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  • Chase Livingston 3:38 pm on August 22, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
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    Categories: Meetups ( 15 )

    This Week in Meetups 

    I’m hoping to begin posting what happened with meetups each week as a recap so everyone can stay up to date and get involved if they’re interested. So here it goes:

    • Rolled in Cumbria meetup to the chapter program
    • Created Lehigh Valley meetup group.
    • Processed all remaining applications that were in the meetup queue
    • Scheduling chats for creating and/or rolling in other meetups to come
     
  • Jen Mylo 4:04 pm on August 20, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
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    Categories: Meetups ( 15 )

    New Process for Existing Meetups 

    As you know, the process for existing meetups to join the chapter account has been a pain since day 1. They apply, we say yes, they go on a spreadsheet, we wait for meetup.com to contact them, meetup org has to reply to email and fill out form, half the time the meetup email goes to spam, we ask meetup to resend, repeat, repeat, and eventually meetup.com adds the group to our account. ARGH! (says any meetup organizer who had to go through that)

    Shiny new process:

    • Existing meetup org applies (same as before)
    • We review, chat with them, approve (same as before)
    • We have the WordPress account join the meetup group
    • The current owner uses meetup.com tool to nominate WordPress to be the new primary organizer (pay the dues) following the meetup.com instructions in the section labeled Nominate a new organizer.
    • We receive email from meetup.com and accept the role.

    Donezo!

    Why did we have to follow the old process for so long? No one seems to know, and the person who started us doing it that way has moved on from the company. In any case, now it’s easier. @chaselivingston has been handling meetup applications, but we could use another volunteer or two to help.

    If you’d like to volunteer to help:

    • You should have excellent written and verbal communication skills.
    • You should be capable of recognizing when someone is not respecting the WP trademark and/or license.
    • You should be someone who’s known to Jen or Andrea and considered trustworthy (via this team is fine, doesn’t need to be known in person), since the limitations of meetup.com require us to share a username/password with this volunteer.
    • You should be part of a meetup group that’s on the chapter account, unless you are in an area that doesn’t use meetup.com, in which case you should be part of a meetup group that can be approved as meeting the guidelines (since we’re now starting to approve non-meetup.com groups outside the US).

    If you’d like to volunteer, leave a comment and/or mention it in tomorrow’s meeting.

     
  • Jen Mylo 6:32 pm on August 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
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    Team Chat Agenda, August 7 2014
    Topic: Meetups/Local Events

    Vote on format for today’s chat (irc text vs zoom video) in the comments and propose agenda items.

     
  • Jen Mylo 3:30 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
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    Categories: Meetups ( 15 )

    Meetup Sponsorships and Other Local Community Stuff 

    Current Status: I tell meetups on the chapter account that the Foundation will cover meetup.com dues and approved venue fees (based on reasonable budget, etc), and that they can allow local sponsors to provide refreshments if desired. I’ve tried to stay away from having a lot of clunky rules, but we’re starting to get so many meetups on the account, with so many organizers (including many who weren’t around when the group joined/we went through the rules) that I’m starting to see some questionable/inappropriate stuff come up around sponsorships.

    I do not want to make top-down rules that squelch the freedom and individuality of the local communities.

    I do want local communities to be about sharing knowledge and connecting with each other, not about selling the community/events as a cheap marketing platform.

    To that end, I need your help! I think we do need to come up with some (preferably light) rules around sponsorship and what’s okay to do under the WordPress name.

    A meetup sponsorship example I’ve liked:

    • Asking local sponsor to cover refreshments and putting a tent sign near those refreshments with thanks, and noting in the meetup event description (which also is emailed to group members) that they are sponsoring the refreshments and who from that company will be in attendance if anyone is coming.

    A meetup sponsorship example that is pressing every button:

    • Paid speaking time at meetups, printed signs and tablecloths at meetup (paid for by meetup group), and forcing attendees to go to sponsor table for drink tickets.

