Running Meetups and Events

The Weekly Iteration

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Meetups are a great way to involve yourself in your local programming communities, as well as find other people with similar interests. Join Melissa Xie and Gabe Berke-Williams to learn how to organize and run your own meetups.

Melissa runs Boston Ruby Women (which she also created), Railsbridge Boston, Boston.rb Project Nights, and helps out with Write Speak Code.

Why start a meetup?

Melissa started Boston Ruby Women because she noticed a gap in the local meetups. When no other meetup existed, she ran an introductory meetup to find out what to talk about. There was already some interest, and they needed someone to bring them together. Finding an existing group of people and formalizing them as a meetup is an easy way to create meetups. BRW also meets once a month, which is easier to organize than a weekly meetup.

Promoting a meetup

Meetup.com is well-known, but it's an effective tool nevertheless. Running a Twitter account (like @BostonRubyWomen) is also a good idea. Usually Meetup plus Twitter is enough to promote a meetup, and the meetup host company will often notify their audience.

Finding sponsors (if you need them)

Meetups like Boston Ruby Women don't need a monetary sponsor. A company that provides meeting space and food is enough: the MVP of a meetup. In contrast, Railsbridge Boston has a lot of extra costs (like catered food) and is much larger (100+ people) than most people. For your first meetup, it's good to find a free venue (like Microsoft NERD in Boston) because event space can be very expensive. It's also good to let sponsoring companies know what kind of benefits companies get in return for their money (like ad space).

Attendance

Every meetup needs people to show up. Usually about 60% of people who RSVP will actually show up, which is important for ordering pizza. To counteract this, you can sell more tickets than there are seats, and end up with approximately as many people as actually expected. Wait lists are also very effective: you can sell fewer tickets than necessary, ask people to cancel if they're not going (since there are people on the wait list), and get more control over exactly how many people show up. It's also important to accommodate food restrictions like veganism or lactose intolerance.

Delegating responsibility

When a meetup gets popular, it starts to take up a lot of the organizer's time. At this point, it's important to delegate responsibility. A GitHub repository with Markdown documents is a great way to document internal processes like who to call for event space. In the documents, list everything that needs to happen to make a meetup happen, then talk to people who show up to lots of meetups and ask them to help you organize.

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