Once you’ve graduated from college and have started to work in the real world, a common question I’ve encountered is ‘how do I meet new people?’ Whether it’s for professional growth, finding new friends, or getting involved with a new hobby, Meetups are a great solution.
If you’re not the most outgoing person, a bar is probably not the place for you; however, in almost every major city there are a plethora of Meetups, professional events, and educational panels happening daily. As someone who has hosted Meetups and conferences for the past five years, there are hundreds of reasons why you should go, but I’ll spare you the rambling and give you the top four. First, though, if you've never even been to a Meetup, then head over to the Meetup site and get yourself started.
Make Professional Connections
If you’ve moved to a new area without a job, networking is an important component of breaking into your local market. This is especially true if you’re interested in working for a startup who may not be advertising jobs on your typical job boards. Even if you’ve lived in the area for a while, it’s easy to find a professional Meetup geared towards your industry. On the flip side, you can also find clients, business partners, and even co-founders just by going to the right event.
Meet New People
Even if you’re happily employed, meeting people around where you live isn’t that easy after college. When I first moved to the Arlington, VA area a few years ago I only knew two people. I quickly joined what was formerly called Social Media Club DC (now converted into Digital District) and met a dozen people at the first event that I still hang out with regularly. The best part was that I was able to meet like-minded, semi-nerdy people who were interested in the digital space, which was the complete opposite demographic from those at my day job. It’s like LinkedIn in real life, but with none of those weird annoying endorsements.
Learn Something New
Living in Northern Virginia, we have an endless stream of Meetups and events focused on continuing education. In particular, the startup and tech scene is huge, but there is also a growing art scene. Whether you’re interested in picking up a second or third language, learning how to code, or embrace your inner foodie, there are often free events all around you.
Netflix and (for Real) Chill
Tinder may not be your thing and not all Meetups are geared towards a professional setting. For example, if I look at the meetups in my area for the next week I can hit a pub to watch the Wizards, play board games, or join trivia night. Even though my nonprofit is generally geared towards professionals, I’ve seen firsthand how relationships, BFFs, and professionals come together around the joint interest of the evening’s topic.
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Image: Digital District