Meetup. Right format

In my previous post, I’ve described some initial thoughts about employees Communities. At the bottom of the article, I’ve identified the list of problems we’ve met during our long way to build effective Communities.

Let me share now some solutions we’ve found. I hope it will save you time if you’ll decide to make similar things.

I’ll start with Meetup since it plays a really big role in Community processes: it makes possible to share knowledge, select the most professional employees, identify trends and directions for investigations, etc.

So

What is the best format of the meetup?

In the beginning, we’ve selected “training”-like format:

  • We should prepare and share only high-quality content during meetups. It will be more positive feedback from participants, it will be more informative and effective.
  • To share such kind of content we will need around 1 hour
  • Our goal was to involve as many participants as possible. In other words, we wanted to make our communities as big as possible.

After some meetups, we’ve realized that the selected format doesn’t work. Reasons:

  1. Presenters are not happy to prepare detailed and complex content. They didn’t want to spend their time even for money. After some meetups, they skipped the opportunity to present something.
  2. Such kind meetups were rarely since we’ve searched for presenters and they spend a lot of time to be prepared before the meetup. After some time they were not regular till the total cancelation.
  3. Employees and Reporters have no opportunity to join 1-hour meetups during the working day. After the working day, they prefer to go home and spend this time with the family. Before working day – they prefer to sleep in their beds.
  4. Our goal to build a big community from scratch is not real: meetups/communities were made without a special “friendly domestic” atmosphere, it was no discussions, participants were afraid to share their small topics, etc.
  5. Profit from high-quality content was not so big as expected. We realized that to make it work it should be in training-format, but it needs much more efforts: it needs practical parts, dedicated trainer, well-prepared materials, budget.
  6. When we’ve tried to build a big community – not all community members were motivated to play an active role inside of the community. They worked even as de-motivators.

After all of these facts, we’ve made our key conclusions:

Meetup is not a training

The key goal of the Meetup is not to educate or train, but give a communication point to discuss and share ideas, knowledge, ask for help or consultation, etc.

Meetup should be easy to perform. No prepation needed!

It should be easy to share knowledge. Even small topics make sense for the meetup. No preparation is needed. You need to share the knowledge/questions/results which you already have!

Meetup should be informal

Meetup should have “open” atmosphere which should grow smoothly with community size. Only motivated employees should participate. No needs to grow the community by employees who are not motivated. The community should grow naturally. Even 4 employees enough to start.

Meetup should be short and regular.

We decided to move with 30-minutes meetup per week or two. Short meetups easy to perform since you need not prepare different content, they are not boring and don’t need your time during the working day. Regular meetups provide the feeling of community, live process. It motivates to participate and makes it clear. It makes the people organized.

The last note for today:

Meetup should be online

The offline format is not scalable and works just if you have a single office. In other cases, you need to be scalable to involve motivated people from the whole company, record it if needed, etc. It’s even simple to organize. We’ve tried to organize mixed (offline+online) meetups, but it’s increasing complexity: it’s hard to speak with the community, if you provide both options people prefer to join in online mode, you need to prepare the room, projector, microphones. As I said before – it should easy, not like this.

Don’t worry if you think that you will lose some special feelings in an online format. In the IT world, you need to be ready to communicate online. It’s a really unique case if the team is not shared. Start to work online ASAP.

Good luck! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’ve any question.

six white ceramic mugs
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