Meetup Groups – Created Equal?

Meetup_Logo_2015

Anyone that knows me knows I love networking. Half the fun of being an entrepreneur in Calgary is putting yourself out there and meeting new people. What a better way is there of getting to educate others about your business and getting to know what others do?

I am surprised how few people still don’t know about Meetup.com and how it can be used to supplement your networking strategy.

According to Wikipedia:

Meetup is an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world. Meetup allows members to find and join groups unified by a common interest, such as politics, books, games, movies, health, pets, careers or hobbies.

Following the September 11 attacks in 2001, the site’s co-founder Scott Heiferman publicly stated that the manner in which people in New York City came together in the aftermath of that traumatic event inspired him to use the Internet to make it easier for people to connect with strangers in their community.

Launching on June 12, 2002, it quickly became an organizing tool for a variety of common interests including fan groups, outdoor enthusiasts, community activists, support groups, and more.

What surprised me was the longevity of the platform. A Social Media platform from 2002? That predates Facebook, Twitter and many more.

I was asked to be a Co-Organizer of one of Calgary’s most popular business related Meetups a while back. The “Calgary Business Professionals” aka “CBP”. My fellow Co-Organizer is Sean Phillips and the lead Organizer and group owner is Lisa Marie Genovese.

Our group was formed in November 27, 2002 so has been in existence almost as long as Meetup itself. The group has undergone many changes through the years and assorted management structures, but it has grown in leaps and bounds since Lisa took over. We average around 50 new members per month and we have some of the more stringent membership requirements to join. We currently have over 2,000 members.

What I love about our group is that we grow organically. We keep promotional content to a minimum and focus on connecting. Many business groups you’ll find on Meetup are really just infomercials in disguise. Organizers have the best intentions, but when you arrive at the event you realize you’re effectively being pitched to for a service or product. Other groups have speakers, but the speaker is usually trying to promote their product or service.

When we approve speakers for our popular breakfast event, it’s all about leaving the sales pitch at the door. We insist that our speakers talk about pain points that small businesses face and solutions to those problems. We always have a very engaged crowd and lots of two-way communication at these events.

At our famous “Beer and Wings” event held the last Wednesday of each month, we liken the event to a “house party“. We expect people to arrive at our event with the intention of learning about others and maybe making a new friend or two. Keep the business cards in your pocket unless asked for one! We average between 90-100 attendees a month at Beer and Wings. Always a great time.

The real strength of our membership are the members themselves. We insist that our members use their first and last names on both their overall Meetup profile and their secondary group profile. No nicknames. No company names. Just the name you were born with (or married into). Consistent with this, we insist that members use a photo “headshot”. No logos, cartoons or photos of your cat.

Please make sure to attend as many other Meetups around town to see what works best for you. Then attend one or both of our monthly events and you’ll see what makes CBP special

We hope to see you at breakfast at Douglasglen Ricky’s (second Wednesday of each month) or Beer and Wings at Donegal (last Wednesday of each month except December).