A Lowdown of Manchester Meet Ups

We often hear Manchester described as a hotbed of technical development in the UK. As a proud Mancunian I’m always intrigued to hear from less biased people, who have worked in other UK cities. One thing that I can say for sure, having worked as a developer in Manchester City Centre for a couple of years now, is that there are plenty of free Meet Ups going on around the city that give the developer network in Manchester a great platform to learn and interact. Some host really credible guest speakers, and nearly all are free to attend (you may even get some free drinks or pizza if you’re lucky). They tend to thrive (perhaps unsurprisingly) in the trendily rejuvenated Northern Quarter, in spaces like MadLab, which itself hosts more than its fair share of these events.

Below I’ve given a quick write up to some of my favourites, that I would definitely recommend checking out if they are relevant.

 

Manchester WordPress User Group (MWUG)

Hosted by WordPress co-founder Mike Little, this group meet every month at MadLab. On top of a round up of the latest news and developments in WordPress and a talk or two from specialists in the WordPress field, there’s a WP Clinic where Mike, or other WordPress Developers, can help answer any questions you have, or help solve any issues on your WP Project. The group is really open to newcomers, and it’s really a great place for anyone involved in WordPress to go along to, whether you’re a developer looking to enhance your skills, or someone with their own WordPress site that needs a bit of help or advice to manage.

 

NSManchester

NS Manchester is for anyone with an interest in developing for the iOS platform. Run by some of the guys who work or the BBC’s technical team, based in Salford Quays, this meet up is run in their free time, again from MadLab in the heart of the Northern Quarter. It’s a great way to hear how the BBC run their own digital projects, and to hear from other guest speakers who work in the industry (a previous week had one of the senior software engineers from Sky Bet delivering a speech on continuous delivery). There’s also a traditional trip to a nearby pub afterwards for a more sociable chat and catch up with the organisers, which is a nice touch as well.

 

CodeUp

Originally inspired by Code Club, an extra-curricular course which taught young people how to code, CodeUp is basically the same thing, but for people of all ages! Run on a voluntary basis, Code Up brings together experienced coders with people wanting to learn the trade (at any level) and gives them a space to learn. They run a monthly meet up at Salford University’s centre on Salford Quays, and one in the Northern Quarter at Sevendale House. One of Indiespring’s senior developers now attends on a monthly basis and appreciates that he has a platform to share his knowledge and experience on, so we would definitely recommend heading down to Code Up if you get the chance.

 

Of course there are so many more opportunities to check out in Manchester, (just take a quick look on www.meetup.com to see a pretty comprehensive list). There’s also a regular Manchester meet up for Drupal, Magento, Internet Security, JavaScript, ReactJS, Android developers, Software Testers, UX & Design… and plenty of others.

 

I also thought I’d mention a few tips for people going to these meet ups, that will make them more enjoyable and worthwhile for everybody…

 

Don’t be too ‘pitchy’

I realise that people are going there for all sorts of different reasons, and there’s nothing wrong with going to a meet up looking for a certain type of developer, or to garner interest in your latest venture. But no one goes to something voluntarily to just walk into a sales pitch. Try and build up conversations more naturally, and when the time is right, explain who you are, what you do, and what it is you need help with if you’re sure you’re speaking to the right person to help you out.

 

Thank the speakers

These guy aren’t professional speakers, and this sort of thing probably isn’t really their job. They’re giving up their time to help you and the other attendees so a quick thanks could well be appreciated!

 

Don’t be shy

Don’t worry – plenty of people go to these things alone, and won’t know anyone when they first walk through the doors of each Meet Up for the first time. Say hi to everyone, be prepared to speak to new people (however awkward that may seem) and you genuinely won’t regret it.

 

Whether we’re going to be the next California or not, I certainly think it’s fair to say that there are plenty of positives to being a developer in Manchester right about now, and it is definitely worth taking advantage of such a healthy array of opportunities right in the heart of the city. You’ll not only learn more skills, but meet some new people who work in the industry which, whether they go on to help you’re career or help you with work further down the line, or just become another friendly face, is never a bad thing.