    The example I mentioned above had these three issues off the bat:

    • Pay-for-play. Letting anyone give money to the group in order to buy speaking time is not cool. Meetups are short, and people are giving up time with their families to attend, so we should not be using up their time with advertising.
    • Plastering marketing materials. Covering the meetup space with logos and signs is distracting and unnecessary. It definitely should not be getting paid for by the meetup group. Acknowledgement/thanks and explicit marketing are different things, and we should err on the side of acknowledgement. We’re talking about pizza money here, not a new hospital wing.
    • Forcing interaction with sponsors. Sponsors who attend the meetups because they are interested in the topics, love WP, and want to engage with the community are excellent. Forcing the attendees to interact with sponsors is not excellent, it should be optional.

    We’ve discussed the idea of merging the currently-separate WordCamp/Meetup programs into one Local Communities program for easier administration and to make the multi-event sponsorship program even more robust, but until we get to something bigger like that, I’d love some help figuring out where to draw the line for meetup sponsorships.

    What do you all think about meetup sponsorships? What rules would you suggest as appropriate? Or do you think we don’t need rules, we just need better education? Any and all suggestions greatly appreciated, and since we just had our meetups team chat last week, if there’s a lot to discuss based on comments, maybe we can discuss this week after the diversity/mentorship stuff is taken care of.

     
    • Jesse Friedman 3:44 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I understand why why the second example would be over the top.

      How about $X sponsorship in exchange for a thank you slide at the beginning and end of the presentations. The moderator takes a few seconds to thank the sponsor, point them out in a crowd and let attendees know they can talk to the sponsor if they so choose.

      Jesse

      • Dustin Filippini 3:55 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I tend to shy away from money sponsorships. I prefer just dealing in the universal currency of pizza. I also don’t want to have to worry about handling money for group. The only times I have, is when I have bought food myself and put out a donation jar. My sponsorships are usually just food and drinks and/or venue space to make it easier. I’ve never had much expense over those things that I would need money for in running a meeutp.

        • Jen Mylo 3:56 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Yes, ideally the sponsor can just pay for the refreshments directly. At some point we may change what we cover from the foundation in terms of refreshments, but for now that’s ideal.

    • Chantal Coolsma 3:45 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I guess that sponsorship for refreshments or even a location is okay. Any other sponsorship that leads to promotion of the sponsor on the meetup is not done in my eyes. It is all about the community, not the sponsor.

    • Dustin Filippini 3:45 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      You hate to start off the bat looking like you are managing it too tightly. So, maybe a suggestions/education would work well. Try to get everyone to understand that you don’t have to bow down to sponsors just because they are buying a few pizzas.

      I’ve been lucky, but for the meetups I’ve ran (WordPress along with two others in Milwaukee), I haven’t had a problem with sponsors asking for too much. Typically, they will buy pizza and drinks. I tell them to feel free to come and interact with the people. I usually will give them a thank you at the beginning of the meetup and will allow them about a minute to say hi to the group. They can bring flyers or info for people to grab if they’d like. I also will typically thank them at the end of my meetup description with a link to their site. If we have ongoing sponsors, like our current venue who also buys us food each time, I add them to the sponsors area on the side of the meetup page.

      The whole idea of meetups is about building a sense of community and you should encourage the sponsors to become part of the community as well rather than using it as a billboard. They will eventually realize that it will end up being more beneficial in the long run as it builds a better rapport with the people attending.

      • Chantal Coolsma 3:46 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Agree

      • Jen Mylo 3:56 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Agreed with everything there except the giving the sponsor the opening of the meetup, even if it’s only a minute, that’s basically an interstitial ad in real life. “Skip intro”! :)

        Jesse’s suggestion of the event host pointing them out feels better.

