BIG Milwaukee Tweetup | Getting started with Twitter

This is a reprint of an article I wrote nearly a year and a half ago (4/23/2010) as a review about my experience at my very first tweetup.  I’ve come along way on twitter since then, and that event was a huge part of it.  Thanks Milwaukee for welcoming me. You’ve changed my life. A few of the tweeps mentioned below have faded off, but some have become good friends. I have edited a couple of minor details (twitter handle changes), but for the most part, it’s as I wrote it then. In a follow-up post (or perhaps a series), I’ll write about the journey since.


In short,  tweetups turn your tweeps into your peeps.  Go.

Now for the back-story.

As we have recently begun to use Twitter (@annamayerphoto and @brian_mayer) as an active part of our marketing strategy, I have been seeking out the best methods for taking advantage of this somewhat daunting and unruly beast. We got a great boost with @annamayerphoto being an official tweeter for the Real Simple 10th Anniversary Celebration in Chicago. However, as a service business directed at a local clientele, we really wanted to expand our twitter presence locally. To do that, we would have to find the right people to follow and get as many targeted followers as we could.  I honestly didn’t have a clue on how to get started, but I’ll explain my approach.

First, I spent a day searching Twitter for #Milwaukee and #mke and looking through profiles and tweets to find those with relevant relationships.  I followed some prominent tweeters, but I also looked for users that had a lower number of followers and weren’t following too many themselves. I hoped that our follows, replies, and mentions might be more noticeable.

Second, I used the “nearby tweets” function of the Tweetie iPhone app to find people and businesses who were actually in our immediate area. I found a few to be a great springboard, so I thought I’d show a little love:

@StoneCreekSteve @DeannaInnis @Mserita @bizatty @ShopWFB @brennanMKE @erinulicki

I used this base as a place to look and see who others were following locally.  Through this process, I came upon a tweet promoting the BIG #MilwaukeeTweetup.  Of course, everyone knows that if “BIG” is in the title, it must be big, right?  I thought, “Hey that might be cool,” but really had no idea.  I followed the host @tweetupgirls to track the event action.  There seemed to be an indication that it might be worth the time invested, so I took a gamble and RSVP’d.

BIG #MilwaukeeTweetup: Reviewed by a rookie

I showed up to Swig (@swigmilwaukee) a hip joint in Milwaukee’s Third Ward and found the group easily. I went upstairs and was immediately welcomed by one of the @tweetupgirls Jeanette (@j_sosh) and one of the sponsors @robertjames1 (First Priority Printing in Mequon).   Keep in mind that I was not only a newbie to tweetups, but was also to this type of networking.  I was able to ask Jeanette and Rob about how it worked, proper protocol, etc . . . and they were both very helpful.  It was definitely not an insiders’ club. I was given a name badge that included my name and Twitter handle on a lanyard. I was also given a canvas bag with some info from the sponsors.

While I’m not one to shy away from talking to total strangers, I was very hungry so I made a bee-line to the food.  Swig provided the food as a sponsor of the event and it was fantastic!  I wish I could have eaten more, and I will definitely be back for a meal.  The shrimp in particular was outstanding.  There was a cash bar with cocktails, beer, and wine reasonably priced at $3-6 as well as complimentary soft drinks. However, wanting to keep my hands free, I didn’t take advantage of that until later.

The room was moderately lit, relatively crowded and loud with about 100 attendees.  Conversations were bar-like in their volume.  As I began milling around, I found that attendees were very friendly, open and welcoming.  I tried to tweet @ mentions as I met people in order to continue contact beyond the event. I found that to be a bit of a distraction and began to simply take a photo of the person’s name tag with my phone’s camera. However, my phone battery was running low so I  had to resort to the low tech method of  writing stuff down.  How old school is that?

Over the course of the next few hours, I talked to 15-20 people. They varied from web developers and social media mavens to business owners and broadcast professionals.  It truly was an A-list of Milwaukee’s Twitter presence.  Not only did I feel the evening was worth the time, I think it will be a moment I look back on as an important one in the building of our business network in Milwaukee.

What would I do differently next time?

  • Have business cards with our Twitter handles @annamayerphoto and @brian_mayer on them
  • Make sure my phone was properly charged, duh!
  • Eat something before I came–the food was great but it was a distraction.

Now, I don’t think just any tweetup would bring the same level of success, but based on my experience, I would say that it’s definitely worth your time.  Furthermore, I would strongly recommend that any Milwaukee business who is serious about using Twitter as part of their marketing strategy to attend any tweetup hosted by the @tweetupgirls.  I’ve heard that the next one is on June 3. I’ll be there in my signature grey fedora. Feel free to find me and introduce yourself.

Here’s just a few of my new peeps

@triveraguy: Thanks for introducing me to Mixero.  I love it!
@triveragirl: Great meeting you.  Thanks for newbie help!
@jims1973: Awesome guy. Checkout his c2gps.com
@katiefelten: Katie runs mkelive.com (@mkelive )[EDIT: Katie has moved on from MKELive to be the Community Manager at Hashable.]
@tcmeister: His twit bio rocks.  He’s at Net Solutions Group.
@philgerb: He is an awesome, down to earth twitteroligist.

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