Since 2014, my buddy Faris Chebib and I (along with a few other hardcore friends) have run the SLC Python Meetup . We started the meetup because we were too lazy to drive to the other Python meetup – 20+ miles away – during rush hour. From 2014 to now, we’re close to 2500 members. Since then, we’ve also become Utah Python, a non-profit that encompasses promotes Python across the State of Utah, but that’s another story.
Last year, I also helped start and co-manage the Utah Data Engineering Meetup (UDEM). Needless to say, I like meetups. Perhaps they’re a labor of love?
Recently, a friend who runs another Utah-based meetup asked me for some advice on how to deal with ever-shaky calendars for speakers and events. This is a strong issue that will sink your meetup’s reputation if you’re not careful. Here’s my general advise to him. Hopefully it’s helpful to you too.
(Some parts edited to maintain confidentiality)
“Meetups are hard work. The best way to handle date changes is simply not to let them happen in the first place. Set a consistent time of the month, and try to stick to that as much as possible. With so many meetup options nowadays, we’ve found that building trust and consistency is half the battle. This will also make it easier to align speakers ahead of time.
With the SLC Python meetup, we’ve just kept it the first Wednesday of the month, no matter what – we’ve done this for over 5 years now; we make every effort to do the same thing with UDEM. Of course, this is harder than it sounds. Having a solid group to pitch in with the meetup helps a ton, as they can help pick up the slack if you’ve got obligations during that time.
The unsolicited advice part – The other half of the battle is providing an awesome, value-add experience that will keep people coming back for more. Most of the time, speaker quality is one thing, and goes without saying. You need quality talks in order to add value and stand out among the dozens and dozens of competing meetups.
Building the community of people who chat before/after is where the magic happens – these are your loyal fans who will keep coming back, as well as bring their friends. The meetup succeeds when you can keep it non-transactional, non-salesy. <Blank> and <blank> do a terrific job of this with their local <blank> meetup. In the end, you’re building a community for the long term. So, back to your original question, keep it consistent since community only arises from consistent behavior and trust.
Hope this helps. If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of meetups. It’s my labor of love.”