Part two in my series on creating a meetup is going to cover everything in the past week (since the first post).
I actually wrote the first post immediately after attending Matt Hutchinson’s group in Columbus. Matt gave me so many things to think about, and lessons he learned from starting his own group, that I found it fitting that I attend his group first.
Matt’s group focuses exclusively on testing, but any one interested in the topic is welcome to attend. Matt comes up with topics for each session and posts them on the group’s site ahead of time. From what I can tell from attending one session, Matt’s focus is on the discussion. He has a minimal number of slides, used to show a brief agenda and to cover introductions, and uses the projector the rest of the time to display sites and information relevant to the topic at hand. Matt’s role is to facilitate the discussion, not run it. He jumps into the conversation when he has something to add, or when it starts to fizzle out. The meeting I attended dealt with mobile testing, a topic Matt freely admitted he knew little about. Despite having little prior knowledge, Matt researched the topic and came prepared with a variety of sites covering information on tools and information that he peppered throughout the discussion. He has a core group of regular attendees, and a rotating group outside of that. There were 17 of us (if I remember correctly), and for it being the first meeting in a new location that did not seem like a bad turnout to me.
If you are in or around the Columbus OH area and you are looking for a tester meetup, I highly recommend you hit up the Software QA & Testing Meetup.
Two days later, I met with Jeff ‘Cheezy’ Morgan on the Leandog boat. I had though about talking to someone at Leandog about the meetup for some time. When I started fishing for info on Twitter and mentioned I was in the Cleveland area, I received a (small) barrage of messages from Michael Bolton telling me I needed to talk to Leandog. (I listened eventually, see?) Jeff told me about the various groups that they already run or host, and I explained what I was looking for in a group. He gave me some great advice on recruiters, sponsorship and location. Jeff is also the person who got me to just go ahead and post my meetup site now (more on that in a second). I felt very lucky to get the chance to meet with Jeff (it feels weird to me to call a man cheezy unless he asks me to). Once I get to the point of setting up my first meeting, I may have to hit him up again about possibly hosting it. The boat is in a pretty central spot for pretty much anyone around Cleveland.
So I made a page. I renamed the thing two or three times wavered on some stupid ones, and got a gem of a name (with a handy acronym) from Michael Bolton: Northern Ohio Testers in Collaborative Engagement, or NOTiCE for short. Cool huh? Well, I like it, so …
Luckily I got a notice that meetup.com was going to send info about my group out to 73 members of the “community” on Sunday, the day after I finalized the name, and ordered some sweet networking cards (e.g., business cards for use at networking events to promote NOTiCE, this blog, and… oh, they have my Twitter handle too.
So here I am. The company hosting the site for my group supposedly sent info to some number of people, I posted my first official tweet about it (and already got some MI and NY love!), and I am plotting and scheming about how to get the word out, and make people interested in joining the group.
Based on my readership thus far, most of you reading this right now are in some far off land (like Sweden, New Zealand, Romania, or Canada), or nowhere near Ohio. BUT, if you happen to be one of the few who are near Cleveland, and you have an interest in meeting other testers here and discussing testing with them, please take a look at my meetup page. Let me know what topic ideas you have, let me know if you have interest in helping me run this crazy thing, or just let me know you would want to show up to >0 meetings.
From here I will be attempting to gather support (or least get people to know the thing exists), probably tweeting the heck out of the page and my new #NOTiCE hashtag (I know, I know it’s not really new since hashtags are case-insensitive when searched, but it looks cool), and I still have the MMTMD session on 03/23/13 where I’m talking about starting a meetup and/or running Zendo with Phil, Matt, Pete, Hilary and others.
I plan one or two more posts in this series, at a minimum. One to cover the today -> hosting a meeting part, and one to sum up all of my recommendations for anyone else wanting to start their own group.
I want to thank everyone who has offered me guidance, advice, information and ideas thus far. I know I haven’t named you all, and short of mining Twitter for the past few months, I won’t be able to, but please know that I appreciated whatever it was you gave me.
Hey! I am now the proud organizer of a group with 2, count ’em 2 members! Yeah, one is still me, and I work with the guy who just joined, but nonetheless, I am not the only one here!