Do you have a checklist to help me create and plan my first meeting?

GitHub has some great developer event guidelines that take you from 30 days to day 0 of your event. To view the entire checklist, visit their Meetup Organizer Timeline.

Where do I start?

First, you'll need to figure out which platform your group will be hosted on. There are a variety to choose from, but most User Group leaders prefer Meetup.com. It’s the quickest way to connect with other User Group leaders and find group members near you. It’s important to remember that the type of platform you select will affect your communication style and ease of setup. Choose what’s best for you. You might also want to consider creating a community on Google+ or Facebook.

How do I choose a leader?

If you’ve signed up and created a group, you’re a leader! However you should consider expanding your leadership group to include other members who can help with meet up responsibilities. One of the most important aspects of a successful user group is an enthusiastic leadership team. The group leaders or organizers should be motivated and resourceful. If you become busy and can no longer host a meeting, your co-organizers (or leadership team) can step in and take over.

What makes a good leader?

Someone who has a strong sense of purpose and is self-motivated usually makes a good user group leader. When searching for co-organizers to join your leadership team, it’s best to find a few co-organizers from a variety of skill sets. A co-organizer with a deep, technical understanding of AWS can help find and create great presentations. An organized, reliable and resourceful person with a complete understanding of the email and forum mechanics on your site is necessary as well. It's also a good idea to have someone who can help successfully promote your events through personal and social channels. For instance if you’re strong in the first area, think about filling your leadership team with members who excel in the other areas.

Where can I find content?

Strong programs and content create successful user groups and attract committed members. With several web services and countless implementations, you’ll have a variety of content from which to choose. To begin, ask your group members for content ideas and proposed speakers. Once you have an idea selected, poll your group to find out whether anyone is an expert in that subject and if they would be willing to speak on it. If you can’t find anyone, ask your group members for suggestions or introductions to possible speakers.

Speakers can include community members with an exciting application or expertise in a certain area, service providers, AWS representatives, or other technology or web service providers. Successful groups schedule speakers in advance and prepare speakers by sharing with them the needs and interests of their group. Be sure to have a backup plan in case of a last-minute speaker cancellation.

AWS Evangelists are always eager to come and speak about newly launched features and other AWS developments. If you are interested in having an AWS Technical Evangelist speak at your upcoming meet up, contact them at evangelists@amazon.com

How do I select a meeting space? / Where should my group meet?

Coordinating your meet ups online is fine, but you still need to secure a physical meeting space for your group. It is the responsibility of the user group leader to research, locate and book a meeting space. Some spaces are free, others require a fee. Contact the owner of a venue before announcing it on your meeting invite to your group.

Find a reliable meeting location that has a permanent projector and an Internet connection. Ask your members if they have a conference room you can use, or try community clubs, local businesses, or restaurants with a separate room. You might also contact local user groups to ask where they meet.

Be organized by scheduling monthly meetings and publishing topics in advance. But most importantly, have fun!

If you’re unsure where to start, take a look at a few of our suggestions below.

•       Co-working spaces, like WeWork or Office Nomands

•       Check with group members who might be able to host the event at their offices

•       See if there public meeting spaces available at your office

•       University/College facilities

•       Public Community venues

How do I build a community?

Members join groups for a variety of reasons; the most common reasons are to gain practical knowledge to implement specific technologies, or to network and grow their businesses. Successful groups communicate their goals, and are transparent about their intent. Build a strong community by establishing trust with your group and communicating regularly. Tools such as Meetup.com have proven to be the most popular for managing/promoting meetings and communicating with your group.

One of the quickest ways to promote your group is to post on your own Twitter, Facebook or Google+ feed. You might find similar enthusiasts amongst your contacts or they may introduce you to others who share the same interests. Quality is just as important as size, so focus on gathering content for your meetup so you can get together on a regular basis.

When should I schedule my first meeting?

 

This depends on what’s best for your group. Before scheduling a meeting, start a thread or poll and ask your group which date/time works best for them. Have a few options available and select the most popular option amongst the group. By scheduling regular meet ups, your group members will be able to plan to attend a meeting in advance. This will help to increase the number of attendees and decrease frustration or confusion.

It's important to send out a reminder before the event and especially if any part of the event has changed. Give your community time to respond to your email and be on hand to answer any questions that may arise. Finally, once your event has concluded, ask for feedback about the event so you can continue to improve on your meet ups.

Once you’re all set and you’ve created your group, found your leadership team and scheduled your first meeting – don’t forget to reach out to the AWS Community team so we can add your group to the official User Group page. Please contact us, we can help promote the event and provide additional guidance. We are excited to see the AWS community grow!