In every town/city there are Tweetups, Meetups, and other great networking and social media events going on. Especially in the winter, when we are stuck inside due to the snow and/or bitter cold, it is great to get out and “meet up” with fellow social media friends (and new friends to be). But how do you discern the “awesome” events from the “not so awesome” ones? There are so many events sometimes, that it’s hard to choose, especially when they’re on the same night. Luckily for both you and me, there are some great ways to keep on top of what’s going on, when it’s going on, and who’s attending (great to know prior to an event) such and such event…
Plancast: Want to know what your friends have “planned” for this upcoming week? Well Plancast is awesome for that — it allows you to see what events your friends are “planning” to attend and the details of those events so you can “plan” to attend as well. You can also add your own plans so your friends can stay on top of what you’re doing and attend with you. Also a great way to promote an event you want a little more awareness for. Another useful part about Plancast is that you can search by category, whether it be big conferences like SXSW or local startup events, etc. Useful, free and simple to use.
Meetup: Great way to keep up with what’s going on in your neighborhood on a regular basis. If you sign up for a specific type of “meetup” – whether it be social media related or wine or sports, you can have alerts sent to your email when people post about upcoming meetups. It’s helpful that you can decide how often you would like these alerts. In addition, you can sign up for however many meetups as you would like and/or set up your own if you don’t see one there that you want. New to the area? This is great for meeting new people and getting involved in your social media community. And what I think is super cool – is that it will show you events that are “trending” in your area (see below). Free to use.
Eventbrite: A kickass tool for finding, sharing, and planning events whether in your neighborhood or nationally. Great to see what your friends are attending, sharing events on Facebook and Twitter (whether you can attend or not) and seeing what’s the hottest event in your local neighborhood. Going on a business trip but need ideas of what to do in the evening? Use Eventbrite to see what’s going on and sign up for events while you’re away too. And if you decide to plan a local event, it has a great interface that’s easy to use, compatible to share on Facebook for a Facebook event invite, and great analytics to see what’s going on behind the scenes with attendees and tickets. p.s. Free.
Foursquare: You’re downtown and can’t decide which event to go to? See where your friends have “checked-in” and which event they decided to attend. A great way to meet up with your friends at events and/or see who’s attending which event. This is also useful for those who do not necessarily like to attend events solo and would love a friend or two to hang out with while mingling and meeting new friends. Free to use!
Facebook and Twitter: You’re most likely already on these two sites, so you don’t even need to sign up. I find that I hear about events I want to attend through my friends on both of these platforms. A friend is usually Tweeting about an event they plan to attend and/or sharing a link on Facebook to the Eventbrite or Plancast event page. Useful for both local events that are happening each week and/or national events such as conferences. You can set up a search on Twitter for specific events too. Example if you want to be kept on top of everything happening around a certain conference, like SXSW, do it up. And/or make a list of your local friends so you can keep tabs on what events they’re attending. One word: Awesome.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there are people in your social community that are Tweeting and Blogging and Sharing events on a regular basis. For example in Boston we have people like Tom O’Keefe (@BostonTweet) who shares everything and anything going on around the city from free ice cream to events. In addition we have Joselin Mane (@bostontweetup) who shares events on his website and Twitter handle regarding conferences, Tweetups, networking events, and more. Great way to keep up with what’s going on in your local community, because these guys make sure you know by making it simple and easy for you. As in Boston, I am sure each city and town has people like Tom and Joselin who share event info for your convenience. How to find them? Twitter is definitely one way.
What about once you’re at an event? Or after? My recommendation (if you’re shy) is to go with a friend so you can move around the room together. Don’t have a friend to go with you? See who’s going from the attendee list. Found a person you’re excited to meet? Most likely their Twitter handle was shared on the registration page, and you can Tweet them to say you’re looking forward to meeting them. Then when you get there, you have someone to talk to right away and can ease into the mingling with others. In addition, don’t forget to follow-up after the event whether via Twitter,Facebook, LinkedIn, email, etc. Building relationships takes work, and the networking events are just one part of this process.