I was recently invited to give a talk on why one would want to organise a meet-up. The talk would take place in the Data Club kick-off meeting of the Grenoble Data Institute. The idea was that being the organiser of the Grenoble Data Science meetup, I could motivate fellow students on joining the organising committee of the club.
Meet-ups are community initiatives that try to bring people with common interests together. They are bigger than initiatives of a single company or university in that they are open: everybody can attend them. They try to bring people together from both academia and industry based on the common interests and passions shared by those people. For my case, it is data science but there are plenty other topics. Also, most of time (luckily) the purpose of those who participate to the meet-ups is to share knowledge and experience not for profit/lead generation/user base construction but for fun. This makes the meet-up sessions relaxed yet constructive at the same time. At the end, one can have a beer with people with similar interests!
Organising a meet-up, as every other personal initiative or project, requires time and effort. I truly believe, however, that the returns of the personal investments are significant! Below, I am elaborating on why I like participating and organizing the Grenoble Data Science meetup.
Networking Organising a meet-up means that one gets in touch with people! Lots of people: Presenters, audience, sponsors, co-organisers, companies… This face-to-face communication is important and rewarding: in several cases one can drink a beer or have dinner with experts in different fields; similarly one can meet people that are motivated to collaborate and contribute in various projects. The fact that meet-ups are much more informal that conferences for example, makes communication easier.
Community service While this may not be the case for everybody who is organising a meet-up, for me the meet-up is a way to help and provide for the community. Active communities require events and things happening; meet-up sessions are in this direction!
Organizational skills Experience with organising smaller or bigger events is always welcome. Part of the responsibilities of organising a meet-up is to welcome and introduce speakers, to manage time and space, to construct a program and even to find sponsors for small buffets. Some of these task may push you out of your comfort zone, which can become rewarding.
Learn! Learning is a never ending process. While everybody have their priorities in work and life, cool things are happening constantly. The diversity of the presentations of a meet-up and the fact that several different people, for various companies and research teams, are joining them makes meet-ups a great space for exchanging ideas, sharing news and learning.
Summarizing my thoughts, I am sure that organizing a meet-up or participating in a session is beneficial. Therefore, if given the opportunity I strongly believe that one should attempt to get involved. And after investing some time in the initiative, you can decide for yourself whether or not it deserves the time!