I’ve been a member of Meetup.com for years, but it was only last month that I worked up enough courage to actually attend an event. I’d been tooling around on the site one day and found a few groups for web entrepreneurs. I figured I might meet some like-minded people, make a few connections, find more visual designers and developers to farm out work to (I’ve been needing them!).
The first event that I went to was with the NYC Web Design Meetup, and it ended up being a dreadful experience. There were about 25 people crammed into a small conference room in a nondescript office building (the fact that it was in my neighborhood was nice). There wasn’t much of an agenda, and it being near the end of the year, the organization posed the question, “What trends do you predict for the new year?” It basically opened up a giant can of worms, giving every armchair philosopher a chance to ramble on about the impact that social networking sites are having on our society. At one point, this older, haggard guy threw up his arms and said he’d had it with all this “branding” talk. “It’s a bunch of bullshit.” I thought I might cry.
Something good came from it though: I met people. The guy riding up in the elevator with me, Brian Wu, has been an information design consultant for 14 years and is looking for an IA-type to share work with (it was his first Meetup, too). And in the elevator down, in need of a long nap, I met Hans Zaunere, who founded and runs the largest PHP user group in the world. As he puts it, he “spun off a professional services group comprised of the best and the brightest that I met when organizing the user group.” He said that he’s always looking for interaction designers and I told him that I’m always looking for developers, so it was a match.
I doubt I’ll be back to any of this group’s events, but it still served its purpose. Networking pays off, even if you have to separate the wheat from the chaff.
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