How to Use Meetup to Promote Your Business
Whether you’re already in the networking game or looking to start harnessing the power of networking for your business, one question you might have is “how can I use meetup.com to grow my business”.
Well here’s an answer…start your own group!
Finding good networking groups on meetup to RSVP to and attend should absolutely be a part of your networking strategy, but today’s not going to be a “how to network” post…we ARE going to have lots of great ones coming your way soon. Instead, today we’re going to actually explain why and how you can leverage the power of meetup as an organizer to kick your networking results into another gear.
And be sure to read all the way to the end because as a bonus I’m going to give you our Top Three Tips on how to get your new meetup group off to a great start.
Why Start Your Own Meetup
First thing’s first…why start your own meetup? Melissa and I started a meetup group back in October of 2017, and as of this recording I think we have just over 1000 members. It’s taken some work, but it’s really opened opportunities and brought us business that we would not have had otherwise.
So here are the top 5 reasons to start your own.
First – You get to define exactly what you’re looking for in a group. You want to meet more people in the real estate investing space? Start that meetup. You want to meet people interested in passive income? Start that meetup. It’s completely up to you, it’s your meetup!
Second – You’ll meet more people. As the group’s organizer, you will naturally have conversations with more people in the group…meeting them as you check them into the event, answering questions about where or when you might be meeting next. All of these interactions let you get to know more people than you probably would if you were just attending an event.
Third – You’re perceived to have authority! Not that you’re looking for any type of status, but when you are the organizer of a group or event you are usually perceived to carry importance in that space and may even be seen as a connector that others naturally want to meet.
Fourth – You begin to build a reputation of helping others through giving them the opportunity to connect with people they are looking to meet.
Fifth – You will naturally build and improve your networking and organizational skills in the process!
There is one very important part of this "start your own meetup" equation. The purpose of starting a meetup group is NOT to create a forum that you can constantly pitch your stuff. People that do that very quickly don’t have anyone that attends their events anymore. Don't do it. Focus instead on providing value.
How to Start Your Own Meetup
So now that we know the WHY, let’s talk about HOW to start your own meetup to promote your business.
Decide what type of group would bring together the best types of connections for your business. Now don’t confuse strategy with selfish intentions. We’ll get to the value you’re going to be providing to your attendees shortly, but this step is all about your marketing strategy. What people do you want to be able to bring together, provide value to, and provide a great networking experience to? You can be as general or specific as you want to be.
Attend some meetups. It’s so important that you go out and see what’s out there. Whether you attend meetups with a similar focus as what you’re planning or not, going to events let’s you see how others run their events. Note what you like and what you don’t like, and use all that context for our next step.
Decide on your meetup format. In other words, what type of experience will your attendees receive. It could be a general networking time. It could be a happy hour after work. Are you going to have icebreaker activities to help the networking experience? You may decide your events will always offer some type of value in the form of a featured speaker along with the networking time built into the agenda. That’s exactly the format we’ve had over the last couple of years, and does take a little extra work to line up speakers, but there are ALWAYS great speakers out there willing to speak for free in order to get brand awareness or simply spread their message. This can help you bring even more value to your attendees.
So before we get to Step Number Four, take a second and leave us a comment below with a format that you’ve seen at a meetup or other networking event that you really enjoyed? We’d love to know!
Find a venue. Do your best to avoid any costs here. Find a place that suits your format and will let you meet there for an hour or two. If you have it at a coffee shop or restaurant, be sure to encourage your attendees to support the venue so that the venue allows you to come back. In the beginning when your group might be a little smaller, there are LOTS of options. You might even leverage your existing network to ask if anyone knows of some good space. And unless you’re planning a happy hour, try to find space that won’t be too terribly loud so that your attendees are able to carry on conversations without having to yell or struggle to hear each other.
Now that you know who you want attending, the format you’re going to offer your attendees, and the time and place you want to have your first meetup, it’s time to actually create your group in meetup. There is a small monthly fee to be an organizer. You’ll actually have the ability to create up to 3 groups, but you can simply start with one. Go to meetup.com and find the link to Start a New Group. Meetup will then take you through all the steps needed to set up your group and your first meetup. Be sure to fill it out as completely as possible so that, once created, meetup can announce your group to the thousands of people in your area who have interests aligned with your group.
Now remember, there’s no magic pill here. Just creating a group doesn’t mean you’ll have wildly successful turnouts, but if you focus on getting the word out about your group through meetup, social media, and word of mouth, AND you consistently provide a valuable experience to your attendees…your group will grow…and so will your connections for your business!
BONUS - Top 3 Tips to Start Out Right
And now here’s your Bonus…our Top Three Tips on how to get your new meetup group off to a great start.
In the beginning, monitor your growing list of those who join your meetup group. Using the messaging function within meetup, when a new person joins simply send them a quick note to welcome them and ask if there’s anything specific they’d like to get out of the group. It’s a great way to let people know right off the bat that this group cares about its members and wants to add value. That new member now already feels welcome and is probably now more likely to RSVP and attend one of your events.
At each event, promote the group. In other words, at a point in time where you have everyone’s attention (unless this is a crowded bar happy hour) be sure to reinforce the mission or purpose of the meetup group. Also ask for their help to grow the group since larger events means more people to network with, so ask them to leave a testimonial on meetup if they found the event valuable, and ask them to be sure to bring someone with them to the next event.
For a regularly recurring meetup, only publish 1 at a time so that you have a scarcity factor. Consistency is good, so having an event say… every third Thursday is a great plan, but if you post the next 6 events on meetup, potential attendees for next week’s event might think “well if I don’t go to this one I see there’s another one next month” and not RSVP. You don’t want that. As soon as one event is over, immediately publish the next one.
Now if you’re also wanting to know how to get more out of your networking follow up, be sure to check out Melissa’s 5-Step Follow Up Blueprint and download our Blueprint below and put it into action!