Recently the management team at Chattanooga Hiking Meetup announced their first social event after hiking together for over a year. This is a great milestone as it shows that members of a hiking meetup want to get together socially.
I emailed the team a few tips on prepping and running a social event:
- Get people talking about the event ahead of time by posting friendly notes on the event page such as: “Hey, great to meet you on the hike. See you at Big River!”
- Cross-post on the Chattanooga Hiking Facebook page as well as inviting your friends who aren’t yet members of CHM. Send emails and Facebook notes to your friends who aren’t members saying “this is the best event to meet other members before getting out on the trails with us.”
- If you send new members welcome messages when they join, include a note like “We’re having monthly socials to get to know each other informally. Our next social is 9/13 and details are here: http://www.chattanoogahiking.com/events/31475952“
- Try to set a consistent place to meet at the restaurant or bar so you can tell your members “we’ll be by the big stuffed grizzly bear.”
- Work with the venue ahead of time to get drink specials or free appetizers (this gets easier as you have more events and know your typical attendance numbers).
- Leaders can wear something noticeableand consistent like red shirts and let folks know ahead of time “our trip leaders will be wearing red shirts.” We’ve had fun with this at picnics where all the leaders wear sombreros, for example:
- The most difficult thing for new members is meeting the first couple of people. Keep a watch out for folks with that lost look and offer to introduce them around at the event.
- Speaking of which, don’t be afraid to delegate ambassadorship to another member. You guys are the bosses, so if you feel comfortable, don’t hesitate to introduce a new member to one of your friends and ask them to introduce the new member around.
- Keep having the social at the same venue until people get tired of it, which they will. Start shaking things up by going to different places and maybe creating monthly themes. We’ve done events at bars, restaurants, a MINI car dealership, outdoor gear retailers, park picnic shelters; we’ve had food bank collections, fundraisers, and used book collections, etc.
Do you have any tips on running social events for your meetup or group? Let me know in the comments.