    • Drivingralle 3:59 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Our Meetup have to pay rent for the event-space at our CoWorking-Space. There for every month one of our members, who is self-emplyed, freelancing or having a company, act as a sponsor.
      The Sponsor is written down in announcements and reports. A verbal thanks at the start (incl. Applause) and at the end of the meetup is also given.

      I convinced the other member of the meetup to try the system, because we are 90% self-emplyed people. Also having a sponsor out of our own rows supports connecting the local people/businesses.

      • Jen Mylo 4:04 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Which meetup group are you with, this one? http://www.meetup.com/Hamburg-WordPress-Meetup/

        When I set up that group for Torsten in December, I told him that if a donated venue couldn’t be found, the Foundation would cover the cost. If rotating the coworking payment is something you’re happy with we can let it stand, but if you want to have the venue fees taken care of (and let member freelancers sponsor snacks or dirnks instead), please let me know.

        • Drivingralle 4:15 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Hamburg (Germany) is right.

          At the moment the system works. We’ll maybe rethink it after WC Hamburg.

        • Drivingralle 4:23 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Hamburg (Germany) is right.

          At the moment the system works. We’ll maybe rethink it after WC Hamburg.

        • Torsten Landsiedel 9:33 am on May 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          I must have missed this information. We asked Andrea Middleton about using the money from WordCamp Hamburg to pay this venue bills, but she told us to ask you, Jen. But I think this case is closed now… ;) Thanks for the offer. As Ralf wrote, we will rethink this after the WordCamp in June.

      • Veerle Verbert 10:16 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I like the idea of a rotating system; if it’s only for a bit of food, drinks and a thank-you for the speakers, it ain’t much when you’re making a living out of WordPress (even with occasional projects). It’s actually just another opportunity to give a little bit back to the community.

        We just had our first meetup and as organisers we paid the bills. Paying them each month/two months would add up, rotating is a nice idea to keep it external-sponsor-free. I’ll bring it up ;)

    • Andy McIlwain 4:03 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Some rules-of-thumb that I’ve always liked:

      • Sponsors can be financial or in-kind.
      • In-kind usually means refreshments, venue space, A/V recording, or other supplies.
      • Giveaways/discounts for the group are welcome, but are *not* sponsorships, and are not recognized as such.
      • Sponsors are recognized on the Meetup page; shout-out during meetup; and on signage.
      • Sponsors can have a short (1-2 minute) pitch about who they are and what they do. I don’t see the difference between this and the organizer doing the shout-out. There’s nothing wrong with promotion as long as its tactful.
      • If there are presentations during the meetup, nothing wrong with sponsors presenting, as long as the presentation is something valuable and not just a sales pitch (at organizers’ discretion).

      (A lot of this is similar to Dustin’s.)

      It’d be great if sponsors would be happy to throw money at community groups for the feel-good vibes and with minimal expectations of recognition, but there’s little reciprocity there.

    • Drivingralle 4:22 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Hamburg (Germany) is right.

      At the moment the system works. We’ll maybe rethink it after WC Hamburg.

    • valentmustamin 11:37 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Agreed with everything, incl not giving the sponsor the opening of the meetup. But how about with this “mutual” case: I’m working on preparation for 3rd Jakarta WordPress Meetup (http://meetup.com/Jakarta-WordPress-Meetup) in June. And one of the most prominent university in Jakarta already make an offer, to use their main hall with capacity 400 seats, as our meetup venue for FREE. (Yes, 400 seats as Matt will be keynoting). And my plan exactly the same with Dustin, is to give them a thank you at the beginning and also allow them to say hi to the audiences for a couple of minutes.

      • Jen Mylo 6:22 am on May 8, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Thanking them up front is very good to do. Having them address the audience directly is basically an exchange of publicity for services, rather than it being a donation, so it is less good when that happens. Of note, when WordCamps have allowed sponsors to say something to the audience at the beginning before the event starts, I typically hear negative feedback from attendees, who feel like it defuses their start-of-the-event enthusiasm while they wait for the sponsor blurbs to be over. This goes for overly long thanks as well. I would suggest jumping right into your real content, especially if Matt is speaking. If you really want them to address the audience directly, I’d put it at the end rather than the beginning, so that you’re not in effect making the attendees sit through a commercial before getting what they came for.

