Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Meetup - A high tech, high touch networking tool

This week’s post comes from Christine Gertz, CAPS’ Library and Information Specialist. 

When students are about to try something new career-wise, such as starting a business or moving to a different city for an internship, we often urge them to talk with people they know to get advice or ideas. I’m not skeptical when people tell me they don’t know anyone they can reach out to. There are plenty of people on this campus who have left their families and friends behind to study here or who don’t want to go into the family business but pursue something else. There are also many new things a person might want to learn more about but of which people in their current network have no knowledge.

If meeting people in person matters to you when trying to learn about something new or to build your network, one tool you can use is Meetup.

Meetup is an online service you can use to find groups in you region and then get together in person. Meetup’s tagline is “neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something.” To form a Meetup, the organizer commits to getting people together face-to-face. (If you don’t want to meet in person, then try Google Hangouts.)

Joining a Meetup group is usually free. Some organizers ask that you pay a fee, which is not unreasonable because Meetup charges the organizers to create and maintain a group, and other organizations use Meetup to advertise ticketed events.

Without signing up for Meetup, you can see events in your area or search for events in a location you want to visit. For example, if you are going to Los Angeles for a conference, search Los Angeles for groups that interest you and message the group’s organizer to see if you can attend their Meetup. Any open group will allow you to see the information about the group, its organizers and its members. Closed groups will appear in a search, but you have to apply to join and it is up to the organizers to decide if they will let you join their group or not.

You can sign into Meetup using your Facebook account or you can create a separate account on the Meetup service. If you connect your Facebook profile to your Meetup account, you can see the groups your friends are members of and you can join a group where you already know someone. Meetup will also ask for permission to push out notifications on your Facebook feed of the groups you plan to attend, but the decision to turn that feature on is up to you. You can also sync your Meetup calendar - either all events in your groups or only the events that you have RSVPed to attend - with your Google, Outlook or iCal calendar so you don’t have to manage a separate calendar of Meetup events.

Two Meetups that are career-related, which you can use to see some of the upcoming events and how events and memberships are managed on Meetup are:

· Business Link Alberta

· Startup Edmonton

You can also select groups based on your hobbies, such as playing games, or based on your educational interests, such as studying Spanish.

Meetup is a simple tool that you can use to build your local network and improve your social and business connections.

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