How Communities Help Us Prosper: Insights from the CEO of Meetup

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On August 22, 2023, the CHI Software team held the seventh webinar within the CHI Talks series. This time, we met with David Siegel, CEO of Meetup, to discuss a growing number of people feeling lonely and how communities can change things for the better.

10 Reasons Why Communities Are Important

At the event, David disclosed ten ways communities help improve our lives. Among them are:

10. Preventing loneliness. People now experience the pandemic of loneliness. According to the report, the youngest generation Z feels the loneliest on a regular basis (62% of respondents) compared to, for example, 29% of boomers. Being a part of a community can greatly help any individual with this issue.

9. Promoting leadership. Sometimes, you do not even suspect you can be an influential leader. But welcoming environments can open new perspectives. Thus, David shared a story of a Meetup user, Omar Acosta, who arrived at a new place and was looking for connections. One year later, he became a leader of the local group.

8. Helping find a new job. You never know for sure where you will find your dream job. Your favorite hobby can become a new workplace thanks to the people that support you the most. Sharing your interests with others significantly increases your chances of changing your career path.

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7. Solving mental health issues. Growing social distancing hugely damages everyone, but some are more vulnerable than others. Communities, in this case, become excellent supporters for those who feel hurt by life circumstances.

6. Providing informal education. Not everyone can afford complex formal education, but our fast-paced lives require us to learn continuously and remain flexible. Think about all the people you know and the knowledge they can share. You will be surprised by all the potential opportunities to learn something you need or provide your expertise to others.

5. Growing businesses. Networking at community meetings is a sure way to find team members or business partners that will help you nourish your business. After all, a company will only get far with professional expertise.

4. Finding a life partner. Communities are built based on shared hobbies and interests, which often helps form deep personal connections with others.

3. Traveling & relocation. Communities help you adapt to a new environment or get to know a new country better through the eyes of locals.

2. Holding yourself accountable for your goals. When you share your aspirations with others, there is a big chance to reach the finish line successfully. Some people meet up to work on their personal goals, like writing a university thesis. Such a goal-driven environment leaves no space for procrastination – only for persistent work.

1. Driving friendship. After the pandemic, finding friends is the most searched term on Meetup. The more distant we get from each other, the closer we strive to become.

Find out more details from our webinar recording:

A Q&A Session

There was also a Q&A session at the end of David’s speech. These are some of the questions covered:

What can a business leader do to build a strong community within an organization?

  1. Try to find small niche groups and nourish them, especially if you have a big team.
  2. It’s extremely important to meet in person once a year and build connections offline, regardless of the team’s size and location.
  3. Being as transparent and open as possible to build trust. If people don’t trust each other, it won’t work out. Try to reach out to employees and share your company’s success and challenges, ask what disturbs them, and address emerging issues.

What do you think awaits us in our digitalized world in terms of personal and professional connections? Maybe, there are logical predictions?

People are now figuring out how to be digital-first, and we are making rules for this new way of living. In the past, when the first cars appeared on the roads, people did not have any driving rules, which eventually led to car accidents. It works the same for our digital tools.

Our parents did not have digital gadgets, so we are the generation to make rules and build a unique infrastructure. So people will understand how to create the proper separations between the two worlds in the future.  

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What are your thoughts about the future of offline relationships?

If you prioritize offline life, you absolutely will have rich connections. Offline activities require your effort because the online environment is well-known for being extremely addictive. So make this effort. Find people who share your interests and schedule your offline meeting. 

Did you think about creating the functionality on your website or, perhaps, creating a mobile app to behave like Tinder but only for business partners and/or entrepreneurs, investors, etc.?

First, Meetup tried out this feature when people could swipe events right or left to pick which of them to visit, and it appeared to be highly engaging. The next step was to let users similarly choose friends. This feature is available for Members+ (premium users). Creating the same functionality for people from the business sphere is a great idea but has yet to be considered.

Meetup is an online platform founded in 2002 where people of various interests and backgrounds can organize events and activities online and offline.

David Siegel has been Meetup’s CEO since 2018. He has 25 years of experience as a technology and digital media executive. Before joining Meetup, David was the CEO of Investopedia and President of Seeking Alpha

David is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University, teaching strategic planning and entrepreneurship. He is the author of Decide & Conquer: 44 Decisions That Make or Break All Leaders and hosts the podcast Keep Connected, dedicated to the power of community.

Big thanks to David for his enthusiasm and professionalism. It was indeed an inspiring event. We are also grateful to our audience for joining us this evening. Let us banish loneliness from our hearts now and for good!

About the author
Polina Sukhostavets Content Writer

Polina is a curious writer who strongly believes in the power of quality content. She loves telling stories about trending innovations and making them understandable for the reader. Her favorite subjects include AI, AR, VR, IoT, design, and management.

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