Encourage culture of feedback. Reward people for giving feedback, e.g. random swag draw.

Succession planning, what happens when founder gets burned out?

Have explicit roles, so that it’s possible for someone else to take over. Have co-leaders, and teach delegation. Make bringing in new leaders is an explicit responsibility of existing leaders.

If no one else is willing to lead, you are an event organizer, not a community organizer.

Integrating newcomers and old timers:
Separate events don’t really work. People don’t properly self-identity. Encourage advanced members to mentor or buddy with new people, and become content contributors. Exclusive event or perk for advanced members. Separate intro session from main event.


Bootstrap new meetup groups by co-hosting with established groups you have a relationship with

Have speakers with credentials to entice new people

Companies can sponsor food and drinks, sometimes in exchange for a 2-5 minute pitch at the end

Have goal-oriented meetings where participants know what they will get out of attending

Meetup Pro was generally considered not worth the month

EventBrite offers some features that Meetup.com doesn’t

Get feedback from your attendees. Request feedback at the end of the event, not after. Build a culture of giving feedback. Be explicit about how and where to provide feedback. Reward people for giving food feedback.

Teach leadership & delegation skills to meetup organizers. Make recruiting new leaders an explicit responsibility of current leaders.

Set terms (not necessarily term limits) on leadership roles, to give expectations of commitments

Use advanced users as mentors to teach hard topics to new users. This gives them a reason to stay with the group, and might make them more willing to step up to a leadership role.

Invite the advanced users or biggest contributors to insider events or meetings with company leaders


Thanks so much for these. I’m sorry to miss CLS this year, but feel some connection with these notes.

Can someone elaborate on the feelings on “Meetup Pro”?



Mostly that it didn’t offer very much benefit for the cost. For my part I expected more in the way of metrics and analytics gleamed from all of the teams and events, but you really don’t get much more than a list of teams and people in them.


I meant to share this during the discussion, but forgot because I was taking notes and moderating. A few years ago, Austin area designer Vitorio Miliano applied design thinking to designing meetups.

Video of his presentation to Refresh Austin:
Designing Better Meetups

Thanks to for being the kind sponsor for this forum!