Last year, I joined a free system called I don’t remember specifically how I heard about it, but they have a way for people with common interests to get together on just about any subject imaginable. I joined because I wanted to meet other people who are interested in learning about search engine optimization (SEO) and internet marketing.

I attended a couple meetings at a local restaurant’s bar, and got to meet some nice people. But it was a little frustrating because the bar was noisy and crowded. Not a great place to have in depth conversations about the nuances of META tags.

Earlier this year, I got an e-mail from that the group was adrift without a leader, and they needed someone to step up. After speaking to a friend of mine, Steve Scott, who runs a Tampa, Florida meetup and SEO Search Engine Academy, I decided to take over the group and rearrange things a bit.

The East Bay SEO and Internet Marketing meetup has about 200 members, but I honestly had no idea where they came from, what their interests are, or really anything about them, since I’d only met a handful of people at the local bar. I sent out a Survey Monkey and got some good feedback from. It seems that folks are pretty evenly split between two areas: the Tri-Valley area (Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, and surrounding area), and further north in the Walnut Creek, Orinda, Concord area.

After doing some digging, I found two restaurants that had what I needed: free wireless access and a back room that wasn’t too expensive. Now we rotate the meetings every other month between Pleasanton at The Hopyard, and Walnut Creek at the Pyramid Alehouse in an attempt to accommodate both groups of people.

After doing some thinking, I reformatted the meetings a bit to give everyone a little of something:

  • A quiet place to network and exchange business cards (and eat a little food if desired)
  • A place where people can ask questions about SEO or internet marketing
  • Have a little mini-SEO lesson of some sort

I wanted it to be completely open to anyone who wants to join. We have food available if they want it at a nominal fee, but really I just want people to come and learn and network.

Today, we have our fourth meeting, the second one in Walnut Creek. Each meeting has had about a dozen people in attendance, and it’s been fun meeting everyone. I’m hoping that the group will continue to grow and evolve as it gets more wind in its sails, but for now, it’s a great group of people. Everyone pitches in with ideas and suggestions for those who are newer in the group and wanting to learn.

If you’re interested in meeting others who have an interest in SEO, search engine marketing (SEM) and Internet marketing, please join us on the first Monday of each month (generally) from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. sharp. The full meetup calendar is available, and you can register at no cost.