One of the things that kept me busy these past few months was attending meetups. For those not familiar with what a meetup is, it’s basically “an arranged informal meeting” around a pre-determined topic.
When I talk about meetups with most of my fellow students, I usually get the deer in the headlights look. It’s an alien idea. Something intimidating.
But there are many reasons why students should attend meetups. I outline a few of them below.
Whatever your interest is, there’s likely a meetup for it. Interested with a career in the non-profit sector? No problem – Net Tuesdays can give you ideas on what non-profits are doing. Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? The Vancouver Small Business Meetup might be for you.
If you don’t find a meetup that’s of interest to you, you can always start a group and organize one. You don’t need to be an expert to go to these events. In fact, most people are there to get and share information; it’s a great place to learn.
Truth be told, networking is not my primary purpose when I go to meetups, but I do see it as a possibility. These events attract like-minded professionals, so they are a perfect place to network.
Whenever I go to a meetup, my following on Twitter always increases by at least five. Now, I’m not saying that each one of those followers will result to an opportunity, but networking is pretty much a game of numbers. The more you connect with, the more possibilities.
Most meetups are free, which is fantastic considering the quality of information you usually get. Conferences and workshops usually offer student discounts, but you can’t beat free stuff. In the last Third Tuesday meetup, I heard from RichardAtDell, a member of the Dell social media team. I don’t know any other way you can hear from insightful speakers at no cost.
From my experience, where there’s a small charge for a meetup, the proceeds were given to a charity.
Meetups have a few disadvantages, but all of these are workable. First, there are too many meetups; just check Meetup.com to see how many alternatives there are. There’s a quick solution for this: Use the “find” feature on Meetup and try several keywords that’s related to your interest. If you’re on Twitter,you can also keep an eye out for what meetups your professional networks are attending.
Some also question the quality of the meetups. As I’ve already said, my experience with meetups so far have been great. If you’re really worried, though, you can check the rating of a meetup before you RSVP.
CONCLUSION: Meetups are a great way to learn new things and meet new people. If you’re a student, you should take some time from your busy schedule to attend these events. It’s an affordable way to develop your skills and grow your network at the same time.
Ever been to a meetup? I’d love to hear your experiences – share them with me!