I’m a big fan of Meetup.com. It’s the Justin Bieber to my inner 12-year-old girl, without the incredibly bad hair. There aren’t too many websites and/or online services I appreciate more. Gmail is one. Facebook is an another. And Fred’s Potato Chip and Plumbing Supply Emporium is still another. Where else can you get Old Bay crab chips and the Waste King Legend 8000TC 1 horsepower disposer in one online shopping cart, besides Amazon? That’s right, nowhere. And the site’s emoticons are second to none. Long live Fred!
Meetup is a worldwide network of local groups organized around a wide variety of topics. The site helps individuals set up these groups, and helps others join them. The groups then get together to discuss their topic of choice, whether it be sewing or shuffleboard or Canadian teen idols. Meetup is an online vehicle for person-to-person meetings, pushing people away from their computers and toward each other. It connects people in a meaningful way, unlike many social networking tools.
I started using the site to connect with other online marketing types about three years ago. I attended various meetups in an official capacity, representing my previous employer. The meetings kept me abreast of all the happenings in the industry and put me in touch with a few of the movers and shakers. I kept at it after the layoff. The people in these groups have ins at good companies and the potential to help me find gainful employment. And they knew things… lots and lots of things. And not just things, but stuff… and whatnot, the grand poobah of all vague descriptive terms. As any two-bit unemployment site that isn’t Jobless and Less will tell you, networking is key to finding a job. My participation led to some interviews and freelance projects. Whereas, online job boards just gave me a raging case of carpal tunnel syndrome.
I still belong to multiple Meetup groups and attend events every so often. Here’s a selection of my favorites…
The SEMPO and WordPress meetups are particularly productive. The SEMPO group, an offshoot of the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization, brings in experts to discuss the fast-moving field of Search Engine Marketing. The group for WordPress, the popular content management system I use for Jobless and Less, covers issues related to the software. Maybe you sense a theme here… a geeky, nerdy, online marketing-focused, career-related theme. And wouldn’t you know it, the settings in my Meetup account follow suit.
I don’t spend much time on the Meetup site each day. Trolling for new groups isn’t terribly helpful or informative. And the limited online social functions aren’t among the site’s strengths. Besides, the site is set to notify me of any new group that fits my location and interests. Far be it from me to do work I don’t have to. Here’s a sampling of the kinds of groups I’ve asked Meetup to ping me about…
Search Engine Optimization
Social Media Marketing
Alas, though the Meetup concept is slick, the execution is often clumsy. I receive five or more notifications for new groups each day. Maybe 20% of these groups are remotely relevant, or even within the parameters I set up. The rest are either ridiculous or hilarious or both. I began saving my favorites a couple months ago to share with the world. The folder now contains 121 emails. Many more were deleted. Here are the best of the worst, as I received them…
Bronx Ladies Who Lunch: This group is a social network for ladies 25 to 35 to get together and create lasting friendships. The point of the group is to support and uplift each other. There will be many events that will make this mission possible. Our outings will center on the Bronx but there will be events city-wide. [Don't be fooled by the lunch that I got, I'm still Normy from the block. So it needs a little work. J-Lo has been too busy crying to return my calls.]
Flexyn: Flexyn stands for Fly, Sexy and Fun. And that’s just what our group is about. Being Fly, Living Sexy enjoying life to the fullest and having Fun. Whether single, dating or married, our get togethers will encourage all to live life to the fullest. Responsible and safe fun is what we’re all about. Networking, parties, events and trips are our focus. We will constantly have something fun planned. Some type of wonderful activity for people to come together and have a blast. [Well, I am fly, sexy and fun. They got that right. And I do enjoy making up words out of other words to describe myself. Unguatam, for example, stands for Unemployed Guy Hates Spam. It's also the name of the tiny banana republic I plan to start when I become the next George Clooney.]
Drum Circle International House: International House is a residential facility in Morningside Heights/Harlem NY for over 700 graduate students from all over the world studying in a very diverse array of fields. The facility has a modern gymnasium where we conduct a drum circle every Friday 8pm-10pm. We have just started the endeavor with two drums and any additional drums/instruments would be great. [Shooting hippies is indeed one of my favorite activities. So maybe Meetup got this one right too.]
Women 24 and Over and Colored Men: I decided to start this group as a result of being involved with an interracial meetup that was, ironically, too exclusive. Realizing that changing the mentality and make up of the group would be too time consuming, and probably even unrealistic, I’ve started my own group. This network has been designed for women who are interested in Colored Men. When I say colored, I’m referring to a broad spectrum of individuals from dark-skinned to light-skinned, Black, African, Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern, Indian, bi-racial and multiracial men. We value and would like to develop a network of open minded, respectful, and sociable members who welcome and are interested in interracial dating. [This group managed to include everyone except me. It's so nice to be discriminated against in my own inbox.]
Daddyhunt NYC: Daddyhunt is a community of over 200,ooo hot gay men of all ages. We bring together older men, masculine guys and the guys who love them in a dating and socializing environment that is supportive and attitude-free. We welcome Dads, Older Bros, Bears and hunters of all ages. NYC/Metropolitan members are welcome to attend our premiere Meetup event on December 15th. [And to think I first thought this was a group that got together to play cruel tricks on orphans. Boy was I embarrassed at that first meeting.]
Argentine Tango Beginners: FREE for 4 men only!! We have the women already! [All this time I thought it only took two to tango. Who knew?]
How can a site that touts its personalization, in an age of hyper-social media, be so misguided? I expect this from the the big job sites, which continue to insist that I become a nursing assistant in New Jersey. But I thought Justin, I mean Meetup, knew me better than that. The site just spams the crap out of me, over and over, day after day. It was funny at first… look at all those cute, funny, totally irrelevant emails from that site that doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Now it’s just annoying. So this once-satisfied user is blocking all new groups until Meetup gets its floppy hair out of its eyes and fixes this problem.