Thoughts on Meetups

I started going to Meetups when I moved to Chicago as a way to meet new people. Before that I didn’t have any experience going to Meetups in Minneapolis. I found going to Meetups was a great way to get out and have fun with total strangers. Even better if there’s a shared interest like a concert or programming aspect between everyone.

There are two types of Meetups that I’ve discovered: The first is brings groups of people that share a high level features or attributes. These are generally titled something like “New to town”, “20 somethings” or “After work networking”. I’ve always had fun going to these Meetups because so many different people are there, but have never gone to more than a couple because I feel that it’s hard to find a common interest between everyone.

The other type are geared toward more specific groups like “C# developers”, “Indie Rock Concerts”, “Hackers and Founders” or “Tall People” (I actually got invited to a tall person Meetup once. The Tall People Meetup was for anyone 6’1 and over if you’re looking to join). Like the more generic Meetup, this one also brings in a wide variety of people, however my take is they are more successful because there is a specific common denominator bringing everyone together. That common denominator or shared interest is a programing language or specific band.

Conversations flow better for me at the specific Meetups because I know that the person I’m talking to has the same interests as me. If we’re at an indie rock Meetup it’s easy to get into conversation about the band that we are seeing. The same goes for the specific programming or technology Meetups. Asking what projects people are working on, what they hope to get out of the Meetup and what are some of the cool things they’ve done with a specific technology usually lead to pretty good conversations. I find that it’s harder to get into deep conversation at the general Meetups because there’s a lot of time spent trying to find that middle ground. Not that those types of Meetups are bad or less than, they’re popular for a reason, they just don’t work well for me. I’ve actually met some my best friends at soccer Meetups and indie rock Meetups. It’s seems if there is an activity like soccer and concerts or a specific topic like coding then I’m more likely to really get into a good conversation with someone.

With all that said there is a really great technology focused Meetup in Minneapolis called Hackers and Founders that meets the first Tuesday of every month at a brewery in Minneapolis. What I like about this meetup is there isn’t a talk or any topic that needs to be discussed. It’s a good mix of the Twin Cities tech community coming together to discuss startups, ideas, programming and technology over delicious German beers at Utepils brewery. Sometimes we sit at tables and other times we just stand around. It’s all very free flowing.

If you are a tech person in the Twin Cities I recommend checking out Hackers and Founders. Everyone I’ve met has been super welcoming and friendly. You don’t need to be a technology person to have fun with this group, I’ve met great people here without a tech background and just thought the Meetup sounded cool.