Once in a while, an app comes into your life and changes it forever. More often than not it’s a game that becomes a habitual danger to your professional and personal relationships. Fortunately, my latest obsession is a much healthier pursuit.
While looking to expand my search for local business networking events, I stumbled upon a website to which I hadn’t previously given much consideration. Meetup is a beautifully simple platform that allows you to find likeminded people, no matter your interests.
My intentions are primarily Business & Career orientated, but there are plenty of other categories available. Everything from Parenting & Family, Science, Pets & Animals, to Activism, Sports, Languages and Hobbies is covered. You can add to your list of interests at any stage, so consider starting small.
Once you’ve selected your categories, you’re presented with a list of suggested Meetup groups to join. You may have to wait for approval from the Leadership team, or answer some qualifying questions before membership is granted. This is where the community aspect kicks in.
The intention is for group members to share their common interest within the groups through discussions, photos, message boards and polls. You can even create a specific personal profile for each group’s members to see. Far from keeping things fully virtual there are of course, the Meetup events.
When searching across the site, it’s possible to see events listed by groups of which you’re not a member. When organisers create events within your groups, you’ll receive notifications. Each event page is clearly designed to show the logistical information, as well as the host and details of the event. All the listings I seen paint a very clear picture of what to expect and what it’s possible to garner from attending.
You can also see the list of other members who are currently set to attend. This is a great opportunity to research the people you’re likely to meet and who in particular could be a good connection for your business. It gave me the chance to identify the individuals I should make an effort to speak to in person, which is always an advantage before networking events.
Having searched across other sites such as Eventbrite and FindNetWorkingEvents.com, the real advantage of Meetup is the event pages, aided primarily by the ability to post and exchange messages between users.
Ahead of an Informal Business Networking evening, attendees were already publicly commenting, signposting themselves with brief introductions. Thanks to the Meetup app, I was able to break away from the website and follow the action on my phone, en route into the City of London. The event itself was fantastic, with a great turnout. I had engaging conversations with many people from all kinds of companies, collecting a neat number of business cards to follow-up on.
Despite being there for the better part of five hours, there still wasn’t enough time to meet everyone. Like in most networking situations, you may intend to approach a particular person, but there’s never an optimal gap in overlapping conversations to do so. Thanks for the Meetup comments function, however, I was able to post a message letting members know they were free to contact me directly if we didn’t have the chance to talk the previous night.
Similarly, at another event I attended the following day, there was little chance to engage with other attendees of a workshop about internet marketing strategies. The schedule overran slightly and many folks left before the very end. During the presentation itself, from my place in the audience I offered-up some supporting facts about the power of video content. For instance, did you know that 64% of people are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video?
The next morning, I posted to the event page, to thank the host and that I hoped my contributions to proceedings were helpful. Thankfully, I received positive replies from fellow attendees, including some fruitful connections. Posting my comment led to one gentleman connecting with me via LinkedIn, which resulted in a phone conversation that same day, during which we covered the possibilities of how our Ice Cream Model of Video Marketing can apply to all areas of his marketing activities.
Via the Meetup app Message function, I had a great exchange with another potential lead for future collaboration on video content for corporate empowerment retreats. I also hope to arrange a call with a third attendee, all thanks to my public comment.
Were it not for this retrospective feature that Meetup offers, the potential of each networking event would be limited to just those connections made in the room at that time. Having experienced this frustration before, the wider opportunities now afforded to me are a tremendous relief. It’s natural to feel pressure when networking with new people, yet all aspects of Meetup are designed to make everything easier.
The scope isn’t just limited to London or business, but if you’re looking for more likeminded people to help your enterprise or career grow, I can highly recommended signing-up for and getting fully immersed in the communities hosted by Meetup.