Making smalltown IRL meetups successful. December 29, 2012 3:01 PM   Subscribe

In your experience, what makes for a small IRL meetup successful?

I'd like to post a meetup for my local area. I know there are a few active Mefites nearby, but they're fairly thin on the ground. The big city IRL meetups I've attended were planned well in advance and had the requisite last-minute drop-outs, late arrivals, etc. I don't want to make anyone feel awkward or obligated to attend, but it'd be unfortunate to end up with 0-1 attendees. Your experiences welcome!
posted by Nomyte to MetaFilter-Related at 3:01 PM (32 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I've been to a bunch of small meet-ups and generally they've been great. They've run the gamut from civilized discussion about esoteric academic subjects to dancing and revelry to drunken sharing of deepest, darkest secrets. In other words, hanging out with MeFites is fun, no matter how many there are.
posted by Kattullus at 3:05 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

But that's because you're Kattullus. You bring the pepper!
posted by Nomyte at 3:08 PM on December 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

you commit a crime together, the shared secret and shame will bind you together on the primal, metaphysical plane until the shame forces one of you to attempt to reveal the terrible truth.

then the ritual killing, and the cycle begins a new.
posted by The Whelk at 3:17 PM on December 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

I've had surprisingly good luck getting people to come out to my little suburb near a big town (not super unlike College Park and DC) for meet-ups. It helps that we have a great little brewpub and, more importantly, that it's close to both public transit and to public parking. Beer and cheese are great lures. It's been great whether there are three people or eight. Beer and Mefites work well do board games, based on a sample size of Philly. And honestly I think the smaller ones are better for easing into the meet-up scene. I am working on overcoming a lifelong habit of being terrified of people, and planning meet-ups has really helped. I always bring a book just in case, but it's never been needed. Oh and bring something noticeable or wear a bright color and post it in the thread-- it's rough to wander around a strange bar looking for a stranger without any visual cues.

This is good because I should really set one up for January! Good luck!
posted by jetlagaddict at 3:30 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think it can be helpful to confirm via e-mail or MeMail with someone(s) you think might like to attend a meetup before posting. Then when the meetup is posted, there will already be a few people set to attend.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:34 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

1/2 cup brandy

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/3 cup frozen lemonade concentrate

1/3 cup orange juice

1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine

1/2 cup triple sec

1 lemon, sliced into rounds

1 orange, sliced into rounds

1 lime, sliced into rounds

1/4 cup white sugar (optional)

8 maraschino cherries

2 cups carbonated water(optional)

Mix indgredients in pitcher. Consume at beginning of meetup. Serves 1.
posted by lalochezia at 3:50 PM on December 29, 2012 [14 favorites]

too sweet, add half a cup of ginger liquor for balance.
posted by The Whelk at 4:04 PM on December 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would actually love to do a Waffle House meetup here in Fayetteville if anyone were game but I figured either before or after we'd need a coffeehouse or something for longer socialization. I am not technically averse to a bar but the only one I would have felt comfortable in changed hands and is no longer the cute little neighborhood Irish pub with awesome french fries.

Anyway let me get through my son's wedding (In two weeks! In Texas! ) and I might be asking if there is actually any interest in this.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:32 PM on December 29, 2012

As a former Marylander, let me just say that if you can make something fun happen in College Park you're a freaking hero.

Not to put on airs, though: Madison, WI has 200K people, including lots of MeFites, but the last couple of planned meetups have fallen through due to lack of attendance.
posted by escabeche at 5:50 PM on December 29, 2012

I've found that contacting a few people I might know a little bit personally and try to plan the meetup WITH them is often a good idea. Or having some sort of event that you know people are going to be going to anyhow "Hey let's meet up at the ______ event" can be helpful. Usually just being the person with a plan/idea is the way to start, but it can be tough in places where there are not too many people and a lot of them aren't necessarily meetup types. If you have other friends in the area, having a get together that is a larger group but inviting MeFites to come along is also a decent plan.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:38 PM on December 29, 2012

If you have other friends in the area, having a get together that is a larger group but inviting MeFites to come along is also a decent plan.

Very much this. Also when I go to smaller meetups in less meetup-heavy locales, I try to bring someone who would have fun at such a thing. Worst case scenario, no one shows up and you hang out with them.
posted by griphus at 10:37 PM on December 29, 2012

For whatever reason a lot of the people who show up to IRL things aren't necessarily people who post a lot on the site, so even if the nearby MeFites aren't super active that doesn't mean people won't come to your meetup...drop them a line and see if they'd be up for it! In my experience, even if you don't know the specific MeFite you're emailing, people still tend to be pretty receptive to you at least reaching out.
posted by Phire at 3:39 AM on December 30, 2012

a Waffle House meetup ... in Fayetteville

Ironic meetups will become a thing in 2013, I predict.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:30 AM on December 30, 2012

I've been to (and set up) some smaller meetups, with people who have gotten together before, and with people who haven't met previously. It might take a short while to break the ice, but unless there are conflicting personalities, don't stress it. Remember, these are people who want to meet strangers, or they wouldn't come out in the first place.

