Meeting-up in a Time of Social Distancing

How Meetup groups around the world are adapting to COVID-19.

Staying connected suddenly has a whole new meaning, and in many ways it’s more important than ever. Meetup groups around the world have gotten creative in how they maintain their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read a few of their stories below.

Does your group have an interesting story to tell? Share it with us!

Durham, North Carolina
Nina, organizer of Bull City Beer Runners

What do your events usually look like (in “normal” times)? 
Our “normal” events are group runs. We meet at a bar or brewery, run a prescribed route, and then hang out for a couple beers after. One of our weekly runs even has a beer stop in the middle of the route! We typically get between 10 and 30 people, some dogs, and sometimes folks who join us for beers but no miles beforehand.

How have your events adapted to move online? 
Since running in a group and hanging out a bar are both off the table right now, we’ve had to get creative with ways to connect with our community during this time. We hosted a virtual happy hour using Google Hangouts where everyone was encouraged to go for a run beforehand, grab a beer, and then log in to the happy hour.  We encouraged everyone to get takeout or delivery from the brewery that sponsors us. Since our “normal” events involve supporting local businesses, we don’t want to lose that now that our events are virtual; and it’s extra important now.

We were completely overwhelmed by the number of participants in the virtual happy hour—we even got members who have moved away from Durham and joined us from Brooklyn, Philadelphia, DC, and Chicago! Reconnecting with them was an unexpected bonus.

Nina, organizer of Bull City Beer Runners

How have the online events been going? What have you found particularly interesting about this experience?
So far, so good! We were completely overwhelmed by the number of participants in the virtual happy hour—we even got members who have moved away from Durham and joined us from Brooklyn, Philadelphia, DC, and Chicago! Reconnecting with them was an unexpected bonus. The technology wasn’t the smoothest, but everyone was in good spirits (pun intended) and wants to do it again. There was also talk of virtual karaoke….

Cardiff, U.K.
Lewis, organizer of Cloud Native Wales

What do your events usually look like (in “normal” times)?
We run monthly events in Cardiff, UK focused on cloud computing. We’ve grown to over 600 members and usually have 40-60 people at each event. There are usually 2 speakers: 1 local and 1 person from out of town. After the events we go to the pub to share and discuss ideas and problems together.

How have your events adapted to move online?
The move has been easier than we thought. We’ve wanted to make our sessions available online for a while as our group represents the whole country, not just the city. We can’t control what has happened, so we have to adapt.

The irony that social distancing is keeping us apart but having these events makes it feel like we’re bringing us closer together (in a safe virtual manner). When we can, we’ll be back at the pub to catch up with each other in person, but until then we’ll look forward to that.

Lewis, organizer of Cloud Native Wales

We’re not aiming for perfection and are happy to learn on the fly, the community we’ve built has welcomed us in trying to get this done and support us as we do it. 

How have the online events been going? What have you found particularly interesting about this experience?
The feeling is that people want this to succeed. People have been fighting to work from home for years, and now the opportunity has presented itself and people want to make the most of this. Hopefully we’ll be able to look back and see some positives from us having to adapt. 

Getting people to share their webcams is key just to see the familiar faces we’re used to seeing in person.

The irony that social distancing is keeping us apart but having these events makes it feel like we’re bringing us closer together (in a safe virtual manner). When we can, we’ll be back at the pub to catch up with each other in person, but until then we’ll look forward to that.

Addison, Texas

Addison, Texas
Beverly, organizer of Addison Women’s Social Club

What do your events usually look like (in “normal” times)? 
We attend various activities such as happy hour/dinners, wine tastings, cooking classes, holiday parties, etc.  We typically have anywhere from 12-24 ladies attending an event. Even with new ladies joining us we always have lots to talk about and everyone is very accepting and friendly.    

How have your events adapted to move online?  
We had our first virtual happy hour/dinner together to catch up, discuss how everyone is doing and coping with the current crisis.  Those on the call were really grateful to be able to connect, talk about how they’re feeling and have some girl talk time. Although everyone is somewhat stressed, the overall consensus was that staying positive is the best thing we can do. 

How have the online events been going? What have you found interesting about this experience?
The first online event had fairly low attendance compared to what we normally have IRL probably because of unfamiliarity with video conferencing.  We expect more on the next call, but all on the call agreed it was really helpful. It’s interesting that people want connection even if it’s virtual and understand the need to support each other. 

The Addison Women’s Social Club’s first virtual happy hour

Last modified on March 24, 2020