The other day, while sitting in a local coffee shop with a few friends–fellow entrepreneurs–I overheard the conversations of a local entrepreneur meetup group. While there are plenty of first-rate meetups across the country, what I observed about this one was peculiar. So much so that we couldn’t help but to steal a glimpse their way frequently — merely to observe the monstrosity.
Later that day (based on what I had observed) I was embolden to take up yet another business cause — I wanted to save the startup world, one local meetup at a time. As such, I felt obligated to do my part by sharing their meetup story as a cautionary tale of sorts.
The moral of this story is simple: Consider who you consult for business advice as you wander out there — where the wild things are. This is especially true of local entrepreneur meetups.
The Truth about (Some) Local Meetups
I support the idea of small business meetups.
Attending a meetup can instantaneously connect you with like-minded people to build camaraderie, exchange ideas and lighten the mental load of entrepreneurship. However, often times local meetups parade as “business groups” when in reality they are merely glorified social clubs or venues for hosts to prospect leads without providing value to the cause.
I witnessed the later, first-hand recently.
The meetup I observed was theoretically — the blind leading the blind. Upon an initial round of introductions they all seemed hopeful, but in the end they looked befuddled, bewildered and some…even angry.
Why? Because after the “meetup” they were no closer to achieving their business goals than the day before.
The Story of a Local Misguided Meetup
This particular meetup was an “inventors group” that a local lawyer hosts on a regular basis. It was the perfect example of how some meetups can go terribly wrong.
As I watched the small group (5 people or so) listen to their host talk about himself the entire time, never directly answer questions or share solutions– in one tremendously long ego trip–I felt a sharp attack of mental anguish for them all.
The group simply yearned for tips to help move their inventions through the product ideation phase to the patent process and finally prototype manufacturing.
What the host should have said is, “I am here in hopes of building my legal practice and taking you all on as clients.” But instead he rambled on without any valuable advice in sight.
I silently considered, “Is this what newbie entrepreneurs experience at meetups across the country?” and “If so, what a waste!”
As the meetup host babbled on about himself, oddly enough the group listened intently. It was as if they were waiting for him to divulge a great secret that would unlock the mysteries of an eighth wonder of the ancient world. As you can imagine … that hour never came.
To be fair, while the host had some basic legalese to share — he spent a large majority of the session saying a lot (but nothing at all). The glaring missing ingredient to his meetup was this: Step-by-step advice that could give these freshly-minted entrepreneurs something to work with … results.
As I sipped on my latte, I wondered… “Can this group not see what a complete waste of time this meetup is?” Of course, shortly after the MBA in the group politely excused himself early.