Learn, Share and HUG – Leaders of the biggest HubSpot User Groups on LinkedIn talk about benefits of joining their communities

Among many other branded communities that are available, HubSpot User Groups are a true phenomenon. While this type of communities started over a hundred years ago, their boom was in the 1980s and 1990s. A new era came with the Internet, but still, most of the communities failed. They were used mainly as customer support groups or marketing campaigns and sales tools. As a result, they lacked soul, and they lacked people.

That is where the HubSpot User Groups (aka HUGs) came in. They are a shining example of a B2B community that actually works. This gives solid grounds to assume that it is, in part, because they were started not by HubSpot. HUGs started organically, by HubSpot customers. It was them that wanted to talk about their experiences, marketing and HubSpot itself. They began to meet other HubSpot customers in their area in informal places like pubs to talk it all over some drinks. It was after some time that HubSpot noticed their potential and started to support them.

Now it offers to help to promote the HUGs through a variety of ways, including monthly email digest and their HUG resource page. HubSpot also provides a certain budget, occasional HubSpot speakers, and presentation resources to help with meet-up production.

HubSpot User Groups are now an initiative that grew into over 100 HUGs in the world, with the majority in the U.S. They differ in size, from just a few members to around 1000. They are spread all over the world, like in Twin Cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul), Boston, London, Washington D.C., New York, Sydney, Paris, Toronto, and many others. You can check which group is closest to you on the map here:

Hint: find your local HUG here and sign up for notifications here.

HUGs serve as one of the resources offered by HubSpot. They can use them to learn more about inbound marketing, sales, and HubSpot software best practices. The membership in HUG is free and anyone can join them, no matter if they are actually HubSpot users or not. The members can participate in meetups where they share their success stories, partake in discussions, and network with each other. This allows them to build HubSpot communities in their local area.

In the majority, HUGs are organized by marketing agencies. One of the very few exceptions is the HUG located in Boston, MA. This is how its leader, Tony Paille, VP of Marketing, AIIM International, explains the origins of its creation: Many of the HubSpot User Groups are run by marketing agencies. The Boston group is one of the few that is run by HubSpot users. HubSpot User Groups I became the leader of the Boston HUG after attending Inbound, HubSpot’s annual conference, I met so many amazing people and learned a lot from them. I wanted that feeling to extend past the event. I have tried to build the group to be what I wanted and needed as a HubSpot user and marketer. I don’t always have the answers, but now I have a network of hundreds of people I can ask questions of.

One of the requirements for creating HUGs is to have at least quarterly meetups that are free of charge to all attendees and that focus only on HUG activities. However, there is a number of HUGs that meet even more often. Chicago HUG meets once per quarter with a couple smaller, elite meetups in between. Joe Hafner, Sr. Consultant, Ocho Consulting, the leader of HUG in Seattle, WA, wants its members to have an opportunity to meet even more frequently: “This year, with additional support from the team at HubSpot, we are planning to hold an event each month.

In the case of Twin Cities HUG, as it is a group created by joining two separate ones, Kristin Dennewill, its co-leader, also confirms such frequency: “We organize at least one HUG meeting each quarter in the Twin Cities, and they alternate between Minneapolis and St. Paul.” The number of attendees varies with each HUG. In the top 15 groups in the numbers, there are from around 30 people at the meetups to circa 150.

Joining your local HUG brings an opportunity to participate in HUG meetups and other events. They allow to meet with other people in the sector that share the same interests. They provide the time and space for the activities that are the main focus of the groups.

Michael Carroll, the leader of NYC HUG, describes meetups as places that “allow marketing and sales professionals, inbound marketers, and anyone interested in marketing technology to share expertise, collaborate on ideas, and gain the necessary knowledge to advance their digital skills.

How does it feel like to participate in such event?

Hubspot User Group - September London 2017

In their experience from their first time participating in HUG event in Buffalo, the authors of the blog protocol 80, Inc. summarize it all: “A combination of like-minded individuals and an open bar is always a recipe for success in our book.” protocol 80, Inc. agency just started their own HUG in Rochester, NY and they are excited to meet some new HubSpot users!

The attendees of London HUG meetup also share their experience: “It was great. For a few hours I was in here you got to learn how everyone engages through HubSpot differently, what uses they find through it. It was also nice to see the people behind HubSpot, how they engage, what they are looking for in their clients as well.” “It was great. There was a nice mix of content, they covered the range of sales and marketing. That was really useful.” Clwyd Probert, shares the testimonials from their meetups on his YT channel. You should definitely check them out here and here!

Some HUGs also like to provide their members with some other form of activities. Stephanie Casstevens, the leader of the Chicago HUG, talks about some other formats they introduced there. “We also try to switch up the format of our meetups to keep things interesting which is why our next meetup is a live website review with a panel of experts.

