Tag Archives: organizer

Pet Peeves of a Meetup Leader

Most of our posts here focus on how you, as a group leader, can better run your Meetup or other community. I’m not one to complain normally, but I was recently having a conversation with Dante who runs several meetups under the umbrella Outdoor Club South (visit the Atlanta club here). We were chatting about some of our pet peeves as meetup leaders, so I thought I would vent a little. In no specific order:

  • Members emailing the organizer of a meetup and not mentioning the event they’re referring to. I get emails that say “Can I bring my dog to this hike” or “I’m not going to be able to make this event after all” with no mention of what event they are speaking of. We do an average of five events per week. Please, members, be specific about the meetup you’re talking about. It saves all the back and forth emails.
  • Members emailing me as the organizer about something that should instead go to the event host. Yes, I do say in my welcome emails and in my About Page that members can email me with any questions, but usually I have to forward on these questions to the event host himself. We’re pretty clear about who the host is for each event, so please save me a couple of minutes and contact him or her directly.
  • Members complaining about how many emails they receive. Hey, you can update your settings here and only get the emails that you want.
  • Members complaining that they didn’t receive notice about a new event posting. Did you turn your emails off? How would I let you know about a new event then?
  • Members complaining about an event that isn’t even ours. I know, most Meetup users are members of multiple groups and it might get confusing sometimes, but please make sure you’re referring to the right Meetup before complaining to a specific Meetup organizer.
  • Members complaining about an event or a park or a hike that they’re not even going to attend. A member once complained about how crowded a spot was and how overpriced the food was last time she visited that park. Is that really helpful?
  • No-shows on events that have an RSVP limit. Dante wrote about this here. I don’t care if you’re a no show on a social event, usually because the venue is very flexible and I don’t mind if we’re plus or minus ten percent on attendee count. It’s the limited event that we have to drive a couple hours to hike that I’m talking about.
  • Asking questions that are already answered in the event details. Please read every posting carefully before shooting off that email or posting your question on the event page.

What are your Meetup pet peeves, either as a member or leader? Let me know in the comments.

See Kelly Stewart’s Google+ profile.

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Adding value

By guest blogger Eve

Call me lazy.

It’s true: One of the reasons I like to do things with Meetups is that the leaders do some of the work for me. If it’s hiking, they scout the trail, and they figure out times and trains/carpools. If it’s eating, they find out about new restaurants, and they make the dinner reservations.

Hiking boots!

I went on a hike this past weekend that used mass transit to get us to the hike. However, this wasn’t a simple “get off the train and go,” as the park was a mile from any stop. The leader had spent a lot of time (including a scouting trip) to find the closest transit and then to find palatable routes to the park, minimizing road walking. Even if I had been willing, I don’t know the area well enough to have done that kind of planning. The group enabled me to see an area I thought was off-limits without a car. That is one reason I hike with a group.

But I see far too many Meetup events like this one:

You are responsible for your own travel to [out-of-town location]. You need to make your own reservations for the campground. You can choose the route you want to go; we will not hike together.

At that point, I scratch my head and ask, “Why I am hiking with a group?”

The key to your job as an organizer is in the name – organizer. That means it’s up to you to do more than pick a day and expect people to show up.

To be fair, an organizer can’t do everything. Nashville Hiking Meetup has held events at campgrounds without group sites, meaning that members had to book their own campsites. But NHM provides carpools and plans group outings for these events. For restaurant and movie meetups, it’s reasonable to expect members to buy their own food or tickets. And yes, given a map and an address, your members should be able to find their own way – to local events.

If you are asking your members to do much more than that, you are abdicating your responsibilities as an organizer. I know it’s a lot of work – I’ve done it. But that’s one advantage of having a deep leadership pool; you don’t have to do it every time.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you a checklist of “the things a leader must organize on every event.” Events are too varied for that. As a general guideline, however, if the event is out of town or longer than a day, you should take some of the planning work out of the attendees’ hands. Arrange carpools (and let members opt out if they wish). Reserve a group site. Plan group activities. Give drivers turn-by-turn directions. Arrange group deals with a specific outfitter.

While many people use meetups to meet new people, the job of the organizer doesn’t stop with saying, “Come, meet cool people here at this time.” He or she has to add some additional value, and most of that value comes from the behind-the-scenes work of organizing and planning.

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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. See Eve’s Google+ profile here.

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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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