I attended the Hacker News Readers of DC recent Meetup on January 12, 2011. We’re looking for another technical co-founder, so in addition to general mingling, I wanted to talk to developers. Here’s how to be productive at a meetup:
Do impromptu demos
In the course of talking to people, the most common question is, “What are you working on?” So bring a laptop or iPad and don’t hesitate to use it to demo your project if people show interest. I just set mine up on various tables around the bar and showed interested people iSpeedShop.
Even if you have a smartphone app, and could demo it on a phone, using a laptop is good: the glow of the monitor attracts people who just like demos! I wouldn’t recommend treating it like a convention floor, though: don’t just stand there the whole time waiting for people to come see your demo. Go around, meet other people, and ask them what they’re working on.
Have a way to gather contact information
Most people didn’t have business cards with them, so come prepared with an easy way to get their name and email address. You could:
- use Bump app to transfer contact info on iPhone or Android,
- send an email on the spot by typing in their name and address on your smartphone,
- use the MailChimp app if you’re going to sign people up to a mailing list, or
- a low-tech solution like a notebook; but beware of people’s poor handwriting, especially in a dark bar! :-)
Realize it’s hard to hear in a bar
The bar was fairly loud, so it was hard to hear things. So you’ll have to limit your conversations to about four people at once. It’s also not the best place to have in-depth discussions.
Hacker News reader meetups are a good chance to hear what people are working on, though it’s a bit of a tough environment to make real connections in. It’s a good event to have in combination with more structured events like demos, co-founder dating, hack-a-thons, etc. If you go and are looking to recruit co-founders, have a demo and a way to gather contact info ready.