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In the age of a pandemic, virtual meetups have become an indispensable tool for the developer community

In a galaxy far, far away, there was a planet plagued by a virus. This virus swept across its population, causing entire countries to lock down and whole industries to stop. But in the midst of all this chaos, came the rise of the virtual meetup…

This period of lock-down and quarantine has been longer than many of us ever assumed it would be. We were confident that events scheduled in April would be able to happen in September. However now, four months since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, we have come to realize the extent to which we will most likely need to extend our lock-down and remain in some form of isolation longer than initially anticipated.

Grace - Developing Applications Panel

In response to this growing period of isolation and “work from home” ethos, many meetup groups have moved from face-to-face meetings to virtual events. This move from face-to-face to virtual has not come without its issues though, as JJ depicts in his blog here: Lessons Learned from First Virtual Meetup

But what this transition has enabled for meetup attendees is the chance to reconnect with others in communities they care about. A connection which is especially important given the potentially isolating nature of current pandemic restrictions. It also gives people an opportunity to attend meetups from other countries or cities and to meet individuals from other related meetups that they may never have met otherwise (perhaps due to distance or time restrictions). Also it has enabled meetup organizers to invite speakers from a variety of countries to share their knowledge and experiences with audiences and communities around the globe. An audience that they may never have had the chance to reach or interact with. Virtual meetups have become a truly global opportunity to learn and share experiences, knowledge and skills.

I have been lucky enough that during lock-down, I have been able to participate in and speak at several virtual meetups with audiences worldwide! This has given me a fantastic perspective into so many different communities and to have interesting discussions and conversations around the topics I work in. Just last week, I presented as part of the IBM Code London virtual meetup where I introduced Reactive systems and led the participants through several interactive labs to help them get started with Reactive APIs and frameworks. Although London is fairly close to home for me, I’ve also had the opportunity to reach developers in Bolivia, India, Australia, the USA, Canada, Portugal, and Sweden!

Grace - Developing Applications Panel

If you’ve ever considered presenting at a conference or meetup or have spoken before and would like to extend the reach of your session or material, virtual meetups are the perfect opportunity! You have the ability to interact with audiences that may have not been possible in face to face events. For first-time speakers, presenting on a virtual platform means that you’re presenting in familiar and comfortable surroundings (like your own study or house). And it means you don’t necessarily have to know or see how many people are watching or listening to your talk (which can often be the most overwhelming or nerve-wracking parts of presenting in formats like this). So take this opportunity to apply to speak at your “local” virtual meetup and help your community learn from your experiences.

This pandemic has given all of us an amazing opportunity to partake in meetups you may never have been able to attend before. So do some exploring and try some meetups from other countries, cities, languages, or focus areas! I highly recommend you use this age of virtualized meetings to really extend your network and open up your learning opportunities as a professional developer.

Check out our virtual meetups here: