What I’ve learned from arranging my first Meetup

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.

IQmeetup

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?

You bet.

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.

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Someone tried to Social engineer me on Quora

 

I’ve been phished, spearphished and trolled via Email, facebook, LinkedIn and whatsapp. But even I was surprised to find someone trying to social engineer me on Quora.

 

How do you know you are successful? You draw young, exotic women… this maybe true (and positive) for James Bond, but in the online world, the more people want to be close to you the more suspicious you should be. So one day not so long ago I received this comment to one of my answers on Quora:

 

quora phishing
Yep, Zanita Joy does not sound like a credible name

 

 

Two things caught my eyes- first of all, people don’t usually respond to answers, let alone with a “glad meeting you” header. Second- People on Quora usually use the platform and it’s built in messaging system to communicate. So someone asking you to contact her on email (and a Hotmail account nonetheless!) is highly suspicious. Lastly- people don’t usually take a “romantic” angle on these type of semi-professional platforms (LinkedIn included). So I declined, deleted and reported this.

While I don’t think this is any serious security threat to my safety or privacy, it is an alarming development- it means fraudsters realize there is a new hunting ground for fresh meet, and I’m sure this is not the last we’re seeing of it. The next phase usually evolves to cybercrime, and I can imagine several innocuous looking methods to trick and infect Quora users (I will save these to myself- no one said we need to make the hackers lives easier).

I advise you all to be vigilant and don’t let your guard down even on such trust evoking platform: don’t reveal personal information, don’t connect and interact with people you don’t know and don’t do anything which feels suspicious. If you encounter any suspicious activity- you can always ask the community what people think about it. Worse case- you’ve raised awareness. Best case? You prevent fraud. Good luck!

 

The two alternative social platforms you should be using this moment

If you are reading this by all likelihood you’ve came here from Facebook, Twitter of LinkedIn. You probably dwell there daily, follow the links to sites and blogs such as this, and if you are a “power-user” you even contribute from time to time, posting witty twits, posting thought and images on your Facebook wall or longer opinion pieces on LinkedIn Pulse platform. Or you might even cultivate your own blog on a platform such as WordPress or Blogger. And you might feel this is enough, but I’m here to tell you there are 2 social platforms you simply can’t ignore at the moment, especially if your into marketing.

Medium and Quora
Medium and Quora

Medium

Founded in 2012  by two ex- Twitteroids, Medium is fast becoming THE blogging platform of our time.  As the mission statement on the “about”  page says:” Medium is a new place on the Internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends. It’s designed for little stories that make your day better and manifestos that change the world. It’s used by everyone from professional journalists to amateur cooks. It’s simple, beautiful, collaborative, and it helps you find the right audience for whatever you have to say” (https://medium.com/about/welcome-to-medium-9e53ca408c48)

And the beauty is that it does just that. If you want to read great content- its all there. If you want to simply start writing and publish it to a potentially massive audience- this is the place to do. With the simplest “what you see is what you get” interface, it’s really is all about writing (it’s easy to combine images too, but it’s not a tumbler-like site at all. Words are the essence here.

Why should you care: well, it’s where I’d go for a great read, and I enjoy publishing posts there occasionally. It’s also free of charge, hassle free and visually appealing.

Quora: you could write posts on Quora too, but that’s not the point. The point of Quora is answering every conceivable question in the world. From silly questions to philosophical ones, anyone can post a question and anyone can answer (the site editors remove duplications and maintain the discussion on proper term). You can ask someone to answer a specific question, “pay” them with credits and even accumulate credits for answering others. If you think this is childish (does sound like a dream machine for any curios 4 years old), just know that many famous and smart people visit the site regularly and contribute from their experience and wisdom. People like Ashton Kutcher, Mark Cuban, Werner Vogels, Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreesen and many others. The site has a large Indian population and the Quorans seems to infatuated with entrepreneurs in general and Elon Musk in particular. Still, if you have any question worth asking – this is the place (and you do get great answers from people in the know- you can ask VCs what they are looking for in a startup pitch, or ask people how to improve your SEO, and just about anything else). The think I like the most about Quora is that if used properly, you are genuinely helping others (and receive the recognition you deserve in return).

Why should you care: a great place to get answers for just about everything you ever wanted to know, and one of the only places online you can really help others. It’s also free.

So, to summarize, publishing posts on LinkedIn is nice, but you should really be exploring more sociable alternatives. Note that I’m refraining from using the term “blogging platforms”- both sites are much more of a social meeting place than a mere platform. One word of advise- these sites can be fairly addictive, Quora in particular ( you will check your app in the morning to see how many people have upvoted your recent answer, I guarantee it.