The average American adult spends 20% of their online time
engaged with others via social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace,
and Twitter. While the sense of community can be great for catching up
on the latest news article, highlights from the big game, and pictures
featuring funny cats in costumes, it may not always fill the need for a
supportive peer group in the way a real life coffee chat can. These six
sites (and a few great user tips) can be a great way to take your online
meetups from the chat room to the living room and are designed to begin
using right away!
Perhaps the most popular of the “meet ups”, this site by the same name is growing at an amazing speed. Simply identify what kind of group you choose to introduce yourself to and do a search by location. Are you into dog walking? Think you might like to take up yarn art? Need to network with like-minded business types to get a great idea off the ground? Meetup has you covered with a simple sign up process and a user-friendly calendars and communication tools. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can start a group in your area (organizers pay a small monthly fee), or set a notification for when one gets rolling.
Pro: It’s a great way to find new events in your area that are outside your initial interest genre.
Con: Limited offerings in rural and remote areas. The $12 a month fee may not be reasonable for new or small groups.
While not as cliquish as Meetup groups, Facebook can offer a free method of scheduling one-off meetings and happenings via their “Events” function. Events can be sent to just those you choose or can be open to everyone. The nifty RSVP function lets everyone know who may or may not be in attendance. Popular uses for this way of getting together include: birthday parties, high school reunions, new business grand openings, and political rallies. (Use your best Facebook etiquette when sending invites outside your friend list.)
Pro: Everyone (or, at least, almost everyone) uses Facebook, so chances are great that your event news can spread like wildfire with little effort.
Con: You may not want all your friends to know about your event. Did you really need Mom to know you were throwing a wild bachelorette party for your friend from college?