Tips for Planners of 350+ Stack Overflow Worldwide Meetups!

2012 Stack Overflow Meetups!

We're less than a week away from the Meetup day (April 28), so if you haven't already secured a venue, it's important to get that done. Several people have asked about company sponsorship for their local events. Stack Exchange's stance is this: A company donating space/food/drink for the event is fine, but that using the event as an avenue for marketing or as a captive audience opportunity to profit is not ok. At the end of the day, this is about the community gathering together and having fun!

In addition to securing a venue, you need attendees! Help spread the word wherever you hang out on- and offline. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use the hashtag #SOMeetup on Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube when posting about Stack Overflow MeetUps
  • Post a link to your local MeetUp page on Facebook and Twitter, email the page to your friends, promote in blog posts, etc.
  • Use the custom Stack Overflow MeetUp widgets
  • Invite a friend or two to come with you (or coworkers!)

Remember to bring business cards so you can network at the event, and take lots of pictures! We want to see them posted on Twitter and Flickr (#SOMeetup) afterwards!

Tips for organizers

For those of you organizing the meetups, we have some tips to help your event run smoothly:

  • Post signs to direct attendees to the right location. If you're not on the first floor, or if you're in a room down the hall, or even if you're right up front in the window of a bar, post some sort of sign to let people know they're in the right place. (You can download Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange logos from our website.)
  • Have organizers identify themselves. Have a Stack Overflow t-shirt? Wear it! If not, consider posting to your meetup group with an easily identifiable accessory or outfit description. This is another way that people will know they're in the right place - and they'll know who you are so they can thank you for making the event possible!
  • Use name tags. Especially with larger groups, name tags will help break the ice and allow people to get to know each other. You can put either your real name, or your username on Stack Overflow, or both. (Bonus: Include your rep or a badge you're particularly proud of earning, and other people will have something to ask you about.)
  • Have a purpose. If your goal is just to socialize, then meeting in a bar with no planned event is fine. If you want the event to be more educational, have a set of presenters to give talks on tech subjects, and hand out a program with the speakers' names and presentation titles as people walk in the door. (These don't have to be fancy - a half sheet of paper with a list of plain text is sufficient.) If it's a discussion group, have a list of topics in case the conversation starts to fizzle. Knowing what you want to get out of the event will help ensure its success.

If you're still stuck for ideas, check out some of the events that your peers are planning!

  • Ryan Alexander planned the London meetup at the TIMGroup offices, where there will be pizza (and hummus for vegans!), lightning talks, and an Xbox Kinect.
  • Urmo Kaber has tentatively planned the Tartu meetup to include a hacking challenge followed by several presentations on topics ranging from JavaScript tricks to the Khan Academy.
  • The folks in Cambridge, MA are meeting up at a bar and focusing on the "who's who" of the Cambridge Stack Overflow community, introducing users by name, reputation score, which users are also moderators, etc.

Good luck with your planning, and we look forward to seeing you in person and online on April 28!

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