Some Meetup stories just plain write themselves, like Jenny Beene Skuban’s story. She’s the Organizer of A Momster takeover: a group for Awkward Moms in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Jenny is a native Cincinnatian. Before she found Meetup, she was comfortably surrounded by a support system that included a best friend who had children of the same age at the same time as her. They were inseparable, until a job relocation forced their family to move cross country, leaving Jenny feeling isolated and alone for the first time in her life.
They kept in touch, but Jenny continued to bemoan the situation until tough love took over. Her best friend told her to “suck it up and find some friends.” Her friend did some googling, found Momsters, and sent the link to Jenny.
Jenny was an early member and she loved it from the beginning. She watched the Meetup grow from 10 to nearly 120 members within two years. In July 2014, she stepped up to take over the Meetup from the woman who founded it, but she refuses to be called ‘Organizer.’
“I don’t do anything more than anyone else. The members make this Meetup. We do it for each other.” She quickly qualified that by saying, “honestly I don’t know how we do it,” with a self-deprecating laugh.
The Meetup group is a support system to help parents come out of their shells. She says, “It reminds you of who you really are, with people involved in the same kinds of struggles. We love each other for it. It’s not about hulking around on the internet. We want you there. We want to actually know you.”
I recently caught up with Shawn from the “I wanted to do that…Just not alone” Meetup in New York City, to find out how he keeps over 14,000 members happy after 4 years. His secret: “the key to keeping members active and engaged is consistency”.
To Shawn, being consistent means being attuned to your membership and understanding trends in your Meetup group.
Here are the three key attributes that make it work for his members:
Be welcoming: “People know when they come to our Meetups, they are going to find a friendly and engaging group of people. We work hard to create that atmosphere. Going to an unfamiliar place to meet new people can be intimidating. It’s easier when you trust that the organizer will be actively working to make sure people feel welcome.”
Keep your calendar busy: “There’s always something happening. People join Meetup because they want to do something!”
Leverage popular Meetups: “We have events that we’ve been running for years that you can expect to see twice a month, or more. Sometimes people find the thing they like, and they want to keep doing it, so we make sure it’s available for them. We actually have quite a few popular events, mostly because we run them consistently and make sure people know they can expect a good time”.
Making Meetup easier and more fun to use on mobile devices has been our top priority for 2015.
Today we’re excited to introduce Meetup’s Apple Watch app, which has the most important information about your Meetups where and when you need it most: at a glance, on your wrist.
The app allows you to RSVP, see who’s attending, browse your Meetup groups and receive notifications. Tilt your wrist to:
- Get notified of last minute Meetup time and location changes
- Find out when a spot opens up on the waiting list
- Use the map to find your way to your Meetup
Download Meetup for iOS on your iPhone here. If you have Apple Watch, the new Meetup app will automatically show up. You’ll find it featured by Apple on launch day.
Not an iOS user? Get the Android app with support for Android Wear here.
“I’m a big believer that technology is the future of economic growth and opportunity,” says NJ Tech Meetup Organizer Aaron Price. We at Meetup HQ agree with Aaron, and we’re not alone: last Friday, 50 tech Meetup organizers from around the country arrived in DC for the first ever Tech Meetup at the White House, hosted by U.S. CTO Megan Smith. The organizers, who traveled from as far as Alaska to get in on the action, came together to share their successes, and struggles, to connect, collaborate, and walk away stronger and more energized community leaders. In anticipation of the big day, we sat down with a handful of the organizers in attendance to capture their tech Meetup stories on camera.
We are invited to the White House today because the people in this room are forging the future in a non-obvious way. People here are opening doors for people who are opening doors for each other. (I stole that line from Seth Godin, and I love it.)
And speaking of doors, Megan, thank you for opening the doors to the White House to us today, and for seeing the potential in people. You, your team, and the President are making a difference by hosting us today.
We are here to talk about opportunity. To see and imagine how Tech Meetups will create more opportunities for more people.
There are 30,000 Tech Meetup organizers in this country and we’ve gathered 50 of the best here today. These Meetups help people get training, get jobs, get funding, launch businesses, and help companies take off. They inspire and change lives.
I became a Tech Meetup organizer a couple years after we started Meetup, the platform. (Meetup was used by people like Illinois State Senator Barack Obama in his run for the U.S. Senate. Whatever happened to that guy?) Meetups were booming, but there weren’t many Tech Meetups.
I was inspired to start the NY Tech Meetup having heard that Steve Wozniak (Steve Jobs’ co-founder) said that if there were no Homebrew Computer Club, there’d be no Apple. Homebrew was a community where you could demo technology. It gave them opportunity. Maybe Silicon Valley wouldn’t be what it is today without that community back then.
So I started the NY Tech Meetup, and at our first Meetup, only one person showed up. I asked her to be my co-organizer. Her name was Dawn Barber, and she helped it grow in its early days to where it is today, with over 40,000 members.
Dawn is here today. Dawn, you created opportunity for people.
Now there are Tech Meetups everywhere, and I’m so excited to see you all here, from Alabama to Alaska—poised to grow your local tech economies. I’m excited to see all of you.
On Friday, April 17th, 50 Tech Meetup organizers from across the United States will convene at the White House for a very special Meetup, hosted by U.S. CTO Megan Smith. These organizers will be welcomed by representatives from the National Economic Council and the Obama administration’s Tech Hire initiative, for this historic one-day gathering.
Tech Meetups are on the rise across America, creating tech infrastructure, spurring innovation, and changing communities for the better. “Tech Meetups are engines for growth, and Tech Meetup organizers are important local leaders,” says Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman. “The power of these Meetups is enormous, and we’re thrilled to see their contributions recognized at the highest levels of government.” The Tech Meetup at the White House marks the beginning of an exciting conversation about the important role Meetups play in the technology community, and we’re excited to bring Meetup organizers together with their peers for a day of conversation, collaboration, and community.
Join the conversation using #WHMeetup, and watch the livestream from 9am – 12pm.
“In 2010 we felt like there was way more talk about the gender gap in technology than there was action,” recalls Girl Develop It Co-Founder Vanessa Hurst. “We thought, ‘can I personally help one other woman feel comfortable learning technology?’ And the answer is yes.”
In 2010, Hurst co-founded the first Girl Develop It Meetup in New York City. “We decided it was time to provide a place where all questions are okay, and everyone can learn in a supportive environment.” Today that Meetup is over 7,500 members strong, and Girl Develop It Meetups have spread to 50+ cities around the country. Over 41,000 people belong to a local Girl Develop It Meetup, and the GDI community is growing faster than ever. “It’s an incredible thing to be celebrating five years of Girl Develop It this summer,” says GDI Executive Director Corinne Warnshuis. “What started as a single Meetup in NYC has become a nationwide movement. The strength and growth of our communities highlights how powerful and important it is to bring people together under a common purpose.”
This fall, Girl Develop It hosted their first summit in New York City, and we jumped at the chance to meet a handful of their extraordinary leaders and capture their stories on film.