Thanks @Darren_Gough - that is most kind.
This is a very exciting thread!
Building a group takes alot of hard work and pure graft. You literally do it one person at a time. My friend Alex Shebar and I started out with the idea in a pub garden, after we were both complaining that we mostly conducted our jobs (Senior Community Managers) in isolation - we needed the camaraderie and companionship because we were lonely, but we also needed ideas, stimulation and brainstorming in order to solve some of our most tricky challenges.
So we asked a few more people in our industry if they’d like to come along to a meeting and rant, and they said yes!
Our 2nd meeting had about 12 people; our 3rd meeting had about 25 and that’s when we knew we were onto something!
Our 4th meeting was a proper growing pain: we had about 35 people RSVP, but only about 7 showed. And so we reluctantly decided to introduce a £5.00 pain in the ass fee, which has worked a treat to keep attendance at a near 100% rate. The problem is spending this money, as I’m a consultant, and the UK Inland Revenue (tax) thinks that this is revenue and wants to tax me on it. I try to spend all the money on nibbles and drinks or a venue, but sometimes it’s simply impossible. And it causes me alot of angst. We are now looking to eliminate this fee (with fingers crossed that attendance doesn’t plummet).
Our 4th meeting we introduced our 3 standard questions:
- Did you enjoy this event? (Essentially useless, but Community Managers are extroverts, so we always get a very LOUD positive reply, which is fun.)
- Would you like to do another one? (Getting buy-in here.)
- Do you have any ideas, topics, or a venue to suggest? (Venues are the hardest thing here in London.)
And we also asked the attendees what format we should have: they voted to go with a speaker so they could get inspired by great stories.
To date, we’ve now had 20+/- meetings and we have a mailing list of 300. We do send out newsletters as well.
We do not have a formal social presence as there already was a #cmLDN group on Facebook and it didn’t seem right to compete with their page. Instead, we post our events on their page, rely on our mailing list and use our #cmgrLDN tag on Twitter to stay in touch.
You need strong leaders, alot of communication, and you need the buy-in of your members to really make it work. That’s why we’ll continue doing the rather useless 3 questions, because every time we do it, it makes people give a committment both out loud to us and to themselves that they want this group to continue. Make sense?
Happy to provide more detail if required. GOOD LUCK!