Why your company needs to get involved with Meetup groups (like ours)

I recently interviewed VC Charlie O’Donnell about the tech world’s Talent Wars. He summarized the situation best here:

“For any company, the most important asset you have is your people. Building a great team is the most important ingredient for success.”

One of ways to improve your odds in the on-going technical recruitment struggle is to sponsor a developer-focused Meetup group. And as the organizer of a Meetup group that attracts a ton o’ developers (and is in need of sponsors every month), I couldn’t agree more… mostly because I’m extremely biased. But I digress. As Charlie said, well-run meetups with devs equals relatively cheap PR for companies and puts them in the thick of the community.

At SF Nightowls, for instance, we’re always looking for sponsors to help us put on our popular late night coworking sessions. (Past sponsors include HP, Zappos IP Inc., Yahoo Developer Network, Codelesson, and many others.) In return for their beer-buying patronage, we give them a chance to talk to the group, hand out schwag, get lot of attention on the site and in reminder emails, etc.

It’s a complete win-win: We get to keep our Meetup group free and open for all to attend, and sponsors get direct access to smart, savvy potential recruits. Like these girls, who had never met before but showed up to Nightowls wearing the same thing. Great minds think alike.

If you’re looking for a specific type of dev, say for Ruby, you should consider sponsoring a Ruby Meetup (btw, check out the SF Ruby on Rails Meetup group if you’re in that boat). But be sure to send someone from your team who is part of that dev community already. As Charlie says:

 “You have to send one of your Ruby developers to the Ruby Meetup. You can’t be the non-technical founder… If you send a business person, no one wants to talk to them at the meetup.”

Another savvy meetup strategy is simply to start your own group.

“If you are a company that manages large amounts of data, then you should be the one running the Big Data Meetup… You should be using it as a platform to reach out to people.”

I’ve been to many, many Meetups/events, and I’ve partnered with a few Meetup groups (big shout out to JS Hackers) and helped put on some hack days. Having sponsors makes an organizer’s life infinitely easier, and we’re always over-the-moon happy to give you promotion and recruitment leads in return. Note: Not by spamming our members, but through actual introductions at the event (“Hey, Mr. Sponsor, please meet this very talented dev I know who happens to be looking for a new job”). We’ve seen a lot of connections made through our events and others’.

Remember: Being a part of the community makes it easier for your company to find the talent you seek. Remaining on the outskirts makes it easier for your competitors to swoop in and out-hire you.

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