Below are tips that chapter leaders can use to increase attendance for their meetings:
- Make sure that the person sending out invitations to upcoming meetings is employed by a large enterprise. Generally speaking, people whom work for large employers tend to have access to a larger distribution list than those who are employed by small software vendors and consulting firms.
- When sending out invitations, use Outlook calendar invites. General email assumes that people will read it in a timely manner and will remember to transcribe it onto their calendar. By using Outlook, this task is done for them.
- Make sure that your upcoming meeting is broadcast through a variety of channels. You should minimally blog it and ideally also post on social networking sites such as LinkedIn as well.
- Post your event to many of the event sites such as Yahoo Events
- Acknowledge the fact that even if people cannot physically attend, they may be able to participate remotely. Consider using free conferencing services such as Free Conference
- Partner with other user groups and agree to cross-market. I share events related to our local Java SIG, .NET SIG, ISSA, SIM and DAMA events. Reciprocity takes you a long way.
- Be somewhat selective in your choice of speakers. If you choose a speaker from a large software firm such as Microsoft, Oracle or HP, their marketing people will actually assist you in marketing your event. They have better distribution lists and more importantly a larger marketing budget to help spread the word.
- Are you familiar with Maslow's hiearchy of needs? Many people are tired and hungry especially after a long day at work. While you cannot cure tiredness, you can at least figure out how to feed them. Pizza is cheap and it is relatively easy to find a sponsor.
- IT people are easily tricked into attending events by simply telling them that chotskies' will be available. Many large software vendors will supply them to you free of charge.
- Make sure the topics you choose are broadly applicable and not just targeted at software developers. Part of making web application security visible requires you to choose speakers that appeal to IT Executives, Enterprise Architects, Business Analysts, Legal and Compliance, etc.
- Take yourself less seriously. Many people are way too stuffy and stressed. People learn better when they are having fun. Make jokes, learn to laugh at yourself and most importantly, we need to help others do the same.