There’s nothing quite like the in-person meetups for fostering and building relationships. There’s just something about hearing someone’s voice, seeing their face, sharing in all those small moments that make up the magic of networking in person.
However, as we know all too well, that isn’t always possible—certainly not when you’re battling a global pandemic. And so, while in-person events have slowed and we’re not able to get out to those large mixers anymore, there’s absolutely no reason we shouldn’t be re-creating the same atmosphere online.
I’m talking about online meetups. I credit both in-person and online networking for launching my career. Online meetups are the best of both worlds—they’re as robust and flexible as any online networking group. Still, they add the in-person element that we so often need to find and keep our motivation, connect with others, and truly bring about lasting change.
So today, that’s what we’re discussing. How to use online meetups to grow your career, build your network, and create inspired action, and even how to launch your own.
Why online meetups?
Simply put, they are the best of both worlds. The flexibility of an online meetup means that you can have people from not just your city but all cities joining in to rally around one common cause or interest. It also means that for those of us who are introverts, or maybe just can’t get out of the house as quickly (lack of transportation, not a ton of time, kids to look after, etc.), they’re a lot more likely to be able to tune in as well.
Unlike a Facebook Group, you have that human to human element of hearing voice, seeing facial features, and experiencing things in real-time. I love Facebook Groups for relationship building, but there is just something about those “in-person” online chats that always leaves me feeling so inspired and so a part of something. And that’s powerful.
How do I find existing ones?
Word of mouth is going to be your friend here. Plenty of previously in person only meetups have gone online, such as one that I’m a part of Balanced Breakfast. Still, there are also occasional popups in different Facebook groups or communities. Check out the places you’re already hanging out online, such as Facebook Groups, or the pages of other organizations, venues, or industry professionals, and see who is hosting their own. Most have hosted at least one or two this year, and many are even doing monthly or weekly meetups.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask around. If you ask 5-10 of your closest music industry friends, I guarantee you that you’ll hear about at least one or two of them. The more involved you get, the more you’ll hear about new ones as they pop up.
How do I start my own?
In my opinion, this is really where the gold is—and it’s not as hard as you might think. It’s also a great way to make sure the time and topics work for you. 😉
But seriously, start with your interests—what do you want to talk about? Some communities will do a weekly or monthly chat that’s very much in a mixer style. Industry and musicians come together once a month or every few months just to get to know each other–that’s an option, especially since Zoom has breakout rooms where people can venture off into smaller conversations.
But there’s also the option of hosting specific topics, for example, once-a-month panel discussions on various industry topics like booking, PR, social media, etc. Side note: this is a great way to cherry-pick the things you want to learn about and then build relationships with industry professionals in that field by coordinating the event and asking them to be on the panel.
You can then host the whole thing via Zoom, advertise in different groups, put a small ad behind it if you want, and just tell all your friends about it and ask them to do the same. You’d be surprised how fast word spreads, especially right now. People are at home and looking for ways to stay busy, keep distracted, and better themselves, and if you can provide that for them with your event, you’re going to get a ton of eyes on it.
Is it worth it?
In short, yes! There’s no downside at all to hosting or joining a virtual event. But the pros are HUGE. First of all, you’re going to get inspired. You just are. It’s easy to get in a slump where you feel unmotivated, lost, confused, unsure how to move forward or what the point even is. Being a part of these events will help you realize that #1 you aren’t alone in that feeling, and #2 there’s a way out of it, and #3 there is inspiration and motivation all around you.
I always feel SO much better after these events because it’s just good to feel less alone, and it’s useful to do what’s worked for other people in terms of getting out of a funk, or landing that placement they wanted, or connecting to that person they wanted to communicate with.
Just being around other go-getters and seeing what’s possible is intoxicating. I can’t emphasize that enough—when we isolate ourselves or just surround ourselves with others who are playing small, or complaining, or not doing the work (and so, not seeing results), it’s effortless to think that’s all that’s out there. We start to believe it’s not possible because all we see is others who are stuck.
But once we start to surround ourselves with people going after their dreams, seeing results, and kicking butt, we begin to see what’s possible, and it completely reframes our thinking. In the simplest terms, we believe what we see, and if we start seeing what’s possible through surrounding ourselves with other high-achievers, we’re going to see more results as well. This is powerful.
The pandemic may be keeping us inside, but the silver lining of having to put the kibosh on in-person events is that it’s opened our eyes to the power of all that we can do from our living rooms—from connecting to collaborating to finding inspiration, there is still so much to explore and get excited about.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify, and more, as well as the THRIVE mentorship community. You can get more info on how to create a profitable Patreon + other ways to make extra money online via her workshop.