Start—or Benefit from—a Trader Club

03/24/2011 8:52 am EST

Focus: STRATEGIES

Learn how a misguided group of ten traders quickly evolved into a force numbering in the hundreds, and how the sharing of ideas and information made each of them better traders.

By Amy Kahn

Are you a home-office trader whose trader friends are limited to those usernames in online trading rooms? Are you lonely trading on your own? Would you benefit from the face-to-face meeting of other real live humanoid traders in your local community? If yes, then read on...

I am a female home-office trader residing in Scottsdale, Arizona, who, seven years ago, was so desperate to mitigate my loneliness that I attended the Phoenix area Investor’s Business Daily users group—known as “IBD Meetup.” I met ten people at a noisy local Mexican restaurant, all of whom had charts in one hand, drinks in the other, mouths filled with tacos, enchiladas, burritos, whatever, and were explaining chart patterns to each other.

This was the fulfillment of my craving for trader friends? This was the productive learning environment and engaging socialization that I had envisioned? Upon expressing my disappointment to those present, I was immediately and unanimously nominated “organizer” of this disorganized, energetic group. Unbeknownst to me then, I would proceed to change the world of trader education and trader networking in this city.

We initially started out as an interactive IBD discussion group. However, it became evident that there was a huge range of trading skill levels and that only a couple of the more sophisticated members would volunteer to lead the discussions. The topics were often repeated and grew stale. The only solution to saving the group would be to invite outside speakers and discuss fresh topics, many of which were unrelated to the IBD strategy. I dropped the IBD sponsorship because I could not limit the content to the IBD parameters. The group then almost immediately morphed its focus from the “recreational long-term investor” to the “active trader.” I renamed the group “The Scottsdale Traders and Investors Meetup”. Google it, and read “About This Group” on the left side of our home page.

Flashback: We moved the venue from the Mexican restaurant to a local hospital’s conference room. (One of the members was a physician and was able to obtain the free space and “borrow” the hospital projector to display our charts!) Within the year, the group grew. We moved to a small hotel conference room, set up in classroom style seating, with Internet connection. To pay for the room, we charged $5 for admission, and were able to eventually buy a projector. When the membership maxed out the room size, we moved to a larger hotel with a decent ballroom.

The Inn at Pima in Scottsdale has been our venue for several years. Our membership is now over 425 and we have 40-70 people attending monthly meetings. The monthly attendance indicated on our Web site does not account for those people who do not RSVP and just walk in. The format of the monthly 7 pm meeting is as follows: a half hour of pre-meeting networking, one-hour speaker presentation, 15 minutes networking, 45 minutes finishing the presentation. Members often stay a half hour to an hour after the meeting ends to talk with each other. The energy level is high! I always acknowledge new members and invite everyone to introduce themselves to the person sitting next to them, in front of them, and behind them. Everyone wears a name tag. There is loyalty in this group and reliability in the number of people that consistently show up. The tremendous payoffs in new face-to-face friendships are immeasurable and extend far beyond the confines of our meeting room.

I strongly encourage anyone with an interest in starting a community traders group to just do it! Get a comfortable venue that is easily accessible to all parts of your city. Our venue is just off a major freeway exit, with no navigation through city traffic. There are many educators available who would relish an opportunity to speak to an active traders group. Arrangements can be made with a local financial radio station so that the speaker can be interviewed on radio on the day of his/her presentation. The speaker then has the added benefit of bigger exposure, and the community is made aware of our group, which translates into more members.

The concepts presented by our speakers have been amazingly enlightening and applicable to any product traded. Regardless of skill level, everyone benefits. I do not pay our speakers, but at the end of the presentation, he/she may promote his/her books, Web sites, and services. Consequently, our speakers have enlisted many new followers/subscribers/clients. We are not a forum for “infomercials” and this premise has been consistently honored by our speakers. This is a win-win model for all.

Start your group on Meetup.com. The keywords that you use to describe your group will attract members who are searching on Meetup.com for this type of group. Our membership has grown predominantly from the Meetup.com Web site and through word of mouth. As an organizer, you need to schedule a speaker, collect the admission fee, and prepare opening remarks at each meeting describing the purpose of the group and the agenda for the evening. Have the members sign disclaimers. Include an opportunity for members to announce upcoming trading events in the city. Display a suggestion box for members’ input. Most importantly, do not accept any compensation or remuneration for or from any speaker. You want to be an honorable and credible organization. Lastly, have fun! The joy of connecting humanoid traders with other humanoid traders and interacting in face-to-face discussions about wins, losses, strategies, platforms, indicators, charting, products, trading psychology, etc. etc. is almost as much fun as, in the words of Traders Expo speaker Mike Bellafiore, making One Good Trade!

By Amy Kahn, organizer, The Scottsdale Traders and Investors Meetup”

Editor’s note: Many traders groups hold meetings at the Traders Expos throughout the year. Find the Traders Expo locations and dates by clicking here

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