Virtually any corporate meeting can impart new information or help develop new business contacts. But meetups are special because they are more about exchanging ideas than coming to the table with a strict business agenda. And sometimes, that’s where the magic happens.
In a nutshell, a meetup is an event where like-minded people meet and chat. It’s casual, social and in business, it’s a great way to get yourself out there as a thought leader in your industry.
To establish what you want to avoid, picture this. You’ve got your name tag, you’ve got your coffee. But you don’t know what to do with yourself before the action starts, so you’re really just hoping to get an “urgent” text so you can leave the room. Or maybe worse, what was positioned as a mix and mingle has become a vendor-centric event that feels like a pushy sales pitch.
So how can you organize a corporate meetup so it actually comes off as both fun and worthwhile? Here are five ideas to inspire you.
#1 Go social from the start. First, create an account and register your event on meetup.com. You’ll see what other meetups are happening in your area – or your area of interest. Before the event, you should also set up a Twitter account and hashtag so you can post about your meetup in advance, during and after.
#2 Get people involved. Start off your meetup by asking everyone to participate in some way. Instead of the standard elevator speech, offer a twist – maybe ask each guest to share one thing about themselves that most people don’t know. If your group is too big and time doesn’t allow, pass a hat for people to drop in a question, and select a few at random for the group to discuss. And don’t forget to take a group photo at some point during the meetup. It gets everyone together, and the picture can be leveraged on social media for promoting future events.
#3 Add value. When you go beyond what’s expected, people tend to sit up and pay attention. Bring in an exciting speaker from outside your company or industry. Serve beer and wine instead of coffee (after hours, of course). Have a cool parting gift. Add value, and they’ll remember you.
#4 Use people as a warm up. Even in our over-digitalized age, nothing tops the touch factor of real, live human beings. Even if you have done a great job promoting your meetup, people can feel disoriented when they arrive. Have a team of friendly, knowlegable people on hand to greet attendees and help get them set up and comfortable.
#5 Be a great host. As mentioned earlier, think about having your meetup after hours, so you can get away with serving yummy food, wine and beer. And ambiance counts for a lot. Get the room temp right (cool enough so your guests don’t fall asleep), dim the lights a bit (but not so dim that you fall asleep…hmmm, is there a theme here?). And remember the details! Make the space inviting with comfortable seating and fresh flowers or live plants. Make sure the bathroom(s) are clean and stocked. Post your WiFi password in a visible area so people don’t have to ask.