by Julia Salem
Apr 30 2014
Lately, we’ve noticed a trend: hiring professionals of all different levels, from executive recruiters to hiring managers, have been attending Meetup groups to source top talent. This is especially true in functions and locations where top talent is more difficult to find, such as the technology and web development fields.
Have you heard of Meetup? Are you already a member of some Meetup groups? If you’re not utilizing Meetup to your full advantage, then you’re missing out on some excellent opportunities to boost your executive job search strategy through networking and public speaking engagements.
Keep Networking with a Busy Schedule
Meetup works well with your executive lifestyle because Meetup groups host events around the world and they post their events well in advance making it easy to fit into your busy schedule. It’s also OK if you’re an on-the-go executive with limited time to commit. Most Meetup groups accept members even if they cannot attend regularly—just let the Meetup organizer know that you only plan to attend events when you’re in the area and how often that will be.
Meetup also solves a major obstacle many executives based in smaller metro areas face, which is the lack of local networking events. These executives usually have to travel long distances to attend a networking event that fits their particular interests. Meetup solves this problem by allowing its users to start and join Meetup groups almost anywhere in the world—no matter the size of the metro area. If there aren’t any groups of interest near your city, you can always start your own—more about that later.
Still don’t believe Meetup is relevant for your executive job search strategy? Read some of Meetup’s latest stats in the image below.
Set Up Your Profile
Getting your profile set up is an important first step to take when joining Meetup. This allows other Meetup members to understand what you’re looking to get out of your networking experience. As you create your executive profile, think about your networking objective. Are you looking to promote your organization? Are you open to making connections for new opportunities? Or are you simply looking to meet new people and have some fun? Either way, you should set up your Meetup profile to convey your intentions, so that group organizers and members will remember your profile when you meet at the Meetup event itself.
Optimize Your Profile
Your Meetup profile will be searchable on search engines, like Google, so it’s important to keep this page as professional as you would your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. It’s also a good idea to utilize this profile as another opportunity to become more visible to executive recruiters by using relevant keywords that relate to your preferred function and sector. Last, but not least, use a professional photo on your Meetup profile. A headshot is preferred if you’re networking for professional reasons, but a photo that shows you and one of your hobbies is also acceptable on this type of social network.
Join Business and Career Groups
After you set up your Meetup profile, you should start to search for groups to join. The groups you join will depend on the locations you’re interested in and your overall networking objective (which you’ve conveyed in your executive profile). If your objective is to mostly network for business or career purposes, you will mostly join groups that focus on the sector and function that relates to your business and career.
Join Community Service and Interest Groups
Even if casual socializing is not your main objective, you could still benefit from joining a few groups that focus on community service or other interests that you have. It is possible to meet useful connections at these groups as well, since many useful connections will likely have some of the same interests and hobbies as you do. For example, if you join a group that meets to play golf, it’s likely that you will meet other executives in your industry, executive recruiters or hiring managers who also have this interest.
Research Before Joining a Group
When deciding whether or not you should join a group, it may be helpful to review the profiles of the organizers and members of the group. You can find these people on LinkedIn or on the web to make sure they’re legit and to decide whether or not you’re interested in meeting them.
It’s also a good idea to do a little research on the group before joining because most groups ask you to fill out a short form before you can be accepted into the group. These help the organizer and group members get to know you better and understand what you’re looking to get out of joining the group. The information you provide in this form should be more specific than the information you’ve listed on your Meetup profile. To be most effective, you need to show how your interests align to the specific interests of the Meetup group you’re joining.
Find Niche Groups
After you finish filling out your profile and start to join groups, Meetup will start recommending additional groups that relate to your interests or are similar to other groups you joined. If you’re not finding the specific type of group you’re looking for through Meetup’s own search feature, it may be helpful to try searching on Google. For example, if you’re looking to find Meetup groups that will help you learn more about becoming a board director, you could try searching “Meetup board of directors training” and narrow or change the search as needed.
Networking at Events
The usual networking rules apply when attending most Meetup events, but some of these may vary depending on the type of Meetup group.
- One item you should always have at any networking event is a set of business cards. If you’re networking to find new executive opportunities, it may be best to create a different set of cards to hand out at career-related events.
- Don’t give out a sales pitch to everyone you meet, but rather use this as an opportunity to build your network and gain new connections. Be prepared with questions and topics to discuss as you will be meeting new people at every Meetup event you attend.
- Follow up with key contacts shortly after the Meetup event. You can do this through the “Good to see you” feature on Meetup. You can also request to connect on LinkedIn or to exchange emails so that you both can keep in touch beyond the Meetup group.
Speaking Engagements at Events
After you’ve attended a Meetup group often enough to get to know the group organizers, you can gain even more visibility by asking to present or be a panelist at an upcoming event. These types of speaking engagements are an excellent opportunity for both self-promotion for your career and promotion of your employer organization. Public speaking experience at events can be invaluable exposure when seeking new opportunities.
Organize Your Own Group
Once you understand how Meetup groups work, one of the best ways to boost your visibility is to organize one of your own Meetup groups. Before committing to start your own group, make sure you have a few extra hours per week available to plan and attend your events. If you don’t have the time to organize a group on your own, you can consider sharing the responsibility amongst a few different organizers (friends, colleagues, etc) and yourself to lighten the load. Creating a new Meetup group could be especially helpful for increasing your network if you live in a smaller metro area that has limited networking events or if you’re starting a more niche Meetup group in a larger metro area. From speaking engagements to executive networking, Meetup is a truly unique opportunity to advance your executive job search strategy.
For more tips on how to boost your job search and networking strategy, Join BlueSteps today to connect with the executive career coaches and resume writers of BlueSteps Executive Career Services.