While the “work from home” stereotype of stubble-bearded zombies working in pajamas twenty hours a day doesn’t really apply to us (check that, most of it doesn’t), we at BatchBlue (a virtual company) still have to work extra hard to get the human interaction that most take for granted.
Every month, BatchBlue has some representation at the Providence Geek Dinner meetups. I’ve also recently started going to Web Development Lunch Hour meetups in Providence. And just last week, Michelle & I made the 182-mile round trip to a North Shore Web Geek Meetup in Newburyport, MA.
Why meetups? Let me give you a few reasons.
- It’s good for business. All of our earliest press came directly from folks we hang out with at Providence Geeks. Don’t be a nag. But form relationships with people in the community. People will come, Ray.
- See what else is going on. This, of course, can be huge for those of us who work in our kitchens. But remember that meetups aren’t just for those who work from home. Simply talking to other folks in your industry (or those just outside of it) is a great way to get your own creative juices flowing.
- Get involved. At Geeks, I ran into Sara Streeter, a high school friend (and Johnson & Wales University student). She is organizing an unconference called NewBCamp at a J&W. BatchBlue is getting involved by helping support the event and by presenting.
- Make friends. Isn’t this the most important? Home-based web workers don’t get to have water cooler chatter. You need to get this social interaction elsewhere. Meetups are perfect for this.
I didn’t attend a single meetup while I worked in Boston. The one Boston meetup that Michelle and I attended was what you may expect—huge, loud, and not conducive to having real conversations with people. That’s what I love about places like Providence and now Newburyport. They are the perfect size to have manageable communities.
So, step away from the computer. Meetups might seem like they are frivolous and lack ROI, but when your company doesn’t have a neon sign outside the building (or a building, for that matter), your employees need to be that neon sign.
To find meetups in your area, a good place to start is Yahoo!’s Upcoming.