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How to run a Meetup event. Lisa and the New York Italian language Meetup

By Julius Solaris
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Meetup is quickly changing the panorama of events and the way people get together to share their common enthusiasm. I am a fan of Meetups in general and I have subscribed and attended several. I love the formula because it gives back to participants the event management and it is, although run by an organizer, an example of great democracy, co-creation and open approach. In this post I've interview Lisa who shares precious tips on the feeling and management of a Meetup.

Meetup organizers perform a lot of tasks on a volunteer basis. Therefore they are exceptional people who dedicate a lot of time to their passion.

The New York City Italian Language, Food, & Culture Club to date counts on 1,549 members and it has met up 117 times . The NYC Italian Language, Food & Culture Club meets a minimum of once a month to speak Italian and share their love of Italian language, food and culture. Their main focus is to practice speaking the Italian language, and their other goals are to enjoy anything else related to Italy. It's a very friendly and relaxed group and they usually meet in a bar or restaurant. Other events in a given month may include wine tastings, musical events, lectures, food tastings, etc. While you don't need to know Italian to join the group, you are encouraged to have at least a basic level of Italian vocabulary and grammar, or to sign up for lessons, so you can practice your language skills with the other group members.

Lisa has been the organizer of the NYC Italian Language, Food , and Culture Club for over 2 years. Her father was born in Italy and she learned Italian by studying independently, at college, and through her frequent travels to Italy visiting relatives and friends.

She has a passion for languages, art, ballroom dancing and good food and is also a designer of Italian glass beaded jewellery. Lisa's many years producing large fundraising events for such organizations as New York Hospital and the Jewish Guild for the Blind, has made planning Meetup events seem like a "piece of cake."

She is an expert in major gifts and planned giving fundraising, and is currently the Senior Director of Planned Giving at ORT America, a nonprofit organization that provides educational and vocational initiatives to students worldwide to promote dignity and independence and build communities.

Let's see what she told us

1. Three attributes of the successful Meetup organizer

a. A passion for the mission of the group in order to generate creative ideas for events

b. Friendly in order to make members feel welcome

c. Organized in order to keep track of the details for the events and make them cost-efficient (cheap) for members

2. The day of the Meetup event your survival kit includes..

Typically, for a monthly party I like to arrive 15 minutes early, have the nametags ready, a glass of prosecco, an appetizer, and to be sure to keep smiling!

3. Tell us the most critical objective of a Meetup event and what practices do you adopt to achieve it.

I took over this group because I had a passion for Italian language, food and culture and I wanted to be a catalyst for others to spark their interest in the topic. I felt that I could improve the group by making everyone who had the slightest interest in our topic feel welcome and a part of the group immediately when the attend for the first time, and encourage them to pursue their interest, too.

I make sure to give people nametags, I welcome everyone personally when they arrive, and I offer to introduce them to others and do so to be sure they do not feel awkward or like they are the "new kid on the block" I am pleased to hear that many new members feel like they have been a part of the group for months at their first event with us.

4. Describe the perfect venue and equipment of your event.

We do events ranging from wine tastings to museum trips to walking tours. But for the monthly "party" for our group, the perfect venue has a private room for our group so that we know that everyone is there for the same purpose. Ideally, the venue doesn't require a minimum or a pre-paid amount per person, but allows our guest to pay a la carte.

The staff are friendly and helpful and efficient. If they speak Italian - even better! The food and drinks are good and reasonably priced. Even better would be to have the venue offer discounted drinks or free appetizers to make the group happy and build loyalty and encourage new customers from the group. Low music so that we can hear each other conversing in Italian.

5. How does it feel to participate at a Meetup Event. How do you facilitate such atmosphere.

I enjoy participating as an organizer because I feel I have something to contribute an it makes me feel part of a community of like-minded people who share this interest/passion in Italian language, food & culture.

The NYC Italian Language, Food and Culture Meetup welcomes the possibilty of sponsorships for their events - including advertising, or product contributions such as food or beverages for their members. On their website you'll be able to contact Lisa should you be interested in supporting them.

about the author

Julius Solaris
Julius Solaris is the editor of EventManagerBlog.com, he is an international speaker, author and consultant.
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