Info for First Time Attendees

Hi, I’m Rob (bok), one of the organisers here.

Attending your first meetup can be a bit daunting. As an introvert, I was mildly terrified at the thought of meeting people I didn’t know, discussing coding with them, and them finding out that I had no idea what I was doing!

Meetups have a large number of benefits for attendees, and they’re not all related to the subject of the group itself. When you do make it to your first event you’ll find that most people there are basically the same as you. We have different levels of experience, different goals, different ways of approaching things, different ways of learning, but we’re all otherwise the same: we’re all learning all the time.

This is especially true when it comes to AWS. I might know a lot about services like EC2 and Lambda, but put me in front of a redshift cluster (is it even still a cluster anymore?) or Sagemaker and I’ll stare blankly for a while at the console before opening up Google. There is no one person who is an expert across the entire stack (despite what full stack developers might want you to believe), so you can be confident that everyone in the room at a meetup is there to learn something.

The connections made at meetups can sometimes be more important than the tech discussed. I’ve made a number of lifelong friends at meetups, and often find work through the groups. You can often have a chance to talk directly to influential people at local companies that might be interested in hiring you in the future; heck, some of our sponsors over the years have been open that their primary goal is to meet good people who might be a fit for their organisations.

Deciding if a meetup is a good fit for you is important. It pays to research the group you are planning to attend and see if they fit with your values and goals. Check if they have a code of conduct and whether they value inclusion and diversity. Reach out to the organisers or other attendees if you have any questions, sometimes a digital introduction is easier.

For the Melbourne AWS User Group specifically, you don’t need to attend meetups to be a part of our community.

If you’re interested in AWS at all please feel free to join us on slack or get involved in other ways. You can take your time and ease into the discussions, and from there look at attending events if you’re interested. All of our organisers are on Slack as well, so you can message us directly if you have any questions, comments or want to know more about the group. We’re always happy to chat with new members in the community.

At your first meetup

If you’ve decided to attend a meetup, welcome! We try to make our events as welcoming as possible, and there are a number of things you can do to make the experience easier:

  • RSVP! We don’t check RSVPs at the door in any way, but its really helpful to organisers if you RSVP before attending. For special events held at the AWS Office as well, RSVPs help cut down on the time you need to spend with security.
  • Introduce yourself digitally first. Introduce yourself on Slack before you attend, and talk to other people who might be attending. IF you don’t want to do this in the #general or #melbourne channels, reach out to one of the organisers, we’ll be happy to look out for you at the events and introduce you to other attendees.
  • Wear a name tag. We provide simple name tags for attendees and ask everyone to wear them because it reduces barriers. Feel free to put your name, or Slack/social media handle on there, whatever you want to be known as. This helps put names to faces as well and makes introductions easier.
  • Stand in open circles. When having conversations with people, don’t stand in closed circles. This is also known as the Pac-Man Rule. Open circles encourage other people to join in your conversations.
  • Meet new people. I’m bad at this one personally, but try walking up to people (especially others who are standing by themselves) and introducing yourself. Then try asking whether their interest in the AWS User Group is for work or for fun. Its a good open question that gives them the opportunity to talk about their work or their interests.

For every event we publish the full agenda (including times) on the event page, so you can be confident you know how the night will run (fingers crossed).

We also have a bunch of tips for attendees on our Attending Meetups page, such as etiquette around questions, etc.

After your first meetup

If you met people you are interested in getting to know better, follow them on Twitter (We are also on Twitter, if you want to follow us as well), LinkedIn, or whatever social platform you prefer.

Many people are also on Slack, and if you haven’t already you should join the conversation.

Hopefully you enjoyed your first meetup and are looking forward to attending more. If for any reason you didn’t enjoy it please feel free to reach out and let us know what we could potentially do differently to make it a more welcoming or enjoyable event for you.

More Information

For more tips about attending your first meetup: