Hot Topics:

Local Meetup eBay Groups: Meet eBay’s Meetup Manager

An interview with Jeff Terrell, director of community

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

If you read the first two articles in this series about meeting up with eBay groups, you know the benefits of creating or actively participating in an eBay sellers group. And you also know how to go about creating such a group using the Meetup.com site.

But did you know there’s a person at eBay whose job it is to work directly with such groups? His name is Jeff Terrell and his title is director of Community for eBay Marketplaces North America. Stephanie Inge, the creator of one of the largest eBay groups for merchants—the Dallas eBaybes & eMales—is a big fan of his.

I give kudos to Jeff. His main role at eBay is the seller experience

“I give kudos to Jeff,” she says. “His main role at eBay is the seller experience.”

In his position for just over two years, Terrell is responsive to the group’s needs. “He sends us things to give out at meetings,” Inge tells us. “At the holidays, he’ll send us things to punch up our holiday sales.”

As any successful eBay seller will attest, having someone to call directly with problems and issues at the company makes life much easier.

We spoke with Terrell recently about how he works with eBay meetup groups.

Building awareness of eBay groups

Schepp: We understand that your responsibilities include working with meetup groups. How exactly do you work with these eBay groups?

We help build awareness for the groups by promoting them at our events … and by referring eBay members who express an interest in learning more about eBay

Terrell: All of the meetup groups started organically, thanks to the efforts of local sellers and enthusiasts, and we want to keep them independent so that they reflect the interests and personality of each group.

For our part, we help build awareness for the groups by promoting them at our events (like at eBay: On Location, where we’ve done postcard promotions to match sellers to clubs at every event for the past two years), and by referring eBay members who express an interest in learning more about eBay to groups that may be in their local areas.

In addition, we have provided resources, such as discussion starters on specific topics, to the group leaders, and have offered eBay staff experts to visit and present at groups. The Bay Area group gets this benefit the most frequently because they’re so close. We’ve even hosted some of their meetups here at our offices.

But in all, we’ve probably had eBay staff make more than a dozen appearances at groups across the country this year. Also, we occasionally are able to provide the group leaders with some eBay promotional merchandise (seller kits, iPad cases, etc.) that they use as door prizes to attract better turnouts.

Finally, since I know most of the leaders of the most active groups personally, I do try to check in with them periodically, just to see what we can do to help their groups be more successful.

Each group is different, but being able to commit to holding a regular meeting (usually monthly) that has a good mix of fun, interactions, support and, of course, great content are great keys to success

Finding the right group

Schepp: Do you have an idea of how many eBay meetup groups there are?

Terrell: I’m in contact with the leaders of about three dozen groups, but it’s tough to gauge an exact number beyond that, as there are many more groups that focus on ecommerce in general, and eBay is an element of their focus. I work with some of them, but it’s not as direct.

There’s a good listing of groups here, but some of these are in Europe and aren’t a focus for my team directly since we’re tasked with North American operations.


Schepp: What advice do you have for people looking to create thriving eBay groups?

Terrell: Selfishly, I hope they’ll contact me, so I can help them get started, and help refer other sellers in their areas who might be interested in joining their eBay group. After that, I recommend that they connect with one of the other leaders of a successful group. I can help make those introductions, too.

These leaders are very generous people who are great about suggesting topics, meeting locations, marketing tactics and more. Each group is different, but being able to commit to holding a regular meeting (usually monthly) that has a good mix of fun, interactions, support and, of course, great content are great keys to success.

Schepp: What advice do you have for people attending these meetings?

Terrell: Come with an open mind, and don’t be afraid to offer your assistance to the leader. If there’s a topic you’d really like to explore, let your leader know or—better yet—offer to lead a discussion (or find an expert who will come to the meeting) on that topic. The meetups are all about sharing experiences and tips, raising questions and sharing answers, and making connections, so you can’t be a wallflower. You need to get actively involved.

The meetup groups become a way to get answers to their questions and to test out ideas, to vent their frustrations to people who know exactly what they’re going through, and to celebrate each other’s successes

Building bonds

Schepp: How do meetup groups, in your experience, compare to social media forums (e.g., Facebook’s ecommerce groups) for eBay sellers?

Terrell: There’s really no substitute for live interactions. The forums and boards are great for getting immediate responses from a wide-ranging group, but the ongoing relationships members build at these meetings are incredibly valuable.

People become friends, they share stories, they offer advice, and they offer support when other members are having challenges. By seeing the same members again and again, you build up a history with them.

They know what you sell, why you sell—for example, income versus hobby—and what challenges you have. Members often develop this shorthand with each other where they can offer suggestions based on their shared experiences. They’ll say things like, “Do you remember that time we heard about that accounting app? That might be a good solution for me.”

And of course, one of the reasons I like to encourage people to try out a meetup group is that there really is no substitute for the feeling you get when you’re part of a supportive group.

Many eBay sellers work independently. They rarely meet their customers. They don’t have a boss to check in on them to see how they’re doing. The meetup groups become a way to get answers to their questions and to test out ideas, to vent their frustrations to people who know exactly what they’re going through, and to celebrate each other’s successes. It’s also a lot of fun.

Thanks to Terrell for his insights. To learn more about how eBay supports these groups, check out http://ebaysell.meetup.com/all/, which has the best listing of groups, according to Terrell.

The biggest eBay groups are in Dallas, Chicago and the Bay Area, but there are great groups all over, including Las Vegas, Central Florida, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Tucson, Denver and more. You can also send an email to engage@ebay.com.


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!