  • Jen Mylo 7:47 pm on May 1, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: meetup starter pack   

    Categories: Meetups ( 15 )

    Meetup Starter Packs 

    When someone starts a new meetup group, what should we provide them to get started?

    • Table signs
    • Flyer templates
    • Buttons/stickers
    • Sign in sheet templates
    • Event organizer handbook (need to make one)
    • Leave your suggestions in the comments
     
    • lorax 7:57 pm on May 1, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      The swag is nice but the help I’d like has more to do with support a) get it up and running and b) feedback and sounding board for ideas and issues.

    • Michael Beil 8:23 pm on May 1, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      These are great ideas for the starter packs. Will those flyer templates include social (fb, tw, g+) banners (in psd)? What about a powerpoint/keynote template?

    • Jackie Dana 8:46 pm on May 1, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      As someone who used to long for these things… I’d vote for signs, swag and – wow – a handbook. (We actually could still use signage!)

    • Greenweb 11:26 pm on May 1, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Our meet up group in Greenville SC would love some swag :)

      • Chase Livingston 11:40 pm on May 1, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I’ll work on that, I’m part of the Upstate SC group as well.

        • pwbrowne 5:07 pm on June 29, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          I love the idea of a handbook and would be happy to contribute to that. Also, signs would be great for our group. I appreciated the ones the Asheville meetup had directing us to the room.

    • Noel Tock 7:16 am on May 2, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      As part of the handbook:

      • List of talk/presentation ideas
      • Venue/location ideas
      • One page interviews with successful meetup groups (why did you start the group, what is making it successful today, etc.)
      • Getting a sponsor or sponsors to cover your drinks/food
    • Andy McIlwain 3:01 pm on May 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      A few from our own list/box:

      • Name badges.
      • Memo pads, pens.
      • Organizer checklist. (Could be in the handbook.)
      • Direction signs for the venue. (e.g. “Meeting in Room #111 upstairs”)
    • Nathan Driver 3:53 pm on May 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I really like the ideas of:

      • Name badges
      • Memo pads/pens
      • Handbook – this could REALLY come in handy with topic ideas / discussions / etc.

      One thing that stood out is the swag concept. I like swag as much as the next person but for MeetUp’s it needs to be more than just ‘stuff’. While great, it can come across as gimmicky especially if its every month (or every other). I would suggest if there is some type of swag its once a year on their anniversary.

      Just my .02 cents.

      • Andy McIlwain 10:42 pm on May 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        What if the “swag” was something you received only upon joining the group? So all first-timers get some kind of memento, e.g. something you can wear to future meetups (nicer name badge, for example, or a pin).

    • Andrs Villarreal 3:58 am on May 6, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      We started a Meetup group one year ago in Buenos Aires, but for now we’re only making informal reunions for anniversaries, just to know us and hang out with each other (in fact we’re having a meetup on May 27th), and we’re planning to throw events more often from now on, so a word of advise from someone with more experience would be great to hear. Swag could lead new people to believe we’re serious about this as a project, but I think is the content what will make people keep coming.

    • Dustin Filippini 3:51 pm on May 7, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I think the info to educate and support the organizers will be the most beneficial. I love my swag, but people come more for the community, the people, and the talks. Templates for signage may be nice, but I’ve never taken attendance, put up flyers advertising, or used table signs. Occasionally, I’ve quickly printed up a directional sign if I had to direct people somewhere. I’d put the most effort into educating would-be organizers.

    • David Laietta 7:34 pm on June 5, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      For a meetup “starter kit”, this is mainly things that would be suggested to a new meetup getting started. The goal in my mind is to preemptively answer some of the questions that they may have, as well as offer suggestions on getting started.

