The missing leader

By guest blogger Eve

One of my friends recently moved to a new city and has been using Meetup to try to meet people. Her experience with Meetup in her old town was very positive, but in her new city she’s had less success. And much of it is because of one person, who we’ll call the Super Organizer.

Super Organizer is a classic entrepreneur who loves to start meetups. That’s great, but the problems occur because he doesn’t delegate and relinquish control to assistant organizers, and one person can only do so much. It’s hard to run five meetups well. Who ends up dealing with problems? No one. While it’s disappointing to try a meetup and find it poorly run, it’s much more discouraging to find out that all the local meetups in your area of interest are poorly run.

I recognize there are many ways to successfully structure your meetup’s management. However, there are certain activities that the Meetup system only lets the organizer do, such as receiving money or kicking out members. Because of this, organizers can’t sit back and let meetups run themselves.

Ultimately, no matter what, members need to feel confident that issues they experience will be dealt with. They don’t necessarily know (or care) who is the organizer versus who is an assistant organize or an event organizer. They just want to know that events are well-run and that problems will be dealt with.

A good organizer does the following:

  • Attends events. You don’t have to be at everything. You should be able to evaluate the competencies of the rest of the leadership team. You should have a sense if a certain type of event or venue isn’t working.
  • Talks to a variety of people. Don’t just speak to the leadership team or your friends. Draw out new members or those who seem uncomfortable. Be available to people who are experiencing inappropriate behavior.
  • Counsels or removes people who are causing problems. This ranges from making sure event leaders are safety-minded to banning members whose behavior is inappropriate.

Notice what I didn’t say: An organizer does not have to plan or lead a single event. That can be delegated. What can’t be delegated is the overall role of quality control.

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Eve is an experienced trip leader with several meetups and is an Oregon/Tennessee transplant living and working in New York City.

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