6 Lessons I Learned From Organizing the First Mentorless Meet-Up in London
If you’re on the newsletter you know that last week the first mentorless meet-up *ever* took place in London.
I had never done anything like that before and now I just can’t wait to do it again. Not only was the night a great one for me personally, but I also learned several things along the way that I thought I’d share with you.
Because it was a first, and I did not googled ‘How to set up a meet-up in a foreign country‘, a lot of the decisions I took were based on instinct.
A week later, here are the data:
1 – Keep It Private
One decision I took early on was to only communicate about the meet-up through my newsletter.
No Facebook, no Twitter. I did send couple of private emails to a few friends and acquaintances, but the majority of the people who attended came through the newsletter and we met each other for the very first time that night.
My goal with this meet-up was to take the community into the real-world sphere. I didn’t want it to be about me but about us, and the best way to do that was to ensure that the meet-up would be composed of passionate storytellers who cared about this site, so they would all have at least that much in common.
My weekly newsletter is longer than your average newsletter, and beside the usual recap, it contains additional content to take your continuing education one step further. So to me, if you take 5 to open the newsletter on Sunday, chances are you are passionate about storytelling and you do enjoy the site.
This tactic proved the right one. Every person present had at least three easy entry points to connect with others (city, passion, and the site), and from the feedback I’ve received since, it turned out to be an efficient networking evening for all.
The Lesson Here: The higher the number of commonalities between people, the higher the chances of meaningful connection.
2 – Communicate Early and Regularly
I first mentioned the meet-up three Sundays before it happened. I was afraid people would get annoyed about me mentioning it over and over again, (a sorry-I-don’t-want-to-bother classic guilt trip) but now that I’ve received emails from people saying they are sorry they missed it because they opened the newsletter too late, I realize I could have started one week earlier.
The Lesson here: Don’t shy away from communicating about an event early on. As long as it’s done with taste, people won’t mind.
3 – Whatever You *Must* Do, Do It FIRST.
One of the thing you can’t find easily on my site, newsletter and social media accounts is my face. So one of the thing I had to do was to share a clear picture of me, and I really didn’t want to think about it and do it.
As you can see from the picture above, I did take a photo (or rather @enriand did) so people could find me.
The only problem: I waited until the day before the meet-up to finally take it, and when I shared it on the Sunday newsletter, it somehow got cut out from the text:
I started receiving emails from people telling me: there is no picture in the email! but because I wasn’t home, I didn’t have access to Internet until later that evening (free wifi in cafes didn’t really hit London yet), the whole thing was a hassle for everybody and their cousins, and made some readers hesitant to come. A few readers had to overcome shyness and ask random people: ‘are you mentorless?’, which actually sounds cool on paper but demands a certain courage on a grey Monday night in real life.
The Lesson here (that works for about everything in life): whatever you know you have to do, do it sooner than later so your window of opportunity to gracefully fix unforeseen problems, even minors one, will exist. Because of course, the thing that is not going to work out is the exact thing you want to avoid tackling. Otherwise where’s the fun? If I had sent that picture even a week earlier and the problem had happen then, I could have easily do it smoothly in the next newsletter. Last minute is never a good time for key moves.
4 – Have a Signature in Your Email
Something else I noticed is how much easier it is to connect with people who have a signature in their email. It sounds silly, but it makes a huge difference.
I always check a signature. If you put a link under your name, I’ll check it out. Everybody doesn’t, but why take the risk of preventing someone from wanting to know more about you?
When I mentioned the meet-up, I asked people to email me if they were coming. And it was SO much easier to connect the dots between faceless emails and in-real-life humans with the people who had signatures. It’s that much time saved to go straight to the good conversations, and when you have few hours to talk to several people, it helps.
The lesson here: If you want to increase your chances of being remembered for what you create, have a signature in your email. Have your title, your site, your social media. Have anything that is relevant and you want people to know about you.
5 – Don’t Assumer People Know Anything About You
This works for all parties, but I found it particularly relevant to me. Sometimes you get caught up in what you do and you feel that because people read your blog, or your newsletter, they read everything.
So even if people should know who you are or what you do, have your ‘story’ ready, and offer them an easy entry-point so they can either situate you or catch-up with what they missed.
The Lesson here: Make it easy for people to know what’s your ‘signature’ in real life.
6 – Don’t Let the Night Fall Into Oblivion
You might have had a great time, but the next morning, everybody is back on track dealing with their busy routine.
I have seen a lot of people exchanging emails and phone numbers during the meet-up, which was great, but just to maximize the chances of making that event something more than a fun night, I sent a private list with everybody’s emails and personal site to make sure those who left early or arrived late could still, maybe/possibly connect. (I salute you, introverts soulmate!)
I also received emails from several meet-uppers letting me know how it went for them, and what was happening next.
Those small gestures make the difference between another pleasant night and a night where you meet peers.
The Lesson here: Don’t let it end after you’ve said goodbye. Not to say that you should harass others, but sending mindful emails can go a long way.
And that’s it! Have you been to a meet-up or organized one? If so, I’d love to hear from you, what did you learned and/or noticed? Let me know below!
And as I said, I hope London will only be the first of many more meet-ups everywhere.