      I’m breaking it into physical items that may be required, as well as things that would go into a guide or handbook that new organizers would receive.

      **Guide/Handbook
      Ideas for finding meeting space, with tips on how to get free space or handle donations
      Finding sponsors for your events
      Tips on handling negative attendees
      Pros and cons of multiple organizers
      Thoughts on meetup frequency and duration
      Ways and places to promote your group
      Tips on attendee limits and enforcing attendance
      Suggestions to “sell” the meetup and grow attendance
      Additional places to keep the group organized (such as Facebook groups or a group website)

      **Physical Items
      Meeting space with proper seating
      A projector to display lectures, as well as cables/connectors to handle multiple computers
      A video camera to record lectures
      Something to collect donations if your group does that
      WP swag!
      Snacks/Beverages as permitted

  • Jen Mylo 6:47 pm on May 1, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
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    Categories: Meetups ( 15 )

    Team chat today, topic: Meetups.

    • Update on program
    • Get volunteers to work on meetup starter pack
    • Survey reports
    • Swag packs
    • Mentorship program

    If you have more meetup-related items for the agenda, leave a note in the comments.

     
  • Jen Mylo 2:07 pm on April 24, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
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    Meetup.com Update — April 24, 2014 

    Good news on the meetup.com front: the personnel change that had us in flux has turned out to be a good thing. Now that Laura at Meetup.com is handling the chapter program, she has agreed to let us do existing group roll-ins monthly rather than quarterly. This is great news, because the once-every-3-months thing was a pain in butt logistically, and sometimes meant that dues came up for renewal before the next roll-in (though meetup.com has generally been good about prioritizing people in that situation). With this new schedule, we can keep forward momentum going a lot easier from the moment someone applies to join the program.

    Emails were sent from meetup.com to everyone on the current quarterly roll-in list. So far in this round, these meetup groups have been added to the WordPress account:

    These groups were sent the opt-in form at the same time by meetup.com on 4/21 but have not yet responded.

     
  • Jen Mylo 6:48 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
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    Meetup.com Status Update 

    The quarterly roll-in is a little behind. For some reason we didn’t get confirmation of our payment until April 8 (about a week later than expected), and the person who does the roll-ins of existing groups hasn’t been in touch (normally that happens immediately upon payment of the quarterly bill). I contacted that person and the person who runs the chapter program yesterday expressing my nervousness about the timing, especially since a couple of the groups joining the program had expiring dues and were marked in red on the spreadsheet. I’ll do everything I can to make sure no group has $$ trouble because of this delay.

    There are 18 existing meetups waiting to be rolled in (some were from the last time who filled in the application so close to the end that they didn’t make it in that round). There are about half a dozen new meetup (no existing group) applications in process.

     
    • Jen Mylo 9:37 pm on April 18, 2014 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Heard back, the person who was managing the chapter program is moving to a new role, and the person who used to handle the roll-ins is taking that job, so there’s a little flux over there. I’ve been assured that our roll-ins will be addressed on Monday. I reiterated my concern about the couple that had expiring dues.

  • Jen Mylo 11:57 pm on April 17, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
    Tags: , orientations   

    Categories: Meetups ( 15 )

    Meetup Orientation Hangouts Schedule 

    We’ll try a few different topics and time slots over the next couple of weeks to see what works best.

    For organizers of existing groups who want to join the chapter account (or have questions because they’re not sure):

    • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at 23:00 UTC (4pm Pacific, 7pm Eastern) Event page

    For people who want to start a new group on the chapter account:

    • Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 17:00 UTC (10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern) Event page
     
  • Jen Mylo 3:27 pm on April 3, 2014 Permalink | Log in to leave a Comment
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    Categories: Meetups ( 15 )

    Team chat today, topic is meetups. If you’d like a meetup-specific topic on the agenda, please leave a comment on this post.

     
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