Rules of the Road

I’ve hosted and been the honored and humbled guest at a few tweet/meetups for those coming into my city and when visiting other cities. Everything from small groups for coffee to much larger get togethers.  From everything I’ve seen and done there appear to be a few misconceptions a) on how these things actually happen and b) how much people think of themselves.  So let’s  review a few of the basics.

Organizing a meetup for someone coming into a city can be complex.  Not only do you have to work within the schedule of the person coming in, since it’s about a 50/50 chance they are coming in for business or some other reason which will take up a chunk of their time, but you’ve also got to work around the schedules of the invitees to a certain extent and the natural flow of the city in question (i.e. are Thursdays bad because of a standing network event or because it’s the start of the weekend, do weekends not work because there’s a large commuter population that is tough to get back into the city in question on their days off, etc.).  And so, here are a few of my top considerations when organizing a tweetup of any size or being the guest at one.

As host:

  • Coordinate with the guest on location and have a backup – they may or may not know your city, may have gotten recommendations from others, etc.  You want to make sure the venue is appropriate given the size of the group and the goals. If you want to ensure conversation happens a pub or bar with seating and low-to-mid-level background music will be preferable to a place that blasts whatever game happens to be on at the time.
  • Have a backup location, nearby – venues can pack in a crowd unexpectedly for whatever reason (e.g. large layoffs at a company located in the vicinity, etc.) and may not be able to seat you even if you called in advance.  If the backup location can be within walking distance, all the better.
  • Have a centralized way to communicate with everyone – whether that’s a hashtag that people are checking, a FB event from which you can email the RSVP-ers, or a dedicated system like socializr (my personal favorite), you need a way to contact the people who are coming, relatively quickly, if the fit hits the shan.
  • Ask if you should invite others or the guest has a full enough list of people to invite.

As guest:

  • Let your host do their thing.  Discuss venues but if they’ve started making arrangements/calls leave it to them, don’t take their feet out from under them.
  • The world does not revolve around you.  If you’re coming into a city you’ve got to realize it won’t always work out that you see everyone you want to. I know it’s tough to understand people have lives of their own they need to carry on.  Things like jobs, personal commitments, doctor’s appointments, etc. will get in the way.  If you want to meet with someone you’ve got to make the effort to reach out to them, find out their schedule, pencil or ink something in in advance.  A continual game of “What’re you up to now?” by DM or SMS won’t get you coffee, drinks, lunch or anything but an annoyed friend.
  • If it’s a large gathering – be there when you say you’ll be there, and stay as long as expected of you as a polite guest.
  • Don’t overstay your welcome – don’t drink too much, expect others to hang with you all night (unless that’s the plan), only speak with a single person all night, etc.
  • Allow invitees to bring another person or significant other to come along – you’re taking away from their personal time, given that your own time will be split among many guests your own guests may have people they want to integrate in this crowd.

What experiences have you had when visiting virtual folks in another city?

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