I love Meetup.com. I first discovered it when I moved to Paris and was looking to integrate myself into several sporting and social scenes. I found it intuitive and search-friendly and extremely social. Within weeks I was going to Yoga classes, booked into group French lessons and found a running club – all through one site. I’ve even started my own meetup group for footballers of various abilities to meet up on a Saturday afternoon. I’ve called it ‘Have a kickabout’. Without Meetup.com finding these groups in a city like Paris would have been much, much harder.
This got me thinking about the role something like Meetup could have within an organistion. Essentially Meetup builds communities and introduces new people to new groups i.e building connections. Isn’t this the holy grail of what organisations are looking for?
The communities are self-building, enabling official groups to be formed whilst also enabling unofficial groups to form. The official groups would be based around work functions and would be more formal. The most interesting group is the unofficial group formation. This, I imagine, is where the real collaboration and innovation would take place. For example, take a hi-tech company where large numbers of staff work on different projects. An unofficial Meetup-style group is started by some enterprising individual to engage the community in topics such as technology/software/process. If the company did not have an arena to discuss these topics, you could potentially have a group meeting up and innovating within the company through shared interests. Again isn’t that an organisational architect’s dream? The flip side is they could all go and set up a start-up. But for the purpose of my point we’ll focus on the positives.
Rolling out a Meetup style function means finding groups employees are interested in within the organisation is easy, but more importantly, employees would then be able to find who they really need to talk to about something and also HOW to talk to that person.
Handing over a platform like this to an internal audience can only have up sides, especially if making your organisation as social as possible, through different functions and processes, is a strategic goal.