Why You Should Start a Meetup in 2019
“One of the biggest benefits of having your own meetup is that you make REAL friends.”
Starting a Meetup Group Will Change Your Life
A very good friend of mine, Matt Astifan, has been visiting me in Prague for the last couple of weeks.
I’ve known Matt for almost a decade and I owe a lot to my own business growth to him.
Matt is someone who is probably one of, if not the world’s – leading expert in meetups. He runs the largest internet marketing meetup in Vancouver, BC, my hometown (his hometown as well).
I thought I would do a video with him on meetups and the benefits of organizing some kind of community in your own city.
I have a couple of clients who have started doing this recently for various businesses they have and have loved it. They find it leads to meeting new friends and is really exciting. They get to spend more time with people and, as you know, one of the struggles of working for yourself can be being alone and not spending as much time with people, so starting your own community is an awesome way to do that.
So I’ve asked Matt to go through some of the benefits he’s experienced through creating this meetup group.
Matt: I’ve been running a meetup since 2009 and I’ve now helped other people start their own meetup groups or own internet masterminds chapter.
Meetup Benefit #1: You Make Real Friends
One of the biggest benefits, actually – the biggest benefit of having your own meetup or even just like your own community that you organize, and you invite your friends to and allow your friends to invite their friends too so you can kind of grow over time, is that you make friends and you make real friends.
You meet people online on Facebook and Twitter, but they’re not really real friends.
But with meetup, you get to meet real, cool people in the city that you live in.
Dan and I met through meetup, but not really directly. So we actually met through a friend that I met at one of the very first meetups I ever hosted, who was like: “You got to meet Dan.” We were both obviously in the same city at the time we got together, and 10 years later, we’re still hanging out and making this video for you.
So I highly recommend, if you’re looking to make friends in your city and living in or you’re in a new city – there’s no better way than starting your own community and meetup is a great place to do that.
Dan: Some of you guys have heard me talk about this before – most of my community, my peer group of entrepreneurs I’ve met in person (actually, I don’t think I have a single friend I’ve made online first, which is maybe weird). Most of it has been going to events back in my hometown in Vancouver.
And now in Prague my whole circle of friends is from going to coworking spaces and meetups and connecting with people through masterminds and paid events.
That has been my main support network, my main source of strategy and inspiration.
And it’s real people.
We are humans. Humans like other humans -that’s my insight for the day!
Matt: You could be somebody who just goes to meetups, which is cool. That is a good way to meet people.
But when you’re the person who hosts it, and you’re on the stage and you’re actually introducing people, bringing people together, you basically get to meet everybody and become the cool person in the room, which is a lot better than just being just one of the attendees who maybe you can shake hands with just a few people. You’re the host, you meet everybody, everybody is going to come and meet you.
Meetup Benefit #2: You Become an Influencer in Your City
Matt: The next benefit of meetups is that you become an influencer in your city.
We see influencers online, which are cool. By becoming an influencer locally in your city, it allows you to leverage a lot of power locally on many levels for many different things. You’re going to notice a lot of other influential people, even politicians, business leaders, a lot of people who host huge events reach out to you and you end up becoming friends with influential people because you positioned yourself as somebody who is a leader in your community.
Dan: I would say most of you guys reading care about people. You’re social people. You like being part of a community.
One of the things from when I lived back in Vancouver that I experienced being a friend of Matt’s and being in the local community is you go out to a coffee shop to work for two hours – how often do you meet people? I’m guessing it’s annoying at this stage, you’re like: “I’m trying to get some work done, leave me alone!”
Matt: Yeah, that’s definitely true. People come to me all the time and they’re like: “Oh, you host that meetup event or, you know, you’re the guy behind Internet Masterminds!”
Often before they were just referencing me by my Twitter username, so it’s kind of like a micro-celebrity level thing within your niche, within your community
It’s not like you become some huge celebrity, but for me, I run an internet marketing meetup so I feel like I know every internet marketer that lives in Vancouver.
And even ones who knew I hadn’t met directly one on one but they’ll approach me when I’m at a coffee shop or an event and they’ll know that I bring people together at these meetups.
Dan: So if you want to feel special, if you’re driven by ego, you know, you wish you were an Instagram model, then there’s the benefit of people noticing you.
And if you love community, and you just want to spend more time with people, you get that benefit, right?
Meetup Benefit #3: You Get to CONNECT With Influencers
Matt: The next thing is connecting with influencers. So you become an influencer. But also you get to connect with influencers, both in your city as well as people who are traveling to your city, because you can get them to speak at your events.
So what happens with that as an influencer, you might see on their Instagram or sometimes even through email newsletter, they say: “Hey, I’m traveling and I’m going to be in, you know, X city”, let’s say they’re gonna come to Vancouver.
I can reach out to them and say:
“Hey, I run this meetup group, we meet up here every week or every month or whatever and we bring our speakers to share their message. I would love to have you come and share your message.”
