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.