This week, I attended my first small group meet-up of Women In Digital. As the name suggests, this group focuses on females in the Digital Marketing Industry. It was a great way to get together with women with similar work situations and discuss and learn from each other. I’ve attended other groups in the Twin Cities, but this one was a great fit, because of how closely niched to what I do it is.
Although I recently broke into the industry, only a little over a year ago, it was nice to sit and chat with ambitious and hard working females, all trying to grow their skill set, and find their path within the industry. Don’t get me wrong, I am very lucky to work with super encouraging guys daily, glad we are all able to work in a collaborative and supportive way, but there is something bonding between ladies getting together and talking about their perspectives that I wouldn’t get in the office.
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Why should you attend a meet up
Even if your office is larger, and made up of a diverse group of people, I still find value in attending industry specific meet ups. This gives you an opportunity to talk about ideas, problems, road bumps, and solutions with people that don’t sit in the same office as and face the same challenges as you. Chances are someone that you’ll connect with has seen a similar problem that you’re facing and can give creative solutions that you haven’t yet thought of. Maybe you have an issue that you don’t feel comfortable talking to your co-workers or boss about, discussing it with people in the same industry as you increases your chances of receiving relevant advice, over discussing the problem with a friend or family member .
Meeting up with industry partners can also allow for an opportunity to learn about new tools, tactics, and strategies. We often get into a rhythm of doing things, and when things are running smoothly there can be less desire to try something new. Talking with others about successes they are having is a great way to discover improvements you can make to your own process- which means better results for your clients!
When attending a meet up, be sure to approach the situation as a way to collaborate with others, and contribute to the overall conversation. Try not dominating the discussion with issues your struggling with, but instead ask for tips and then allow others to share their story. Peer circles are a great place to ask for advice, but also try to be willing to creatively think of a solution for someone else that might be in need too.
Attending your first meetup
Nervous about attending your first meetup? That’s ok! Chances are others are nervous as well, it can feel intimidating to walk into a room where you don’t know anyone. The nice thing is, you already have something in common – the face that you’re choosing to spend time getting to know others in a niche or industry that you care about. From my experience, once people break through the first wall of awkward conversation, time flies and it’s hard to stop chatting!
Attending events and meet ups can be an excellent way to network and gain referrals. However, I like to position this as the secondary benefit. The more people you connect with, and get to know, the broader your network becomes. This isn’t instant, and it can be dangerous to look at these meet ups as a way to get quick business leads, or find a new job immediately. We’ve all been in a situation where we have felt like someone had different intentions, and besides being uncomfortable, it can also decrease your chance for referrals and partnerships in the future. With that being said, don’t be afraid to mention to others if you are looking for a new position, or if you have a type of client you love working with. The more specific you can be about your interests/niches the more likely someone is to think of you when they stumble across something in that category.
Overall, if you look at meet ups as opportunities to provide value, learn more about your industry, and connect some cool people, you’re much more likely to be authentic and genuine with your conversations.
Digital Specific Meet ups
I encourage anyone, in any industry to attend a meet up or peer circle, but I especially think it’s important for people in digital to attend events like this. We tend to spend a majority of our time behind a computer, and although we are likely in constant communication with people over email, phone, skype, throughout the day, we can miss out on genuine human interactions (which is important!)
Since we are part of a small team, I think meeting with others, outside my team is crucial. Taking one night out of your week/month to mix and mingle with other people (sometimes complete strangers) is a great way to recharge and remember why exactly we work in such an awesome industry.
I’m ready to try one!
It can feel overwhelming to find your first meet up or attend your first event! Once you’ve decided you want to partake, it’s time to do your research. Sites such as Meetup and Eventbrite are great ways to find groups across any industry. I just did a little google search for specific meet ups in my area, within digital marketing, and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of options. Don’t be afraid to try out a couple, many of these will have nights that are open to the public, and don’t require immediate membership. Give each one a couple tries, because sometimes the first can feel awkward, primarily because you don’t know anyone, but give it a couple chances, each time has a different tone and dynamic, you just might be surprised!
The last bit of advice I have, is be the person to say hi, welcome in a friend, or ask about someone’s day. These meet ups only give back what you put in, and if you’re open and welcoming to others, chances are you’ll enjoy yourself much more.
Looking for a meet up in your area or industry, and not sure where to start? Want a familiar face to attend your first meeting? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to help!