Saturday, September 25, 2010

Been to a meetup lately? If not, why not?

I’d like to think I’m keeping pace with current Internet trends, but I keep discovering that I’m wrong. Take “meetups,” for example. They have been around for nine years; yet, I had never attended one until last night. Where had I been, I wondered, while my savvier peers were sitting around large tables, soaking up information, and networking like crazy?

Here are some of the things I learned (you probably know most of them already):

A meetup is

Just what it sounds like—a bunch of people who get together at a specified time and place to discuss a particular subject of interest to all of them. Wikipedia, which tends to be wordy, defines a meetup as “an online social networking portal that facilitates offline group meetings in various localities around the world.” Co-founded by Scott Heiferman, Matt Meeker, and Peter Kamali in 2001, meetups have become an international phenomenon. (Don’t you wish you had thought of it?)

How to find a meetup to attend

  • Go to, and enter your zip code or area of interest.
  • Learn about one that sounds thought-provoking, and register online.
  • Tag along with someone as a guest.
  • Start your own meetup group.

You will benefit from a meetup by

  • Learning more about a topic that interests you
  • Meeting new people with similar interests
  • Developing valuable contacts
  • Letting people know you are and what you do

What to do at a meetup
  • Observe the protocol before you start talking.
  • Have your “elevator speech” prepared.
  • Deliver it with confidence in a voice loud enough to be heard.
  • Distribute business cards, promo materials, direct-mail pieces, etc.
  • Participate in the discussion. Ask questions. Answer questions. Comment.

The meetup I attended is called “Tiny Business, Mighty Profits.” It was founded and conducted by Russ Henneberry, a dynamic marketing expert who knows a great deal about Web design, social networking, WordPress, and how to maintain the rapt attention of twenty-seven people for two hours without missing a beat.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

No substitute for "face time"

The Internet is a fabulous connector of people. The world truly does become smaller when total strangers can view a video or Google a phrase and find the perfect person to provide just the service they need. My business would not exist without the World Wide Web. My only regret is that I don't have enough to time to surf all of the Web and social networking sites I'd like to.

My clients come from everywhere, and quite often our relationships are restricted to e-mail and phone calls. Despite the limitations of electronic communications, we do become close. This past weekend, however, I was reminded of how important it is meet my authors in person. It is a truly magical experience after all the disembodied conversations we have shared.

Rob (yes, that's his real name) and I met for the first time last Friday when I picked him up from the airport. We greeted each other like long-lost relatives and spent the weekend sharing meals, great conversation, and long hours of working on his book. I taught a writing class on Monday night, and Rob graciously agreed to share his experiences as a new author with my students.

They were enchanted. I could have explained for weeks on end what Rob conveyed in one short hour. No amount of theory is as real or convincing as hearing someone share what he has learned, often the hard way, on his way to becoming a published author.

In today's world, people—especially young people—spend a disproportionate amount of time talking to each other over the airwaves. They may think that's real communication, but from the perspective of someone who grew up having to share a phone with my whole family, it is a poor substitute for standing in the same space and actually looking at the person I'm talking to.