There are many benefits of HUGs and HUG events, but the main three are definitely learning, discussions and networking opportunities. Check below for more information on them!

 

1. ENJOY LEARNING SESSIONS AND WORKSHOPS

The learning opportunities are one of the biggest benefits of HUGs and also one of the main reasons for their existence. That is why, on occasion, HubSpot sends their speakers to the meetups. The resources library offers materials to cover a whole range of different marketing and sales related topics. Among others, HubSpot User Groupsthere are the HubSpot CRM, creating a content offer, blog topic ideas, enhancing social publishing materials, lead nurturing and successful workflows, creating data-driven buyer personas that work, inbound marketing best practices or even a presentation on how to smash through a creative block.

This is how Joe Hafner from the Seattle HUG describes it: “our members most appreciate the deep-dives and workshops to learn specific parts of the HubSpot platform, such as landing page best practices, conversion rate optimization, optimizing sequences, and advanced workflows.

Stephanie Casstevens from the Chicago HUG sees learning in HUG in the following way: we cover anything in the inbound business world. From sales and marketing alignment to specifically using the HubSpot tool, we cover a variety of topics. The best way to stay up to date is to subscribe and get updates on our upcoming meetups. In 2018 we have meetups planned with content for customer success, marketing, sales, development, personal branding, and business growth.

2. ENTER DISCUSSIONS ON INTERESTING TOPICS

Learning opportunities in HUGs many times are tightly connected to additional discussions for the members. Topics vary between different HUGs and events, but there is always an interesting material as a basis for stimulating discussion.

One of the discussion topics are HubSpot’s third-party integrations. Thanks to the popularity of HubSpot, dozens of sales and marketing tools integrate with it. There are, among others, Zapier, ZenDesk, Salesforce, Unbounce, Woopra, Survicate, etc. HUG members have the opportunity to share their opinions on them.

This is how Joe Hafner from the HUG in Seattle remembers one of the discussions on a HUG meetup: At our January event, one of our table topics lead to a discussion about integrations. One member was trying to improve the conversion rate for the forms on her website, and another member mentioned a specific third-party integration that had improved every aspect of the form experience for his site visitors, including a significant uplift in conversions. It was an “a-ha!” moment for everyone at the table, and represents the kind of knowledge sharing that takes place at our events.

Michael Carroll from NYC HUG lists some of the topics of their meetup discussions: “The topics vary from quarter to quarter but topics in the past have been — New features in HubSpot, The State of Inbound, re-engagement campaigns, marketing automation and strategy with thought leaders

3. NETWORK WITH LIKE-MINDED PROFESSIONALS

Networking isn’t just beneficial in developing a career or enhancing your professional life. It can also play a positive role in your life as a whole. It increases your confidence, helps to build relationships, expands your industry knowledge, and also – it’s fun!

The HUGs leaders often list networking as the main benefit and reason to start a HUG. It is very useful, especially if the special HubSpot speakers are in attendance. It is confirmed by Stephanie Casstevens from Chicago HUG: The benefits of joining any HubSpot User Group is that you get to connect with other HubSpot users or prospects and inbound professionals in your local area, you often get to hear presentation directly from guest HubSpot speakers, and it’s fun.

The leader of NYC HUG, Michael Carroll, considers networking as one of the biggest drivers in increasing the number of the meetup attendees: “Networking and knowledge sharing on what works and what doesn’t work seem to be a big driver for new members.”

Tony Paille, Boston HUG leader, directly lists networking as the biggest advantage of HUGs: the biggest benefit to attending a HUG event is the networking. The Boston HUG has become an amazing community and a great place to meet like-minded people, get your marketing questions answered, and discover new marketing technologies that solve your problems.

Central London HUG leader, Clwyd Probert, adds the possibility of free training and the networking to the benefits of the HUGs: “Benefits include access to free training and ability to network with fellow marketers. Strongest value is the ability to learn from others in the industry about what is working and what is not.

CHECK CAREER OPPORTUNITIES AT HUG EVENTS

Networking in HUGs and HUG meetups and other events seems to naturally foster the possibility of career opportunities. That is why Stephanie Casstevens from Chicago HUG states: “The benefits of joining our group specifically are that we are one of the bigger ones so we do have a lot of people to network with, we allow anyone who is hiring to announce open job opportunities

CONCLUSION

HubSpot offers to its users many opportunities to learn to be more successful in their work. There is HubSpot Marketing Library, HubSpot Academy, or HubSpot Blog. These are the resources provided by the company itself. However, HUGs can help you learn and grow your business even more. They create opportunities to attend special workshops and presentations, discuss interesting technical topics and network with peers and specialists from the HubSpot itself. As proven in many accounts, HUG events are also a great source of fun!

Don’t hesitate any longer! Learn, share and HUG!