Hot Topics:

Local Meetup eBay Groups: How to Start One

Advice from the organizer of one of the best-known eBay groups

Editor’s note: This article is the second of a three-part series that discusses meetup groups for eBay sellers and their benefits.

Our first installment in this series about meeting up with eBay groups in person left you with a homework assignment.

As you may remember, Stephanie Inge, founder of the Dallas eBaybes & eMales sellers’ group, offered us some very good reasons why a local meetup with other merchants can be fun, educational and very beneficial for your business.

Her first recommendation to others who may want to get local eBay groups started was to think about what they want their new group to provide. Some may want to gather for educational purposes, resource sharing, lobbying or simply socializing. Once you have your goal in mind, you can take your first steps toward creating a vibrant local meetup group.

Start your eBay group with Meetup

You should have an easier time of it now than Inge had 10 years ago when she started her group. “When I first started, I used Evite,” she recalls. Today’s tools are better. Now Inge does everything through Meetup.com.

Choose keywords or topics you’d like to have your group discuss. If there’s no group in your area, then you can invite people to join a new group through Meetup

“They basically host your group,” she explains. “They take care of all RSVPs and reminders. I can print badges. They also do a really good job with search engine optimization, and that helps to build your group.”

First, Inge recommends you do some research to discover what types of local meetup eBay groups already exist.

“There are people in every city waiting to join a group,” she says. “Choose keywords or topics you’d like to have your group discuss. If there’s no group in your area, then you can invite people to join a new group through Meetup.”

With more than 112,000 groups worldwide, you may find yourself joining an existing group, but since the company added more than 7,000 groups last month, alone, clearly it’s very easy to start one of your own.

You can buy a six-month membership for $72. If you’d like to try it for three months only, the fee is $45, and a month-by-month membership will be billed at $19. Inge pays the $19 monthly fee.

“With that, I can have up to three groups,” she explains. To cover the costs of the group, you may want to charge a small fee to attend meetings. “Many, many people charge $3 or $5 to attend,” Inge adds.

Starting out, you may want to waive any meeting fees as you build your group. Once you have a core number of members, you can always revisit charging a modest fee to cover expenses.

The story behind the name

Of course, every group benefits from a snappy nickname. We asked Inge about her somewhat provocative choice of “eBaybes & eMales.” “We’re like a big family,” she explains. “We hug a lot down here. We’re very demonstrative. You know, the Southern hospitality. We pride ourselves on that a lot.”

Inge has gotten mixed feedback about the name choice.

“Over the years I’ve had people say, ‘Oh, I hate that name. I would never join with that name,'” she tells us. Still, based on local culture and personality, Inge and her more than 400 group members enjoy their clever name.

“Once we started to get recognized by eBay, people started to get used to it and like it,” she says.

Your group name will likely reflect where you live, too, adding to a sense of connectedness among your members.

As you build your group, keep an eye on how functional and effective your locale choice is. You can always try alternates and, if your group really takes off, you most likely will have to stay open to new venues and experiences

Dealing with the logistics

As you’re building your group, it’s important to meet regularly and to stay consistent. Inge recommends meeting at a restaurant.

“We’d meet at the same location, and the same day each month,” Inge recalls. “We meet on Mondays, because typically there’s not a lot going on Monday nights. The restaurant will welcome a group, because they’re not otherwise too busy.”

Inge’s first location was a local Chili’s™. As the group started to expand, members found that particular location was not handicap accessible. “We moved to a second restaurant, and our numbers really started to grow.”

So, as you build your group, keep an eye on how functional and effective your locale choice is. You can always try alternates and, if your group really takes off, you most likely will have to stay open to new venues and experiences.

Finding new members

Of course, sellers who already use Meetup.com will likely find you, once you’ve joined the site and established your group. But if you’d like to be more proactive, you can do some research on eBay to find other sellers in your neck of the woods who may be interested in joining local meetup eBay groups.

Now I delegate some of my jobs, like choosing the speaker. It’s not because I didn’t want to do the work, but because I wanted to empower other members

“When I first started, I’d go onto eBay and use the Advanced Search feature. I’d pick various generic search terms and put my ZIP code in to search within 25 to 50 miles for someone selling antiques,” she says. “When I did these searches, I’d look for someone who had been selling for a while, and someone who is taking this seriously.”

Because eBay limits the number of members you can contact each day to five, Inge was very careful about crafting her message before she contacted prospective members.

“I would identify myself in my document and explain what my intention was,” she says. “As the organizer of the eBay sellers group, I’d offer each person a personal invitation. A lot of new members came to me this way.”

Be ready to adapt as you grow

Of course, every time you gather a group of people together, you begin to find a dynamic to that group that you may not have been able to predict when you first got started. As Inge’s group grew in size, stature and clout, her role as its leader has adapted, too. Although she is still the undisputed founder of the gang, she now has an assistant, who does a lot to help make the group work.

“I can’t tell you what a great job he’s done for me,” she says. She also turns to reliable members for their input.

“Now I delegate some of my jobs, like choosing the speaker,” she explains. “It’s not because I didn’t want to do the work, but because I wanted to empower other members. It gives them a vested interest, and that goes a long way to make a person feel valuable.”

Without a doubt, the best, most effective and transformational platform for change and results is through groups!

Inge retains her leadership role in making sure she remembers each member’s birthday, and she’s careful about how frequently she gets in touch between meetings. “If I’m going to send them email, I try to make it an important message,” she says.

In the beginning, Inge was part organizer, part cheerleader and 100 percent founder of the group. Now she gets to enjoy the camaraderie of a large group of like-minded people who have come to regard each other as a family of sorts. Through it all, she has retained her passion for the group she created.

“I am a true believer in the power of groups, and how lives can be changed through involvement,” she says. “Without a doubt, the best, most effective and transformational platform for change and results is through groups!”

Join us next time when we share with you insights and advice from eBay’s Director of Community for eBay Marketplaces Jeff Terrell. He stands ready to help you as you get your own local meetup eBay groups underway!


newsletter signup

About the author

Brad & Debra Schepp
Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Alibaba.com Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book is How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Brad is also a literary agent for Waterside Productions. For further information, visit the couple's website, bradanddeb.com. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



Newsletter Signup

Subscribe!