Lots of the tips we post here for organising tech events are about making people feel welcome and able to contribute to your meetup. Little things can make a big difference in setting the right atmosphere. For instance, if you are meeting in a pub have several big printed signs on the table. No-one likes going up to strangers and asking them if they are this geeky meetup – several big signs needed.
But here’s maybe the ultimate in things you can do to encourage people – just explicitly do something for new people and clearly say so.
Rachel Willmer of Luzme suggested something we’ve now tried twice at Techmeetup Edinburgh, which is to have a pre-meetup meetup in the pub and explicitly say it’s for people who haven’t been to Techmeetup before. We did this once in December and got a crowd of about 15-20, half of which were new. One of them also noticed the event was looking for speakers to show fun 5-min hacks and volunteered to speak at her first Techmeetup! We did this again last night, and got about 10 new people.
In doing this, we very clearly said that this was for welcoming new people. Here’s the announcement for the first one and for the second. We also explicitly reached out beyond our normal advertising channels, tweeting to other groups who may be interested. Because this was a special event rather than a monthly occurrence, we could do this.
Your mileage may vary; Techmeetup Edinburgh is now over 100 people and so a pre-meetup of 10 or 20 people is great for easing people in. If you are a small meetup, maybe this isn’t the best way. But do think about what you are doing to welcome people in, and make sure you are doing something.