Originally featured on Forbes.com here
Having interviewed over a thousand business and real estate entrepreneurs on my podcast, one of the most valuable pieces of advice I’ve gotten is how to start an in-person meetup group. From a business development standpoint, the educational benefits, relationships formed and the potential for direct monetization have been instrumental to the growth of both the investors who attend and a business’s growth. In fact, it’s been so successful for my business that I require my clients to start their own in-person meetups within their local market.
In general, the advent of the internet has given us the capability to connect with like-minded strangers more easily than ever before. And while forums, blogs and social media allow you to join any number of virtual communities, other platforms promote the formation of in-person communities. One such outgrowth I take advantage of is meetup websites.
No matter how mainstream or obscure your interests might be, there’s a meetup group for you. Meetup.com, one of the more popular meetup sites, boasts a membership of 32.3 million people participating in over 288,000 meetup groups across 182 countries.
Interested in joining a community of psychic vampires? There’s a group for you. Want to relive a cherished childhood freeze tag experience? Don’t worry. There’s a group for you, too.
Of course, as a real estate entrepreneur, I’m not as interested in meeting vampires or playing freeze tag as I am in leveraging popular internet advancements to scale my business. Since online-generated meetup groups is a relatively new concept, and monetized meetups even more so, many people don’t know how to get started.
And starting a meetup can be nerve-racking — especially if you’re an introvert. This anxiety will be the No. 1 enemy keeping you from actually scheduling your first event. That’s why I advise you avoid spending an inordinate amount of time planning and structuring the perfect meetup event. Instead, simply focus on starting it.
A successful meetup group can be pretty informal. One investor I interviewed, Anson Young, has been hosting a meetup for over three years with very little structure. Once a month, Anson and about 70 other investors meet at a local beer hall. For three hours, they just drink beer and talk real estate. There’s no agenda or scheduled speaker. It’s just good old-fashioned networking, a time for investors to chat, solve any problems they’re facing, team up on real estate projects, and most importantly, learn from each other’s mistakes and successes. Even so, in just three years, Anson’s made six figures directly from partnerships and relationships formed at the meetup. That’s a return of nearly $1,000 per hour spent simply drinking beer and networking.
Starting a meetup group like Anson’s at a local bar is an easy and informal option, but maybe you’re a little more conscientious and orderly, like me. I created a meetup that’s much more structured than Anson’s, which is broken into four parts:
- Presentation: Each meeting begins with a short presentation from an active real estate professional or attendee.
- Share opportunities: Attendees have the opportunity to share deals with the group — maybe they’re trying to sell a deal, find a partner, or have questions on a deal under contract.
- Business updates: Each person provides a 90-second update on the latest in their business.
- Open floor: I allot the remaining time, about an hour, for networking, closing deals, sharing information and forming business partnerships.
Overall, the meeting lasts two hours.
Both Anson and I run our meetup groups on a monthly basis. Our primary objectives are to educate and build relationships — efforts that indirectly result in more deals, more business partnerships and more money in the long run. But if you want an even more direct avenue to financial gains from a meetup, create a rockstar-level meetup like real estate entrepreneur Taylor Peugh, and turn the group into a deal-generating machine.
Taylor hosts a meetup — not once a month, or even once a week — but four times a week. Three of the meetups are dinners and the other is a lunch. About 30 to 40 unique investors attend each meetup, which means Taylor networks with 100 to 150 real estate entrepreneurs every week. The result? Every rental property, wholesale, and the majority of the fix-and-flip projects he negotiates stem directly from someone he met at his meetup. For Taylor, a meetup group isn’t just a space to educate and build relationships; it’s the main source of his investment gains.
Want to replicate Taylor’s success?
Here’s the agenda for his meetups:
- Check-in: At check-in, attendees must answer: “What are you doing right now that will move you forward in the next 30 days?”
- Recognize wins: Each person describes what they accomplished personally, or in their business, that week.
- Needs and wants: Attendees have the opportunity to ask for anything they need. For example, “I need a plumber,” or “Does anyone know a good CPA?”
- Property pitches: This is where Taylor makes his money; anyone who has an active deal can present it to the group to see if anyone has an interest in buying, partnering, or funding it.
- Open floor: The end of the dinner/lunch is an open Q&A session where attendees can ask any questions they want.
Hosting a meetup is one of the best ways to create valuable relationships, learn about real estate from those active in the field, and find deals and create partnerships that generate wealth in other the short and long-term. I’ve provided three meetup examples above, ranging from monthly, informal beer hall gatherings to powerhouse groups that meet four times a week, but in reality, the sky’s the limit. There are an infinite number of ways you can structure your meetup group.
But don’t forget the most important step: Get over your fear or procrastination and host your first event!
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