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Misguided Meetups: How to Host, and What to Expect from, a Local Entrepreneur Meetup

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.

How to Host, and What to Expect from, a Local Meetup

My observations of this misguided meetup presents a lesson of a) what not to do when hosting a local meetup and b) what you should expect as a meetup attendee.

Most entrepreneurs who attend meetups are desperately seeking value and solutions to their business challenges. As such, a meetup should be properly labeled so participants aren’t forced to sit through the musings of a glorified social club or soapbox superstar.

With this in mind, here are three simple ways to create tremendous value if and when you host your next meetup:

1. Be honest about your intentions.

If you own a small business and start a meetup to increase leads, be upfront about it. Build trust by immediately setting expectations. Share who you are, your strengths and what the group should — and should not — expect. Bait and switch can easily harm your professional reputation.

2. Leave your ego at the door.

This may be a hard pill to swallow, but consider this: Meetups are not all about you! As a host (and leader) your primary concern is your group. What are their challenges and pain points? How can you provide solutions and spark collaboration that will build everyone’s strengths?

3. Crowdsource ideas, stay on topic and be relevant.

Once you know why the group members attend your meetup, you can better serve them (and your business). By opening up the forum for an exchange of ideas and sharing your own, you can crowdsource new ideas. During this time, guide the discussion by staying on topic and remaining relevant. Everyone’s time is valuable.

 

In contrast, here are three things you should expect from your local meetup.

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1. Share your business challenge and what you hope to gain from attending.

Be transparent about your business needs. Everyone has likely been where you are or will soon find themselves there. Remain confident about your core competencies too. You never know! Someone at the meetup could benefit from what you bring to the table. If no one knows your needs, they cannot be met and you are likely to leave feeling as though the meetup was unproductive.

2. Create value for other meetup attendees.

If you really know a topic well, speak up. Share actionable steps on how “Sharon can increase leads on her business website by incorporating lead gen forms and developing a stronger call to action on each page.” When you offer up step-by-step advice, you automatically increase your contribution and value to the meetup. Imagine if everyone did this … local small businesses would be more empowered than ever.

3. Listen and take notes.

If your meetup group is sharing valuable advice–take notes. The one thing I know about most successful entrepreneurs is this: We are voracious learners. We are always attaining new knowledge so we can become even better at what we do. Regardless of a person’s stage in business, (almost) everyone has something of value to contribute if they are actively engaged in business.

In the end there is a marked difference between social clubs and high-quality entrepreneur meetups. If your local meetup is a glorified social group, then “call it what it is” but don’t lure well-meaning entrepreneurs in with grandiose promises of connecting with “thought leaders” when there isn’t an adequate business thought to be found.

Did I mention the climactic point of the event I witnessed that day? The host ended his brief meetup by asking one of the attendees for a quarter. The young man frowned and hesitated as he reached in his pocket to hand over the coin. Then the host proceeded to channel his inner David Copperfield and perform a magic trick.

I couldn’t help but think, “Here’s a better magic trick — spare entrepreneurs the gimmicks and please do not host another meetup — ever again!”

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Connect with Erica Nicole on Twitter.

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Photo: Gant

 

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