I’ve done this dozen of times and I’ve run this group for nearly 10 years now and almost every time I became close friends with that person who’s a big celebrity online. I mean, they’re an influencer, a big influencer in our space. They come in, they speak at our meetup and then they end up – we – end up connecting in and become actual friends, not just online friends.
So you get to be friends with and connect with and have people in your Rolodex who are influences online and I think it’s very powerful to have those kind of people to actually be friends with, not only for your personal benefit but you can also possibly help your other friends, other people in your community connect with these people who could help spread your messages.
Meetup Benefit #4: Sales
Matt: The fourth meetup benefit is sales.
So we’re at the point now with our meetups where we actually charge a small fee.
We started at $10 a ticket and we slowly gradually raised the price out for ticket sales.
But when we first started, they were just free events, just hanging out.
The way that I was actually making money from this is I would meet clients there for services that I provided, products that we had. I wasn’t ever trying to pitch or sell anything. I was just like everybody else there. I was there to network, meet people and I get clients.
So because I was a person hosting, I got to meet everybody and everybody would approach me and say:
“Well, what do you do?”
It was literally never making sales. I don’t think I’ve ever stood up in front of everyone and just like made a blatant salesperson saying: “You should buy my thing.”
Most people come up to me and ask: “What do you do? You’re a great host. We’re having fun, but what do you offer for sale?”
And then I explain it to them.
I’ve had tons of clients and more than getting even direct clients and the group itself.
I remember one year I noted that more than half of our revenue came from referrals and those referrals are coming from people who are attending our meetup groups and then referring people to our company so there’s a lot of ways that you can profit from a group when it’s very small in the early days.
When it was small, it was actually a lot more referrals and direct business from the group itself.
As it grew we actually make money from ticket sales. We do promotions for other speakers and other products and services, sponsorship, so we actually make money from just having a meetup, it’s become a business, but that took years to grow.
But initially it was either direct sales from other members in the group who just approached you.
You don’t even have to pitch yourself so don’t worry about that.
And the other side is people just know you.
They like you. They trust you. You become the go-to person that they go to to refer business to for whatever it is that you offer.
Meetup Benefit #5: SWAG
Matt: Number five meetup benefit is swag.
So what you get is when your meetup group starts picking up, you’ve been doing it for maybe a year – I recommend you can do a meetup once a week.
That’s how we originally started ours.
Now we’re one big event per month, but once a week or so – basically as many meetings as you can, as many gatherings as you can, the better.
But once you build momentum and you have a tribe, you have a community conferences come to town.
Sometimes speakers come to town or host workshops and what happens is they’ll approach you and say:
“Hey, can you help us spread the message of our event or our workshop?”
They’ll often offer you free tickets, maybe even commissions on those sales or even free entry to their workshops, which is, again, a great way to connect with these influential people, meet more people, gain more knowledge, and you’re getting free tickets to great conferences and events.
So that’s one of the more kind of fun side benefits, I wouldn’t start a meetup group just for that, but it’s going to happen and you’re going to see a lot of side benefits from having your own community.
Meetup Bonus Benefit
Matt: Last, but certainly not least, I got a bonus for you and this is something that I only started realizing after years of hosting my meetup.
I was doing the meetup as kind of a fun hobby, great way to make friends, it was not really a business and then I started noticing something.
We didn’t host the meetups for around a year and I got sidetracked on doing more online events.
It was more profitable for us.
We’re making more money doing webinars and so on…
So I was like: “Why am I even doing these meetups anymore?” And I kind of lost track of why I did it in the first place.
And people kept coming up to me and saying:
“Matt, I love those meetups, and I met this person there who helped me with my business and now we make millions of dollars literally!”- or -“I had met somebody there who I employed in my company and they’re the driving force behind my marketing department.”
So there was tons of benefits that I was creating for the community, which I wasn’t intentionally trying to do.
But by bringing people together and having other people meet people within our community, it was driving their business and allowing them to make a bigger impact in their space, in their sphere of what they were doing.
So you actually do make an impact in your community by bringing people together and hosting these events.
I highly encourage you to explore the idea of starting your own meetup group in your city for your niche.
Dan: You wanted to tell about your expansion. You’re going global, or you have gone global already, but you’re continuing.
Matt: That’s right. So Internet Mastermind started in Vancouver and our goal this year is to start expanding and building chapters all over the world.
So if you’re an internet marketer, internet marketing consultant or somebody who just has a lot of interest in internet marketing, and you’re interested in hosting an internet masterminds meetup, you can go to https://www.internetmasterminds.org to find out how to start your own chapter in your city, which means that I will give you all the format and the framework for how we’ve hosted our meetups here in Vancouver and across the world now, as well as actually coach you to build a community in your city.
So go to https://www.internetmasterminds.org to find out about that.
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If you liked this video, you may be interested:
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