- Sam Noland
Organizing or sponsoring a meetup can add great value to your company – from increasing sales leads, to hiring your next employee, to becoming a thought leader in your space. Over the past 3 years Heavybit has hosted over 200 member meetups at our Clubhouse in San Francisco. Here are some of the best practices on getting started.
Identifying Objectives & Audience
The first step in planning any event is to identify your objectives. Are you looking to fill a role, increase sales leads, and/or build a community around your product? Once you’ve decided on your objectives, you’ll be able to easily identify the audience you need in the room.
While it may seem like getting as many people as possible to attend your event is ideal, attendee quality is far more important than quantity. Make sure to target the audience that will allow you to achieve your objectives.
For the best attendance, host your meetup on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday evening. People are still recovering from the weekend on Monday, and they’ll want to get their weekends started after work on Friday.
The tech industry doesn’t generally run on a 9am-5pm schedule, so don’t expect your attendees to get to your event by 5pm. Give your attendees enough time to wrap-up their work day and travel to your venue.
Keep in mind your attendees have been working all day and probably don’t have the energy to listen to multiple lengthy talks. Keep your talks and Q&A session all within an hour.
Once the talks are finished, don’t feel you need to entertain and provide refreshments to your guests for the remainder of the evening. Suggest a few local bars for the group to continue the conversation. Here’s a sample event schedule:
- 6:00pm – 6:30pm: Check-in & dinner
- 6:30pm – 7:00pm: Presentation of CEO of XXX & Q&A
- 7:00pm – 7:30pm: Lightning talks
- 7:30pm – 8:00pm: Networking
- 8:15pm: Doors close
Finding A Venue
If you don’t have an event space, Prelude, Peerspace and Splacer are great resources to find creative and inspiring venues. You could also look to partner with a relevant company that has an event space in their office. When reaching out to use these companies, let them know how the partnership will benefit them (i.e. increase candidate leads for Node.js developers). Hosting an event can be a big distraction, so the company will want to make sure the value added by the event is worth the distraction.
You know why you’re hosting the meetup, have a schedule for the event, and have secured a venue. Now what? Check back next week for Pt. 2: Promotion & Audience Targeting.