It’s easy to get stuck in a social rut in life, where you only hang out with the same people and spend time in the same social circles every day. After all, you’re busy. Work and family take up most of your time, and the rest of your free time is spent seeing the friends you already have. But there’s never been a better time to expand your social world, in ways that social media and online networking sites can’t really do. Which is where meetup groups come in handy. The company Meetup, officially founded in 2002, has changed the way people network and connect with others. As Entrepreneur reports, according to the company’s CEO and co-founder Scott Heiferman, the site is meant to help people form communities offline, away from computer screens and mobile devices. “This is the people, the people, self-organizing to help each other. And it is the most beautiful thing in the world…Google doesn’t do that. YouTube doesn’t do that. Facebook doesn’t do that. Twitter doesn’t do that.”
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The company is growing and with it, more and more people around the world are building their communities with face-to-face meetups in their local environments and based on their interests. According to Meetup’s website, nearly 26 million members participate in over 242,00 meetup groups in 180 countries around the world. If you aren’t taking advantage of Meetup opportunities in your own backyard, it’s about time you get involved, and here are 10 reasons why a meetup can change your life.
1. You Can Network
If you want to be successful in business you can’t just work with and for the same people and expect the same results. You need to grow your network if you want to grow your connections, your experience and your ability to move up in your career path. And while websites like Linked In can certainly help you make new professional connections, face-to-face interactions will always win the networking world. Meetups are a great chance to earn face time with potential colleagues, employees or leaders who share your passions about your field.
2. You’ll Learn Something New
There are meetup groups for virtually every interest, field and hobby you can imagine. Think of these groups as a chance to learn something new and expand your knowledge about topics you are interested in. You’ll feel like a kid in school on the day of a really cool and fun new lesson. Some meetup groups even have guest speakers and presenters who are experts on that topic, so you’ll really get a lot out of the experience beyond the new connections you’ll form.
3. Social Perks
If you’re looking to meet new people and develop new friendships, meetup groups are a great way to break out of your comfort zone and enter a new social environment. Beyond that, you might even reconnect with old friends in your area who share your interests.
4. Be More Inclusive
Meetups aren’t about cliques or exclusive memberships—they are all about including everyone, most of whom don’t know each other and who you have never met before. So everyone is in the same boat, and attends with an open mind and an inclusive spirit.
5. You’ll Meet Diverse People
According to Entrepreneur, “diversity is part of the identity of Meetup. No single Meetup category–whether it be surfing or sockmaking–makes up more than 10 percent of the total and none of the cities where Meetups are hosted can claim they host more than 10 percent of all Meetups.” Which means there will always be a wide variety of options for meetups in your area, and you’ll meet people who share your interests, but come from a range of backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles.
6. Embrace Your Passions
Always wanted to write a novel? Interested in learning how to cook? Did you always want to learn how to code? Become a graphic designer? Meetups aren’t just a chance to meet new people and socialize; you can participate in groups that are dedicated to a specific skill or interest that you’ve always wanted to learn about, but never had the time or opportunity to embrace.
7. Face-to-Face Contact
In this digital world you can go an entire day with absolutely zero physical contact with another human. Everything is done online, on your phone, by text or email or Snapchat. We shop online, we date online, we text instead of meeting for coffee and our conversations are often punctuated by emojis. It’s time to remember the importance of actually talking to other people and spending time together, face-to-face.
8. Love Maybe?
Hey, you never know, your future husband might be sitting next to you in your next Meetup event.
9. You’ll be Inspired
It’s hard not to be inspired when you are surrounded by interesting conversation among people who share your passions and are equally focused on learning and branching out in their lives. You’ll leave feeling refreshed, motivated, and excited to learn and do more.
10. Distance from Digital
Put down the phone. Stop snapping your day, and log-off Facebook messenger for just a few hours. This is your chance to actually connect with people and give your mobile devices a break. Take advantage of it, because life moves pretty fast, and sometimes you need to look around, open your eyes, and focus on actually learning from the people, places and things around you.