I started attending a local SEO meetup in Raleigh last year. I love the feel of the group. Lots of talking, sharing and war stories mixed in with people who are just starting up their business online. Ashley Berman Hale is the organizer, and the meetup takes it personality from her easy going, “how may I help you” style.
A couple of weeks ago I decided to give a talk on the social media space and how you can benefit from it. It was the first time Ashley wouldn’t be leading the meetup, and I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull off the same great feeling that Ashley always left us with. How would our group respond to such a different presenter?
Then, I received a fax back from the library that the meeting rooms were unavailable. Uh-oh. I sent out an email to the group explaining the situation and that I would find someplace else.
Then I received an email from Michael Hubbard at MediaTwo who offered up his conference room. That was great. I love when someone from the meetup community steps up like that.
When I arrived the night of the meetup, it was even better. They have a kick-ass office space right in downtown Raleigh. Cool old renovated building, fancy wired up conference room, gigantic video display and even a small kitchen.
I met Michael when I walked up into the office, he had just finished interviewing Beth Lavin who was attending the meetup that night! (Beth has recently moved back from NYC and is looking to do some interactive planning – if anyone reading this is hiring.)
I wasn’t worried about the actual talk. I am a big believer in social media and all of the good things that it can bring about. I spent a couple days pulling together a bunch of stuff and then throwing most of it away until I just had a small handout. I was surprised to see the number of attendees swell to 47 by 5pm that day since we usually get about 25 or so.
By 6:30 almost everyone had shown up, not 47, but probably 35. A bunch of people had brought food. Some people brought homemade stuff, some brought traditional snack foods. Lots of repeat visitors but also a nice new influx of people who were first timers.
I babble on for an hour or so, with lots of side roads where people throw out questions or their own experiences. That’s the part that I love about the meetup, it never feels like a lecture to me, but more like a group discussion.
We wrap up most of the official talking about 8:30pm.
Then the spill over starts, and it was even more awesome than usual. I had a chance to talk with Morgan Siem, who is head tweeter for Raleigh’s Metro Mag, and is newly addicted to Twitter, Richard Horvath from Thee Design, one of Raleigh’s best web design firms, Audra and Matt Murray of AAYP (which I didn’t even know existed, but love the idea of) and the most awesome teriyaki chicken and beef I’ve ever eaten, brought in by Truly Hawaiian.
There was a ton of other people there who I haven’t mentioned, and they we just as varied as ones above. The best part of being part of your local online social media scene is the real life society it introduces you to.