Choose your type of event
Meet-up groups tend to fall broadly into one of three categories: activity focused groups, like board gamers or crafters, alcoholic socials and coffee socials. Some sit firmly in one category, and others blur the lines. To decide what sort of meet up to run, first decide what your goal is. Are you looking to create a social space for building friendships and support networks? Or do you want to get a group of already connected people together in a new way? What sort of culture are you looking to foster? Is it a dating group? Do you want to make an explicitly sober space, or a space that centres bi+ men? When you know what you're trying to achieve, a lot of the next questions will answer themselves.
Having a planned activity can be a great way of bringing new people to your group. From knitting groups, to group trips to axe throwing or paintball, the bi+ community has done it all over the years, but it's important to remember that big ideas can get expensive quickly, so think carefully before spending any money.
Aside from the expense, activity focused events interest a more narrow section of the community than you might want to target.
Setting up a meetup group doesn't have to cost a fortune. Local community centres and LGBTQ+ centres can often provide spaces for free or for a modest donation, and similarly coffee shops and cafes are often welcoming to small groups.
Pick your venue
Your venue may well be dictated by the type of meet up you're running. If you're running a long drop in or board gaming session you might find a community centre suits your purposes, for coffee meet ups, you'd probably prefer a chain cafe or local coffee shop.
It's important to consider accessibility when you're looking at venues, and remembering that accessibility isn't just a matter of step-free entrances. You should think about:
How easy the venue is to reach on public transport
How accessible the venue is to people with limited mobility
The noise and acoustics of the venue
The cost of food and drinks
The availability of alcohol
Pick your dates and frequency
What can you commit to? When it comes to frequency of events, you're in charge. Can you commit to two hours once a month? Or can you have a whole afternoon free, but only every other second Saturday.
It's easy to overestimate how frequently you'll want to meet, and underestimate the admin time you'll need. If you plan to have a logo, build an email list or maintain a social media presence, factor in that time to your decision making.
If you're running the group alone, your first consideration is how much time you can give. If you're running it with someone else, do your schedules clash?
Think about the timing of your meetup group, too. If you're running a group for bi+ professionals, a weeknight evening in the city is more suitable than a Saturday afternoon in the suburbs, and you'll know what best suits your prospective attendees.
Most often, meetups are once a month, with some groups running more or less frequently.
Advertise your group
Advertising online is essential; it's where you can reach the largest number of people at the lowest cost. Meetup.com and FaceBook are both common places to advertise, and setting up a page can help you keep track of attendees too. Retweets from large or popular accounts on twitter can be valuable so don't be afraid to ask. Sites like Biscuit that provide listings will also add your event if you ask them too.
Social media advertising means making an image or two that you can share online and as a header on your Facebook page or other social media. Simply using the bi pride flag is perfectly acceptable, but if you want something a bit more personal and you're not photoshop savvy, ask a friend or use Canva.com to create a logo.
Don't spend money on leaflets unless you know you're going to use them, and if you do make leaflets to advertise your group, don't put a specific date on them. Better to have a generic flyer with basic details and a website address, than reprint after every meeting.
Get a starter kit from us
Our box of tools is designed to give you confidence as you are setting out. It contains: information leaflets and postcards that your attendees might find useful, volunteer badges to identify you, name and pronoun stickers for your attendees and of course a few flags in various sizes that you can use to make yourself visible to newcomers.
Keep up the momentum
Starting a meetup.com page, or using social media to build and maintain your group, can also provide a valuable tool for keeping up the momentum you need to keep your group running. By adding social channels you offer your group members to get to know each other
Don't be disheartened
Not every meetup group is successful immediately, so take a book or craft project with you to the first few meetings. Building momentum online and spreading the word will build your group.
Tips from other group runners
Have the next meetup in the diary before you turn up on the day. People like to plan ahead.
Include as much accessibility info as you can on your meetup page
Keep it small but open ended, like an hour where you meet for coffee with the potential to stay longer or move to a different venue unofficially at the end
Be aware of people's intersecting identities
Don't expect anyone to be on time.
Not everyone will come to an event that's obviously bi+. If you want to be accessible to people who aren't out, have a stuffed animal or ornaments that people can identify your group by, rather than using a flag.
Take a friend to your first few meet ups. That way if no one shows up you can still have a nice time
Have a look at what is (or isn't) already happening in your area and reach out to the people in charge