Meetup groups are a great way to link up with people in your area with similar interests. Whether it’s to meet new friends that you have things in common with, or a professional meetup group that makes it easier to network with others in your industry, meetup groups are popping up in all types of settings. With the recent changes in public events and gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these meetup groups now offer online options or have switched to virtual meetups entirely. Online meetup groups are also a great way to help you in your career if you sign up for the right ones. Let’s dig into how.

Find the Group That Best Matches Your Career Goals

There are a lot of online meetup groups, but if you’re looking for the ones that can best help your career, you shouldn’t waste your time with groups that are too far off from your goals and that can’t provide anything helpful. As Computer World points out, no two groups are created equally, so be selective about the ones you join. Certain groups, for instance, may host specific events that can help you meet the right people or land a job in the field you’re interested in. Others, while primarily based online, may exclusively be for those in specific locations. Some groups may also encourage members to present projects they’ve worked on and share their skills with other members, which can provide an invaluable learning experience.

Join Groups That Encourage Video Conferencing

Online meetup groups are growing in popularity because many people are still uncomfortable with gathering in person, and virtual events are undeniably more convenient because all they require is a device with a solid internet connection. But they can also offer some disadvantages. Without being face-to-face, meetup events can feel a little impersonal. You can avoid this disconnect by focusing on online meetup groups that use video conferencing. These types of groups, which may host events on platforms like Google Hangouts or Zoom, can be a great way to humanize the experience and improve your interactions with the people you’re meeting. This can help you to maximize your online meetup group experience overall, and possibly help you get your foot in the door for your first entry-level job. 

Learn Skills That Help With Any Job

School helps with preparing you for your career and the real world in many ways. It teaches responsibility, how to meet deadlines, the importance of punctuality and meeting your obligations, and other essential principles. In a way, joining online meetup groups teaches these same skills, and can go a step further. When you join an online meetup group, you’ll often commit to showing up for certain online events, preparing for and giving presentations, getting feedback from others and using it as constructive criticism, offering advice to others, and so on. This can all prepare you for your first job, as it gives you an idea of what it will be like to work with others and what it means to be part of a team.

Find Clients or Jobs

As you start off in your new career, you will generally find that you have two options: working for another company, or working on your own as a freelancer and finding clients. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and you’ll want to explore both of these options to decide what path is best for you. Typically, individuals just starting off in a new industry will gain a few years of experience before deciding to freelance, but not always. 

These days, more and more individuals, including new graduates and those who are newly certified, are deciding that working as a freelancer, or even starting their own small business or consulting firm, is the best decision for them. From programming and web design, to data science or project management, just about every tech role these days can also lead to excellent opportunities — freelance or not. 

In the freelance world, inexperienced individuals may need to offer their services for free (or at a low cost) in order to build up their portfolio, but finding clients can be tricky, especially if sales is not your forte. In the corporate world, internships might be the best way to get your foot in the right door.

Whatever path you choose, online meetup groups can be a great way to find clients or company jobs by joining the right groups and networking with the right individuals. Because key decision makers from companies often join these groups, using these groups as a tool for finding clients or jobs can be a great way to start your career.

Consider Hosting Your Own Online Meetup

Can’t find the online meetup group that matches exactly what you’re looking for? Consider creating your own! For example, let’s say you are a recent graduate who is currently enrolled in a specialized online training program and you’ll be earning your certification soon. You want to be a programmer, and once you’re certified, you’re looking for your first entry-level job. You’d prefer to work for a local company, but you’re open to an online opportunity with a company that is based anywhere. You can create an online meetup that will link newly certified programmers looking for entry level positions with experienced programmers, as well as companies with open programmer roles to fill. You can specify that the online meetup is ideally for those in a specific area, but it isn’t restricted to those located elsewhere. This specific type of meetup isn’t just beneficial to others — it helps you in your career, too. Even if it doesn’t help you land your first job directly, networking with more experienced programmers, at the very least, can help you learn more about the industry you’re looking to break into. 

Enroll in Online Training

Not only are meetups primarily held online in times like these, but so are some of the top training programs. If you’re looking to jumpstart your career and aren’t yet sure what you want to focus on, enrolling in a free online training program to establish more clear career goals is the next step. Eventually, earning your certification in more in-depth courses is the best way to stand out amongst the competition and land your first entry-level job in your new career field. Get started today!

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