3 Ways to Foster Learning and Comfort in Your Group #50Meetups

3 Ways to Foster Learning and Comfort in Your Group #50Meetups

Sometimes, when I visit a meetup for our #50Meetups project, I feel a little like a spy. To get a real feel for how the group functions, I have to act as a participant, not a researcher. No, I do not knit, or do origami. But I DO care about why your group members keep coming back. But when Melissa suggested I go to the Meetup for Selling Communication Skills for Entrepreneurs, I had to remember to gather intel while I was focusing on learning so much.

Why? Because marketing for small businesses is my actual career. I had two sets of notes going: one observing how the Meetup group ran and what made it successful, the other for furiously taking down ideas for being a better marketer for Swift Kick.

Selling Communication Skills for Entrepreneurs is run by a sales expert and small business coach named Justin. He is a young professional looking to connect with and teach other entrepreneurs how to be successful. During this particular Meetup, he shared the spotlight with his friend Alex, a social media expert. They took turns teaching us about their area of expertise. I found myself wanting to keep coming to these events because I learned so much in the short hour.

What made me feel so excited about being there?

Attention to everyone in the room

Both Justin and Alex were GREAT at making everyone feel comfortable. We were a small group in a small room, so the intimate setting of strangers had the potential to feel awkward. Most people, like me, came alone, so this awkwardness could have been even worse. Here’s how they made us feel at ease:

– Justin was funny and cracked jokes at the beginning while he set up to break the ice.

– Justin asked what each one of us do for a living so we felt noticed and included.

– Alex was great with remembering little details about each audience member and used those details as examples during her talk. She would subtly look at and gesture to the person she was referring to so they felt visible and connected to her.

“So you could write about 3 reasons you became a model…”

“Even if you’re camera shy…”

– Justin asked both rhetorical and actual questions to get us to engage us in his lecture.

Doing what the host set out to do

Justin explained at the beginning, and also on the event page, that this would be an hour long talk teaching about marketing and selling. We were told ahead of time that we could ask questions after both had done their sessions. We knew exactly what to expect.

Even better, they stuck to it. It started at 6 and ended at 7, just as had been said. This was great because I was able to leave on time and felt like my time commitment was respected.

Since this event was meant to be an educational class, Alex even brought handouts for us to read along with as she spoke. It was very professional and intentional. I felt like I was getting great information the whole time.

A sense of equality and community

Once Justin and Alex were finished speaking, they opened up the room for questions and discussion. By this point, each of us in the room felt comfortable enough to chime in to answer each other’s questions too. We were sharing suggestions, all hoping to help each other out. It didn’t matter if you were in your 40s or in your 20s, we all wanted to learn and teach together.

I had a chance to chat with Justin after we left the room. He said that connections have been made between people who met there, though the purpose was less social and more educational. But given the shared interest in types of projects, I could tell how easy it would be to expand my network with the people there. I overheard a few people saying they were planning to come to the next one, because they wanted to continue learning.

Sabina Colleran

Sabina is the Community Manager at Swift Kick, and loves that her job is dedicated to helping students be as awesome as they were meant to be. She is a graduate of Fordham University (go Rams!) and has fond memories of being an Orientation Leader and on the board of the Filipino club while in college. Her life goal is to be a perpetual ball of sunshine. Find her on twitter @sabinadeelight! To read her personal blogging adventure check out: 14tothefullest.wordpress.com

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