One of my new year’s resolutions for 2016 was to attend more and more meetups from different markets and interests. I know you are probably tired of hearing about New Year’s resolutions by now, but I think this one is very important. Beside, I have a whole other article about New Year’s resolutions! Yippee! Hooray (they all chanted)
I am currently one of the cohosts and cofounders of the very popular Product Hunt Ottawa meetup. We have a monthly meetup with an average of 3 speakers per night. These speakers and founders, employees and advisors to some of Ottawa coolest startups. In less than a year, we have grown our attendee base to almost 700 members. It’s a long process, but it’s totally worth it, here’s why.
What’s the point?
I know, you can find almost anything online. If you need to learn something about a particular subject, it’s just a quick Google search away. Which is why you are probably asking yourself why you would go to meet ups, if your not interested.
Meeting and speaking with someone in person has a far stronger impact on your education than reading an article about it. There is something about face to face communication that makes things fall into place.
When you chat with someone in person at a meetup, there are a number of factors that make it far more effective. The human brain retains information by association, a big ol’ relational database that stores all this information beside the closest thing it can latch on to. Which makes the environment around the speaker just as important as the actual message.
I have met some of my closest friends at some of these events. If you are attending a meetup on a subject you find interesting, everyone else in that room has a similar opinion. That’s what bring everyone together. You could talk to literally anyone in the room and build a meaningful relationship. Whether it’s a business relationship or friendship, it’s completely worth the few hours you are spending at the event. The connection is so much stronger when people have a common goal, or a common interest.
I ‘m not saying you’ll be friends with everyone, that’s stupid, but you can find some people definitely worth knowing.
Now and again, you’ll meet a superstar, someone who is truly badass, with the backbone of dragon. Sometimes you may even learn a few things, without the header asking you for 5$ donations. At the same time, you can have a few drinks and enjoy yourself. Who knows, you may even meet your next cofounder.
This is why we decided to create Product Hunt Ottawa. We are building a micro community that has the eventual potential of becoming a very large community. These grassroots communities are the first steps towards building really strong relationships in your area. This small community will follow all these people along the way while they start their own companies, helping as much as they can.
Big fish in a small pond
Niche meet ups tend to have the small pond effect. Which can be great because you can create more meaningful connections with those around you. When you attend a massive meetup with 1000+ people, it can be a lot of fun, but you have the option of talking with everyone there. The room gets crowded and it’s more about the speakers than the actual attendees. Start by going to smaller meetups and talking to as many people as you can.
Here’s a crazy idea, try going to meetups on random subjects you don’t quite understand. That way you can meet people in different subjects and not just your own community. It’s really important to try and walk outside that comfort zone a few times to really get a feel for other communities.
Next month, I plan on going to a painter’s meetup. Do I know how to paint? No. Do I know anyone who does? Not really. Do I think it’s cool idea? Yes sir.
walk outside your comfort zone
If you are anything like me, you most likely don’t enjoy networking that much. I love meeting new people, but I’m not a fan of small talk. Ain’t nobody got time for that! The beauty about a meetup is that everyone there has a common interest, a subject you can talk about. This makes thing far less awkward, and way more enjoyable.
Hosting your own
Once you have attended a few meetups and you understand exactly how it works, consider starting your own. Start by selecting a niche subject, it might be a product, a pass time or even a career. I cofounded Product Hunt Ottawa, which is loosely based on the concept of producthunt.com. A good friend of mine, Jason started Fuckup Nights Ottawa, which is based on the Fuckup Nights meetups around the world. Anything you find interesting can potentially become a subject for a meetup.
Check them out, and let me know what you think.