A tip on forming said meetups: send individual messages to people in your area, as not everyone notices the IRL signal.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:23 AM on December 30, 2012

Try to avoid scheduling them on a day when there will be record snowfall, though.
posted by jeather at 7:33 AM on December 30, 2012

I've been to small and large meetups, and, so far, I have found MeFites to be a consistently interesting group, so large attendance is not necessarily a requirement. As with any semi-random assortment, they may not all be people I'd hang out with a lot, but meeting for a drink or 2 is bound to be a good use of time. Pick a location where people can stay for a while with no hassle, and not too noisy. Good beer and wine helps. Make a sign; I believe the default is "Friends of Matt Haughey". Make name tags if people haven't met before. Emailing people with reminders is not a bad idea.
posted by theora55 at 8:59 AM on December 30, 2012

1.) Small meetups can be awesome. Perhaps the most epic meetup I've been to was just eight of us in New Orleans, but it was exactly the right crowd and mood to make it unforgettably fun.

2.) College Park is practically DC. The only reason I can picture people deciding to pass on account of location is if they literally don't know how they'll make it out there/back. I'd suggest encouraging people to arrange carpools (and designated drivers, if applicable) in the thread.

3.) Congrats on your son's wedding, St. Alia! Enjoy Texas.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:10 AM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lizbunny made MeFi flags for a Calgary meet up which was awesome. MeMails to people before the IRL posting helps raise awareness and likely buy-in.
posted by arcticseal at 10:47 AM on December 30, 2012

Oh you mean I wasn't supposed to show up with the suitcase and make the MeFite drag it up 3 floors?
posted by infini at 12:19 PM on December 30, 2012

Navelgazer: I've been to meetups in both DC and Baltimore, but I've never seen any of my nearby Mefites at any of them. Granted, that probably means that they just aren't interested. I'm thinking about a College Park meetup because my schedule rarely allows me to go to happy-hour meetups in the city (such as the upcoming one in January).

On the other hand, I just got back from a trip to visit family in upstate NY. I had posted a meetup proposal weeks in advance, but it got next to no interest and I had it taken down. That was disappointing.
posted by Nomyte at 1:27 PM on December 30, 2012

Korean barbecue.
posted by Splunge at 4:14 PM on December 30, 2012

I've been to, I dunno, 3 or 4 smallish meetups now, so I'm not super experienced, but I'd echo the "don't worry about it being awkward if you only get a few" thing. People are generally cool.

I admit I probably wouldn't know quite what to do if I didn't have a drink in my hand, but that might just be a broader comment on my life.
posted by brennen at 2:29 PM on December 31, 2012

Oh, Korean BBQ. Nomyte - how about a meetup at Honey Pig?
posted by youcancallmeal at 3:31 PM on December 31, 2012

While I submit to the readership that Ellicott City is nowhere near Prince George's County, I am sufficiently intrigued by the possibility of Korean BBQ to move forward. I wonder what the Mefite community is like in Howard and Baltimore counties. Shall I officially "propose"? I'm thinking second half of January.
posted by Nomyte at 3:45 PM on December 31, 2012

That would work for me. My thought was that it's inconvenient for everyone and known as a destination thing, so maybe we'll get a good group together rather than just the few who live nearby. (See: DC meetups)
posted by youcancallmeal at 3:48 PM on December 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Proposal posted. Take that, apathy!
(Yeah, it's a little intimidating how many DC Mefites already know each other from elsewhere.)
posted by Nomyte at 4:14 PM on December 31, 2012

There's nothing ironic about Waffle House. That shit is delicious.
posted by Miko at 5:26 PM on December 31, 2012 [7 favorites]

1. Someone (jessypie or me) takes it on themselves to propose and/or organize.
2. Whips crowd into a slavering frenzy over cafe / waffles / donuts / chinese food
3. 3/4 of RSVPs show up, some extras drop in, and enjoy meeting over coffee / waffles / donuts / chinese food

The key then is to start with jessypie or me and proceed from there.
posted by zippy at 4:41 PM on January 1, 2013

There's nothing ironic about Waffle House. That shit is delicious.

I went to one for the first time in Georgia a few months ago, and if they had them in NYC, I'd be a damn fixture. Even the greasy-spooniest place can't offer 4 people an edible meal for under $20.
posted by griphus at 4:47 PM on January 1, 2013

(Although it is perhaps for the best that they do not have them here for the above reasons.)
posted by griphus at 4:47 PM on January 1, 2013

You greasy-spoony bard!
posted by Nomyte at 5:36 PM on January 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Zippy's experience parallels mine with Austin meetups, which I have not arranged any of lately due to personal circumstances. Now I shall ponder a new one.
posted by immlass at 7:41 PM on January 1, 2013

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