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Okay, so you've got some people interested. Things are rolling! How do you get more people involved, and keep retention high? Some thoughts (some pretty obvious):
  • Personal relationships
    • As the organizer, you're the center of attention, so get used to it! Everyone knows who you are, so you're the hub. Networking and basically making friends is part of your job :) Getting to know your members on a personal level will make them feel like part of the group, and the more people you know, the more sponsorships, speakers, and help you'll be able to get. 
    • Also help your members network with each other. Try icebreakers, polls, socials, etc. If people feel connected to each other, they're more likely to be involved and stick around. 
  • Delegating responsibility 
    • The fastest way to get people invested is to ask them for help. This can be easier said than done, of course, but getting more people involved in organizing the group is important. Not only does it keep you from burning out, but having a strong core group of members will make the group more sustainable. 
    • Asking for help on mailing list and in announcements is fine -- the really great people will step up, but usually you'll need to get to know someone first and ask them personally to really build up your core. 
  • Backchannels
    • Have a healthy backchannel for the group. Encourage discussion and questions on the mailing list, ask for feedback there, etc. This can help keep people more involved, even if they can't attend in person every time. 
Oftentimes, the best bonding experiences happen outside of the meetings. Here are some other ideas:
  • Host a larger event, either 24-hours or over a weekend where people have to work together in order to design and build an application together. Some real-world examples:
    • GTUG Campout hosted by SV-GTUG
    • HackCamp before/after a nearby GDD like the one planned by the Munich GTUG
  • Attend a conference as a group: If there's a conference (Google or otherwise) nearby that's pertinent and several of your members are planning to attend, arrange to go as a group, as several chapters did for Google I/O. Oftentimes, these type of communities start out small and then grow stronger over time.