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Should you build a presence online before going to a meetup?

Recorded – watch the full episode on YouTube.

How can you get the word out to folks if you haven't got much of an online presence to start with?

Paola Mata: There's a co-working space that I go to in the area. I would maybe share it with them and ask them to distribute it through their network. So just anyone I know, and it doesn't have to be someone who's specifically an iOS engineer. It can be someone who lives in this area and maybe knows a good amount of people. Someone who has connections. Find those people, have them share it for you.

“Just a description of the meetup and what we wanted to do appealed to people.”

Just spread the word to everyone you know and maybe they might have ideas for somebody who might find it beneficial. As far as like online presence, besides my Twitter, I have my website. I'm not all over the place, I think. Maybe I am now with all the events that I've been to. But starting out, I certainly wasn't and surprisingly, people just showed up. Just a description of the meetup and what we wanted to do appealed to people. Yeah, that's what I can think of.

Paul Hudson: And you obviously run the meetups. Do you still have time to speak at meetups or do other things, or is your time mostly down to meet up admin? Like literally running the thing over. Because one of the things I was surprised by when I run my own conference was I didn't get to see many talks. I was busy thinking, “Is the food ready? Is the wifi working correctly? Are the drinks in the fridge?” Whatever it is.

I'm doing everything that is not actually sitting down and enjoying talks. Do you get to still do some hands-on meetup stuff where you're thinking about actual day-to-day organizing most of the time?

“When you're the organizer, people just seem to flock to you, looking to you for answers and they want to know who you are. So you're an authority on this group. So you get a lot more people approaching you, which as an introvert can be a little bit easier surprisingly.”

Paola Mata: So I do still speak at some events. I'm actually speaking at one next week for Latinas in Tech. I'm going to be on a panel talking about working as a remote engineer. So I do still have time. I make time for it. I find it's important to me.

Like you said, it's not required. But as far as organizing, I think anytime you're a host, you're a little bit more concerned with making sure everyone's comfortable and making sure the drinks don't run out and stuff like that. I think what's really great and something I've mentioned in the past is that as an organizer, usually when you attend an event it's on you to approach other people.

But when you're the organizer, people just seem to flock to you, looking to you for answers and they want to know who you are. So you're an authority on this group. So you get a lot more people approaching you, which as an introvert can be a little bit easier surprisingly.

Paul Hudson: I think certainly when folks do it to me, I actually encourage it. I say to folks, “come and talk to me at conferences. Come and talk to you at meetups. I want to talk to you. I want to see your code. I want to see what's cool for you. I want to see you get too excited about Swift right now.”

But also as the organizer or as someone who... Well, my face is in videos. Folks come across my face sometimes. I'm basically a known friend they can talk to. If they didn’t come with a friend and they're by themselves, they might say “oh, that's Paul. I've seen Paul’s video, I've read his books, or whatever. I want to go say hi to Paul. We've talked on Twitter or Slack or the forums, or we've talked before. I'll go and chat to Paul.”

“As an organizer, in your case, you are a known quantity, ‘oh, that's Paola. She organized this thing. She made this thing happen. She's awesome. I'm going to talk to her.’ And they can immediately feel part of the group. It's basically a safe person to speak to."

And it's brilliant because if I can make them feel comfortable, if I can make them feel welcome. Even if they don't want to show off code, we can just chat about where they're from. I don't really mind. It's just nice.

It's nice to hang out and talk to folks and it makes the whole place feel a bit safer, I think. As an organizer, in your case, you are a known quantity, “oh, that's Paola. She organized this thing. She made this thing happen. She's awesome. I'm going to talk to her." And they can immediately feel part of the group. It's basically a safe person to speak to.

Paola Mata: Absolutely. We definitely have new people at every meetup we organize who will just come and talk to myself or one of the other organizers. And just ask questions about the group and the events where we are, the space where we are and the company and what we know.

I'm always happy to talk to people and just say hello and know where they are in their journey. So I think it's great. I love the experience of it.

This transcript was recorded as part of Swiftly Speaking. You can watch the full original episode on YouTube, or subscribe to the audio version on Apple Podcasts.

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