In this day and age – from real-time Twitter updates to Facebook statuses – everyone is moving at the speed of light. But when it comes down to making meaningful connections, nothing beats face time and live get-togethers. As a company this can be hard. VerticalResponse has more than 100K customers all around the world, which makes it impossible to get together with each of them to discuss their email and social media marketing. Generally we rely heavily on webinars, blogs, email and social media to connect with the majority, but we were looking for a way to organize smaller, intimate meetings with our users in cities around the U.S. Luckily, we found Meetup.

Meetup allows users to plan an event through the internet where people meet, eat, drink, network and maybe even hear a guest speaker or two. The point is to keep it casual and informal to allow attendees to get the most out of the event. That being said, you need to prepare and it’s pretty easy to do if you follow these 4 steps.

Why Meetup?
Think about why you want to have a Meetup and what you and your attendees will gain by attending. Start by creating an account on Meetup’s site. Craft a clear statement that explains what your Meetup is about.

Create a Group.
Once you have a Meetup account, create a Group. It’s easy. Just fill in all the pertinent details like group name, location and headline. Then choose a theme for your group page from a set of templates provided, or create your own. We chose the Meetup standard theme because it worked with our corporate colors and branding.



The next step is very important so choose carefully. You get to select 15 topics that describe what your group is about. Not surprisingly, our topics include email marketing, social media marketing, small business, direct marketing and other relevant topics for our industry. By picking these “keywords” you’ll find the right members for your group. 72 hours after you have created the group, Meetup sends out an alert email to everyone who has listed the topics or keywords you chose to categorize the group and invites them to join. Cool, huh? You can also, of course, invite your subscriber list or followers and fans to join the group, too. We tweeted the link to our group page and got a bunch of new members.


Grow the Group.
Now that you have created your group and gotten a few members, you may be tempted to create an event right away. We advise to give it a little time so you can cultivate a good membership before you announce your first event. You can even create your own holiday, like Mashable did when they created Social Media Day. Hmmm, Email Marketing Day has a nice ring to it don’t you think? Once you put a Meetup event on the calendar, announce and promote it to ensure you get people there. Include details in your email marketing and on social networks.

Be Organized.
It would be great it the magical Meetup elves would plan your event details for you, but you’ll have to cover your own bases. We recommend finding a free venue like a local bar or restaurant. If you hold your event during off peak times like a week night, many establishments will be more than happy to have 50 people show up to eat and drink. Get an accurate head count of how many people are coming so you can have enough space, food and beverages, as well as any other items you’ll need like name badges, a microphone or laptop, etc. The point is to have a well-run event that goes smoothly for everyone and facilitates the flow of conversation.Why not join VR for our next Meetup? Join our group to get the scoop.

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