It started as some kind of joke or a dare- a guy I don’t know asked on Quora if there are any meetups for local Quora users. The replay was that it sounded like a good idea but it was never done before. So I thought to myself- why not?
So I started a new meetup group called the Israeli Quora meetup (neatly labeled “IQ”) and set a tentative date for a meetup.
I published the existence of the group and the meeting on social media and Quora itself and waited. Pretty soon people started joining the group and RSVPing to the meetup. Now that it became more tangible I had to actually find a place and set an agenda for the meeting. Finding a location proved more difficult than I first expected. All the places I knew that could host us for free were unavailable. I didn’t want to start collecting money to fund this activity. Through open discussion we’ve reached the conclusion that it would be ok to hold the meeting in some public place, as long as it had ample parking and access to public transportation.
I then came across an unexpected hurdle- I originally set the date to 7.7 to make it memorable, but it turned out my wife had to be abroad that day and I had no one to look after my kids. So I postponed it one week to the 14.7. I booked us a large table at a local beergarden and waited. 18 RSVP, but I was almost certain not everyone would show up. It didn’t bother me much since I knew at least several people were actually going to make it and I would not have to sit at a table set for 18 people all alone.
Long story short- they came, we dined and drank beer, talked and talked and had a great time. We said goodbye some 2.5 hours later and everyone, self-included, were pleased. I took some notes (written and mental ones) during the meeting and I’d like to share these with you here:
1. Quorans (that’s insider jargon for Quora users) like to talk. A lot.
2. Quorans interesting and merry folks. There were people from all over the country (Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other places) aged 18-60 (I think, I never asked but some were fresh from high school and others had gray hair. I dare not guess the ladies’ age…)
3. “If you arrange it, they will come”- People like to meet like-minded people. Period.
No professional agenda is needed, no high profile speaker or hip location… just provide people the platform to meet face to face and they would gladly come.
4. Networking works better face to face (and over beer)- Sure, I’ve been following and corresponding with these people over several months on various platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora and meetup inmail platform) – but 5 minutes sitting next to them were so much more meaningful.
5. People really appreciate others who take initiative- all the participants thanked me and people that I didn’t even think of praise me for arranging this meetup. In reality all it took was 5 minutes to setup the Meetup accounts, some 20-30$ for the account fee, a few emails and phone calls. Nonetheless, people see you as the facilitator and acknowledge you’ve done something they’ve only dreamed or talked about.
And they respect you for it.
So what am I taking from all this? Will I arrange another meetup?
I just extended my subscription to Meetup and moved to unlimited account, which means that more than 50 people can actually join the online group. I will certainly push for another meeting in the fall, and make sure we will be meeting in a more convenient location. And yes- I will delegate most of the work to others. There are at least a dozen of IQ members that know how fun such a meeting can be and will surely help me arrange the next one.
One last note- I’m looking at 2016 as a year in which I experiment and try new things. Arranging this meetup, while not planned or thought of as part of this experience, was a great learning experience for me, and I’m really glad I’ve made the effort to pull it off.
And I know my fellow Quorans are grateful, too.