Reblogged with permission from Ray Hightower, Organizer of the Chicago Ruby Meetup. The article was originally published on the rayhightower.com blog.
The current team of ChicagoRuby organizers assumed leadership in August 2007. Back then, typical monthly attendance was about five people and the group’s Meetup database contained 78 members. The previous organizer was swamped with work at his day job, so he handed the baton to a new crew.
Today, the new crew has grown ChicagoRuby to over 3,500 members. The group hosts six meetups every month, and the downtown meetings consistently max out the 100-person RSVP limit. Bonus: ChicagoRuby hosts two conferences, WindyCityRails in Chicago and RubyCaribe on the Caribbean island of Barbados.
How does ChicagoRuby do it? Through consistency, teamwork, iteration, and learning from mistakes.
Be Consistent With Meetings
Consistency is very difficult in the beginning, especially on that night when only three people show up for the meeting. I have hosted a 3-person ChicagoRuby meeting before. Consistency is hard, and it is also the most important factor in user group success.
People trust consistency. Consistent meetings grow groups.
Members of ChicagoRuby know that we meet on the first Tuesday of every month downtown, the third Saturday of every month in Elmhurst, and one evening per month for the hack night. Members can plan their schedules months in advance because the ChicagoRuby calendar is consistent. Consistency builds trust.
ChicagoRuby cancelled one meeting in January 2011 due to a killer snow storm in Chicago. We were forced to cancel because the property manager shut the entire building down. We’re a little bit stubborn about consistency. And that’s how we build trust.
Yes, there will be times when the organizer is too exhausted to run an upcoming meeting. That’s why it’s important to share the work by building a team.
Build the Team
ChicagoRuby believes in sharing the work amongst multiple organizers. The group is stronger with several brains at the helm. Today we have twelve organizers. Working as a team enables us to benefit from each other’s strengths. Some organizers have strong design skills, others are strong developers. And some are good at asking members for help.
Continue Reading →