Sarah is Operations Manager at Nitro. She loves to brunch all over the world and has a Giant Panda obsession. As Nitro’s go-to for company events, Sarah likes to tell people that she gets to “plan the fun” whenever asked about what she does professionally. She used Nitro Pro at her first job out of college and fell in love—she hasn’t looked back since!
For Bay Area companies, there are many reasons to host a meetup—to network, share knowledge, exchange best practices, discuss lessons learned in the industry and much more. At Nitro, we regularly open our doors to groups and individuals in the tech community who are eager to learn and meet new people.
From panel discussions to reviewing coding languages to networking events, we’re constantly looking for other organizations to partner with and support.
So what do you really need for a successful meetup? As Nitro’s Operations Manager, I have coordinated dozens of meetups and learned a thing or two about what you need to host a fun and engaging event.
Not everyone is interested in coding Scala, the same way not everyone wants to learn how to use better recruiting tools to hire top talent—so finding a topic that will both interest people and be a good fit for your company is key.
For example, I can’t imagine attending a meetup on improving company culture in a space that doesn’t offer catered lunches, the same way our engineers would scoff at attending a hackathon at a company that doesn’t even code with the discussed language. My suggestion – pick a topic that feels natural for your company’s vision and culture.
Need I say more? It’s the same idea as having friends over and not offering them something to eat or drink. Consider yourself warned – people tend to get a little hangry if they have to sit through a 2-hour speech without some type of nourishment. And if you have the budget to take it even further, beer can be an excellent social lubricant, too (especially for those shy coders).
There’s nothing worse than having a great speaker that only half the audience can hear. Know your space, know your capacity, and plan accordingly! Chairs are a must too – try to space people out so that no one is crammed next to the guy who could use some body spray (or less, for that matter), but close enough that you’re able to fill the room.
If you don’t have adequate space within your office, help out at other meetups in your building or a nearby event venue! Every meetup is an opportunity for your company to be seen as a thought leader or to show that you’re out there supporting the community.
Be sure to have your company’s WiFi login and password available from the second your guests arrive. Now, I know we’re all super fancy with encrypted passwords to prevent hackers from cracking the company code, but it’s vital to have a guest WiFi system. Busy professionals will not be happy if they can’t check their email, especially if your meetup takes place during (or at the tail end of) business hours.
In addition, I recommend avoiding using passwords that look like your parents’ WiFi key (79584620000&$#&+$#davidson, for example), your attendees will appreciate something simple and quick.
Here’s a chance to show off the company culture you’ve worked so hard to cultivate. Have a few of your all-star crewmembers available to welcome attendees as they arrive, give them a nametag and point out where the restrooms are. Signs aren’t enough—humans are the best asset to have at any meetup.
Even if your guests aren’t the most outgoing, your crew can help relax them and answer any questions. Remember, networking is 25% of every meetup.
Interested in working with Nitro to host a meetup? Let us know on Twitter @NitroHQ!