If you are reading this page, you are probably willing to start an Alfresco Meetup in you area, and you are searching for some guidance on how to do it. To help you get started, here are some questions to help you plan. The questions are interconnected, so the answer to one might be influenced by the answer to another one.
Who will come?
Meetups are open to any one, so every one is welcome. Pre-contacting the people you think might attend can give you an idea of the amount of people, and the kind of people that will come. It can be Alfresco users, developers, engineers, students evaluating Alfresco for their projects, people that just want to know about what Alfresco is, etc. It may sound obvious, but a Meetup without people is not a Meetup, so it is important to get the word out about your event. The important thing is to think about where you can contact interested people in your area. Resources include:
- Listing your meet-up on the Local_Communities page
- Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org so that it can be added to the Alfresco event calendar
- Asking Alfresco staff to help advertise the meet-up to customers and partners
- Announcing the meet-up in the Alfresco forums specific to your language
- Using a meet-up organizing service such as Meetups.com
- Reach out to local open source groups and educational programs
Where will the Meetup take place?
This is probably the hardest part of organizing the Meetup, but fortunately there are several alternatives. Many existing Meetups take place at an Alfresco office or the offices of Alfresco partners and clients. If you cannot find one of these places to hold your meetup, consider exploring some of these alternatives:
- public libraries,
- co-working or maker spaces,
- restaurants and pubs,
- hotels and conference centers (often the most expensive option).
Having a consistent location helps you to build attendance.
What are you going to do during the Meetup?
As Jeff mentioned in his blog post, '9 Things You Must Do to Have a Good Meetup', it is very important to have an agenda with interesting subjects for the attendees. It doesn't have to be long or very technical, but it must bring something to the people. Different groups will have different interests. Some might prefer an activity like a hack-a-thon instead of a presentation. Many groups will enjoy
a less formal meet-up more than one that is too serious. Provide space and time for people to socialize, as socializing is one of the reasons people gather together in a Meetup. Depending on the group and the meeting location, you might include a more recreational activity like playing ping-pong. We encourage you to record your meet-up with photos, video, a write-up. Then please add it to the list on Past Community Events.
A meet-up group needs to balance meeting often enough to develop a sense of community with meeting too often to sustain interest. Most groups seem to meet a couple of times a year.
Your meetup shouldn't cost much, but you may have to pay something to rent the space, and if you provide food or beverages that will obviously add to the expense.
To help defray the cost of your meetup it is perfectly acceptable to seek sponsorship. Alfresco meetups must be free of 'hard selling' but if someone sponsors your meetup, they should get something in return. A verbal thank you from the organizer during the opening remarks of the meetup is generally sufficient, but you could also offer the sponsor a chance to briefly introduce themselves to the meetup attendees. Generally, this should be no more than a few words (2 minutes, max) with no slides.
If your meetup has a history of consistent meetings with good attendance, you may also want to send an email to email@example.com to ask if there are funds available from Alfresco for your next meetup.
Special Note to Partners
If you are a partner who is organizing an Alfresco meetup, first of all, thank you! Your experience and contacts make you a natural fit to organize meetups in your area.
There are some special considerations partners who organize community meetups must adhere to:
- Alfresco meetup attendance is open. If you are screening attendees for any reason, you aren't conducting a meetup, you're conducting a marketing event. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, just don't call it a meetup. Events that are not open will not appear on the community event list.
- The openness policy applies to the agenda. Putting together an agenda for a meetup is hard work--you can't really afford to turn anyone away. You should let anyone speak that is interested in presenting a topic that is relevant to your meetup attendees, even if that speaker works for a competing partner. Similarly, be open to other partners who want to help organize the meetup.
- If there is already an established meetup in your area and you are thinking of starting a new one simply because the established one is organized by one of your competitors, please stop. Instead, offer to combine your efforts and make the already-established meetup even bigger and better!
- Use your meetup attendee contact information to communicate about the meetup, not for marketing purposes. Obviously, one of the great things about meetups is the opportunity to network. If someone gives you their contact info asking for a follow-up, that's wonderful. But information shared with you as part of their meetup registration should be used only for that purpose unless you have disclosed otherwise and given people a chance to opt out.
Organizing meetups is a great way for a partner to show support for the Alfresco community. Thank you ahead of time for your efforts!
Will Alfresco come speak at my meetup?
There is only one way to find out: Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the date, city, and a link to the public information about your meetup. Also include what topic you would like the Alfrescan to speak about. The community team will then help determine if someone from Alfresco can help bring that Alfresco flavor to your meetup.
These are useful places to learn more about successfully running a meet-up group.
Successful Meetups by Amy Currans, Lightning Talk at DevCon 2012, San José
9 Things You Must Do to Have a Good Meetup by Jeff Potts