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  • running a London meet-up

Do you run a successful meet-up group that you’re keen to grow into a larger event? Perhaps you started yours in the backroom of a pub or in a café and now feel like you’ve outgrown it.

Creating a positive community through a meet-up is an incredibly rewarding experience. It’s an ideal way to connect with like-minded people, share common experiences, generate new ideas as well as putting back into the community itself. But how do you keep control and preserve the elements that make it a success when growing your meet-up?

Our guide takes you through the process with key considerations and tips to help you up-scale your meet-up successfully.
 

Growing Your Meet-up

Don’t be overwhelmed by the thought of up-scaling your meet-up. If you’re considering it, it’s a great sign as it means you already have a core group who attend regularly and enough interest to take the next steps.

A Planning Team

You may be concerned that the essence of your meet-up will be lost as it increases in scale. Remember – you and your members already know what works best for the group!

The best way to begin the up-scaling process is to create a planning team. By doing this you know each decision will be discussed and the responsibility shared.

Together you can plan the next five or six events in advance to ensure that you’re always ahead of yourself. This will give you space and time to really nail each event and make it as professional as possible.

Use your new planning team to promote your meet-up in style. Schedule your upcoming meet-ups with the aim of boosting your membership. You could incentivise people to refer friends and acquaintances.

Consider your audience

As you’re planning to make big changes to your meet-up, it’s really worth assessing exactly who your audience is and what they want from the event.

You should reconsider the purpose of your meet-up and what the most valuable takeaways are for your audience.

Is your meet-up focussed on a particular skillset or area of interest? Is it location specific? For singles? The main aim of attending the meet-up for these people is likely to be socialising and forging friendships. Growing your meet-up for them is a bonus, as long as it includes more of the same relevant attendees and doesn’t become repetitive.

As you move towards up-scaling, consider what sort of new member you wish to attract. If it’s a business-orientated meet-up, do you wish to attract serious business focussed members or interested hobbyists? By going through this process, you may realise that actually your current audience is just too niche to upscale. Think how you can broaden the range of people who you attract, without damaging your appeal.

Spice up the Format

Don’t be afraid to shake up the format! If you usually focus on a discussion or a presentation each week, then try holding a panel discussion or workshops instead.

You will probably already have regular speakers who contribute on a more consistent basis, but why not think big? Throw open the field and ask industry or local influencers to speak instead. This will give your event a boost of beneficial PR and refresh things a little.

Be careful though that these new speakers steer away from a commercial angle. People will switch off if they feel they’re being sold to. Remember to utilise your original circle of speakers though as this is the attendee’s bread and butter and part of your meet-up appeal.

Also, don’t be concerned about over-booking speakers, as contributors may fall through at the last minute. The more the better too. If you have additional speakers you can create more of a workshop style meet-up session.

Do some research into similar events and gatherings in the local area; perhaps there’s a way that yours can add value to others and vice versa. By using other events to cross-fertilise your own, you can grow your meet-up and enrich it at the same time.

Use a tool such as meetup.com to manage the RSVP’s to your new and improved meet-up group and you can connect with other similar groups on forums such as Reddit. Alternatively, search out niche forums for your meet-up, such as Product Tank or CitySocializer to seek out new contacts and groups.

To give your meet-up event even more professionalism, create its own landing page on your website to include as many details as possible. Include short biographies of the speakers and links to their Twitter feeds.

meet-up with 3D presentation

Image – 50s in 3D via National Archives UK on Flickr.

Costs

As you upscale your meet-up, it will inevitably become more costly to run. You may consider charging a discretionary attendance fee, especially if you already have a robust following. For new attendees paying an entry fee will encourage them to avoid dropping out at the last minute, so boosting attendance numbers as well.

Sponsorship

If you’re reluctant to charge too much for entry and are keen to upscale on a larger scale, then considering sponsorship for your meet-up is a cost effective way of growing it.

This could happen organically, simply by reaching out to your solid base of attendees. Perhaps you have some executives or industry experts who already attend and would be willing to help grow the community.

Sites such as Sponsormyevent.com and Eventbrite can help take you through the process from proposal to finding sponsors and successfully pitching to them.
 

Challenges to Overcome

So you’ve decided when your next event will be, planned it with panache and have a fantastic set of speakers lined up. You’ve nurtured your existing format and allowed it to grow into something even better. However, it doesn’t seem to be attracting more attendees than normal. Be patient. Up-scaling a meet-up can be a slow process, at least to start with.

Promoting a Meet-Up

Ensuring your meet-up promotion is absolutely spot on will do wonders for upscaling it.

Make sure you’re using all the relevant online channels you can, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Meetup and forums such as Reddit. You will already have dedicated social media accounts for the group, but triple check they’re working as well as they possibly can.

Does the branding need a bit of a tweak? Are you engaging with your potential audiences on social media? You could make the most of your current audiences by tapping into their friends and followers. Are there influencers within these groups that you can connect with? Use this tactic to great effect on Twitter, by building lists and watch your meet-up following grow.

If you don’t already, ensure you have a process in place for promoting the meet-up. Contact all your current contacts, as well as contacts from related meet-ups and ask them to share with their contacts. Consider using paid social media advertising channels, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, to boost traffic to your event page.

Once you hold the first of your new and improved meet-up, make sure you film snippets and share to your social media accounts and your website. If people are considering attending, they will want to see a taster of the experience for themselves.

Utilise Eventbrite too, if you don’t already. This events site is great for promoting and growing events.

promoting a meet-up

Image via SDASM on Flickr. No known copyright.

Choosing a Venue for your Meet-up

Location

With the aim of growing your meet-up at the forefront of your planning, you will inevitably think ahead to securing a larger venue.

You will need somewhere that will be able to accommodate the increased numbers, but not a space so large that the meet-up feels drowned by it. This could be detrimental to the atmosphere.

Choose somewhere that is part of a co-working space in the community, such as a local museum, college or university. Expect two-thirds of the confirmed attendees to turn up and base your choice on this sort of number. Once you’ve launched your up-scaled event successfully in this new space, make sure you consistently stick to your venue choice, so you don’t lose attendees.

It’s a given that the location for the meet-up event must have strong Wi-Fi, practical refreshment facilities and be serviced by excellent transport links. A central location is a standout bonus! You also want to ensure that the cost of hire doesn’t mean you have to charge more than is reasonable.

Meet-up Groups

Your meet-up has the potential to be even greater than it already is and we hope these tips will help your meet-up to become bigger and better.

Above all, make sure the details of each event are consistent from week to week, so you don’t lose valuable attendees along the way. On the day itself, check Meetup.com or Eventbrite, to see who has RSVP’d and print out name badges to hand out. This will add a veneer of professionalism to your meet-up. Hand out a feedback form at the end of your meet-up, so you can monitor reactions to the changes you’ve made and keep on improving it.

Choose 20 Bedford Way as your London Meet-up Venue

As part of UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way has a number of amazing event spaces to hire with state of the art equipment perfect for various types of London meet-up. We have suitable spaces for all sizes of meet-ups from 9 – 930 people including a number of smaller theatres, studio and hall spaces. If you’re upscaling your meet-up event on a grand scale, our flagship 933 seater Logan Hall venue could be for you.

A purpose built venue within a Grade II listed brutalist building, in the heart of Bloomsbury, 20 Bedford Way boasts a central location ideally suited to a London Meet-up event. To check out our venue or to find out our very affordable rates then call us on 020 7612 6143, fill out an enquiry form or email us at venuehire@ioe.ac.uk.

 

Header Image via Flickr – San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive – Convair 880. No known Copyright Restrictions.

 

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