Before I started coding I had never heard of a meet up. Unless I was “meeting up” with friends that is. I had heard about networking – but that was something entrepreneurs did.
Even if I did dream of myself in an expensive suit drinking prosecco for brunch.
But no. Once I became a developer I found out meet ups were less prosecco and suits, and more pizza and hoodies. And sometimes beer and wine.
I attended my first meet up a couple of weeks into my apprenticeship. Well, I signed up. I actually didn’t think I was going to go. But I mentioned in to one of the sales people at the training centre and apparently they were going to go, and suddenly I didn’t have a way out.
Never mind that it got to the day and she apologised saying that she couldn’t make it anymore. But in my head I was already trapped- I mean committed.
Yes that’s me. In the far distance. With the only other woman attending the meet up!
Since then I’ve ended up quite enjoying meet ups. Though admittedly that was the only one I attended solo. And I wanted to share some tips for anyone thinking about giving it a try as the world returns back to face-to-face normality.
- Try and persuade a friend to join you. I generally find the free food/drink angle works well. They may also learn something interesting!
- If you’re going by yourself and don’t want to mingle, don’t worry. Most places will have seats set up so feel free to find a spot and settle down. You won’t be the only person by yourself.
- Check the plan for the session. Personally I’m not a fan of the more informal, chatty types of meet ups. I prefer meet ups with a set list of speakers and this is detailed in the meet up description.
- The number of acceptances on the meet up page is a rough estimate. Remember people will drop out closer to the time, so take that into consideration if you don’t want to be at a more intimate meet up.
- Take an accessory if you want to avoid chatting to people. Meet ups are great places to network, but if you’re only there for the speakers then taking an iPad, kindle, book or using your phone is a good decoy.
- In addition to this, most meet ups will include food and/or drink which are also useful for keeping you busy.
- Don’t feel pressured to take part in the lightening talks or the question and answer sessions if you are not comfortable. Sometimes just listening is just as useful.
- Remember you can leave whenever you want. If you think you’ll want to duck out before the end, choose a seat closer to the exit.
- Bonus point: don’t drink too much to hide your nerves. Learn from my mistake when I say that will never turn out well!
I hope everyone gets the opportunity to try meet ups at least once face to face as I have found them to be so interesting and valuable. But if you don’t think you’ll feel comfortable going to one in person, remember there are still so many being hosted online around the world which are free to attend.