it mostly depends on what a successful meetup is. Large number of members? lots of joins?. For me, it is everyone being happy: members and organizing team. There is BALANCE: both parts are equally happy. You achieve that by doing interesting, creative events that are also original. They have to be interesting for members and not done everywhere else by other groups. The second thing is that you are happy too: you get what you want from running those events: friends, fun, contacts, money, whatever you are looking for and will keep you doing it.
Probably the top thing for me has been being ready to change who we are to adapt to the ever-changing audience. As each member joins, no matter how large the group, the whole energy of the meetup changes. And over time, we change and adapt our ways to involve the new ideas, visions, energies of the people that join. This will begin with offering more diverse meetups, changing the way our meetups are presented, organised and managed, to adding more creative ways for members to interact. I've found letting go of any preconceived ideas of where you want your meetup will go, will allow it to organically grow into something that will serve everyone, both yourself and most importantly the group you are holding. I really believe anything can grow into something huge if it accepts and honours all people who join :)
Photos have been the top thing for our group. And enabling the public to see the photos. People like the idea of the group, but they are often apprehensive because they don't know what sort of people are in the group. We weren't big on photos to start with, and few joined now and then, but once they could see what we did, and the people involved, the group grew. Photos give people an impression, and our group shows fun with families which is what we want to promote. Just everyday people getting together and networking, building friendships and having fun. It also helps us with funding because funders see the group makes a difference to the families we cater for.
I'm not sure there is any one top thing. But some of the things I believe that have contributed to our success is consistently throwing great events. A lot of other Meetup groups I've been a part of, especially when a new organizer takes over, is they have a lot of energy to begin with and throw many events to start, but then fade, and stop throwing events. Consistency is key. To build a community, you need to keep the ball rolling, and give people in the group the opportunity to continue to come out, meet new friends, and reacquaint with old. Of course, you need to be able to also execute on the events thrown. That means, crossing all your t's and dotting all your i's. So for example, if you're throwing a River Tubing event, make sure to include a list of suggested items to bring (e.g. river shoes, towel, water bottle, etc.), include clear directions if it's a remote location, etc. Following up with photos is always a good thing too. It gives people who attended a memory of the fun they had, and shows those that weren't able to attend what they missed. I hope this helps!
In my experience, the most important factor that made our group successful was simply that we were consistent in posting events. In the very beginning, I really had no idea what i was doing with meetup. Our website was completely disorganized, I'm pretty sure our about us page was a disaster filled with even more typos then this answer no doubt will be. But the one thing I did do was consistently host events. I made it promise to our members, that our group would always have at least one event every week.
So even though we started off very small, every week our numbers would grow somewhat, until we started adding additional organizers, at which point i would no longer have to host an event myself every week if I didn't want to.
These days, the meetup community at least in my city is bigger than ever, and hosting consistent events is more important than ever. I see brand new groups start out and their first events have 150 + RSVP's. There are clearly a lot of people looking for new groups so that they can start fresh in an environment that is free of cliques. It's more important than ever to keep that initial momentum going by continuing to host new events every week.
You asked for my one thing and there it is. If you host an event every week, they will come!
Define success before you start. Ask yourself, 'What will this group being doing when it is successful?' Use as few numbers as possible and avoid a timetable in this description. Describe the mass of what it is you want to do, not the volume.
This has an impact on members because the happiest members are those who understand why they joined and why they stay. Keep repeating the goal too, even to those who have been active for a long time. Everyone needs to be regularly reminded of why the group exists. I believe it's how members decide whether or not to contribute. And this purpose need not be lofty or philosophical. It can be as simple as "Regular meet-ups with other chess players for matches and friendship." That way if you have a member who complains that you do not offer lessons, you can simply remind them, 'lessons are not part of our purpose.'
When I think of a successful group, I imagine one where an organizers could step down and the general members would not even notice. If the group's purpose is clearly defined and key members are committed to the goal, the rest is really just administration.
It's being really welcoming when people first arrive - basic stuff, remembering their name, smiling, introducing. That sets a friendly tone for the rest of the event and means you get a reputation as a friendly group.
Hi, I have been a successful organizer for over 3 years. Here are my tips, but each group varies. 1) BE ORGANIZED. This takes time to perfect. Participants are looking up to you to be the leader. Know what you are doing. 2) Always include an optional social time with your event. We are an arts group. We always plan a meal with the performance, walk, museum outing, etc. so people really get to know each other. 3) Find a way to deal with your no shows. This is difficult with large events, but if your group is small, keep track of it. I communicate with every no show and if I do not receive a suitable reply, I drop them. Sometimes I charge in advance for an event without refunds for no shows. Good luck!
Apart from the obvious things like putting on interesting events I would say the top 3 things are: 1. Being extremely well organised. 2. Replying to every question, no matter how trivial. 3. Being helpful and respectful to each member, especially newcomers.
I have had my meet-up group #SDBB for only 3 months, Today I reached 212 members, I have run 2 meet-ups and notice that there is approx a 40% no-show rate for non paid events.
We are Social Data professionals that work with Agencies, Media Companies and Global Brands, I offer terrific venues and Pizza and Beer and allow for time to Network before and after the Panel discussions.
Obtaining the rights Panelists are a Key draw for our group, Because the group took off, I have Agencies and Media Companies coming to me to request to be panelists.
I'd also like to add that the earlier (first few) meets of the group, even if not many turn up and you're still trying to get a regular or two, are important because people take the atmosphere of that and carry it forward. It comes from you in the beginning. If you're nervous and jittery, push people away or leech onto one or two, then people will remember that and it will affect the whole atmosphere and they'll tend to act like that too because you're doing it - they see it as acceptable. It might be nerve-wracking but keep your expectations not too high and be open and honest with people and be ready to repeat the story of how and why you started the group (or took it over) lots when asked!
Once you've got going and it starts getting more work to, do keep on greeting the new members and be ready to spot folk who look stuck as they come in, to help them see you as the group organiser and a solid and respectable organiser. So they know they can feel safe and comfortable meeting other new people there and can come to you if there's a problem you should deal with (happens rarely usually in a well-oiled group, but its good to know they can feel safe).
Many great points posted already (particularly from Amy).
All the above and when you start having people tell you that they joined your group because of a word of mouth recommendation then you know you are doing something right. We have always grown our group organically. No advertising, no marketing. Good old fashioned word of mouth. With so many competing meetup groups out there it good to know people are joining your group because of your reputation.
I have almost 1,000 members now and I believe the main key is the spirit of inclusivity. I make sure than no one feels on the outside. Each person is introduced right away to everyone present. We do not have cliques. I as the organizer warmly greet each and every person that comes so they feel special.
Time. We're approaching our first anniversary, and I recently noticed that we now have a strong core, and things are "flowing" much more smoothly than the first 6 months. Time and relatively consistent events has allowed the core people to get to know each other. And because of time, we usually recognize who is going to be a core member, an occasional attender, or a no-shower almost as soon as they sign up. Treat everyone the same, but put your energies into the core people. It takes off exponentially from there.
Making sure that I move around the table and talk to every new member and help them get comfortable with the group. I will do this with a member at more than one meetup if needed. I do it until I see they are into conversations with others (most get comfortable after 1-2 meetups). I make sure they feel welcomed and they don't feel that we are a cliquish group. In turn I encourage the current members to welcome others. I've been told many times by members this encouraged them to come back and keep coming. When you are in new group it can feel awkward and it's such a relief if everyone makes you feel at home. There are other things I do but I think this is the most important. It helps to read new member profiles so you know a little about them when you meet them.