Posted by: Laura Phillips Garner | February 27, 2010

Real Live Social Networking That Starts With the Web

People with like interests can meet each other in person through

It’s hard to strike up acquaintances and friendships in large metropolitan areas. People come and go, spend hours commuting, and work such crazy hours that it is tough to get to know the neighbors. just might be the answer. It is a Web site that capitalizes on that oldest of forms of social networking: Meeting in person.

A review of showed more than 3,200 Meetup groups within 50 miles of my city and 81 within five miles. There are photography groups, writers groups, new media groups, dining out groups, book clubs, volunteer groups and a myriad of other groups in 15 categories like arts and entertainment, business and career, parenting and family, pets and animals, and sports and recreation. After joining a Meetup group, members create a profile and communicate with each other online to set up a time for the group to meet. Then, they actually go to a meeting in a real place where they discuss what they have in common face to face, learn from each other, work together or have fun. is quite popular with nearly 73,000 Meetup groups worldwide and more than 6.6 million members. Almost 5.5 million Meetups have taken place, and more than 61 million RSVPs to future Meetups are pending. The top 10 Meetup cities are New York, London, Chicago, San Diego, Washington, Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta, San Francisco and Seattle.

The most popular topics for Meetups are business strategy and networking, entrepreneurship, personal growth, women’s social, small business, stay-at-home moms, fitness and dining out. However, groups about cake decorating, storytelling, Monopoly, play dates for toddlers, preschoolers, and investment education are gaining fast.

It looks like people are starting to use social networking on the Web as a way to personally meet people who have common interests. So, what’s the difference between Meetup and Facebook? On Facebook, people look for people they already know and keep in touch with them. On Meetup, people look for people who live near them that they don’t know but might want to know and then go meet them in person.

Eventually, Meetup friends might become Facebook friends, but it’s not likely to happen the other way around.

Just wait until the ads from local businesses start showing up.

–Laura Phillips Garner



  1. Hi,

    This is a great service. When we moved to Charlotte 5 years ago, I joined several of these groups. Most were ones I thought might be helpful from a business point of view, but I also joined one for owners of labrador Retrievers, and one that just went out and sampled different restaurants. I participated heavily in these groups for about 1.5 years, and met a few people that I still have contact with.

    The experience was great, and I would still continue if I had more time. The one caution I would give on the business groups is that they tend to be transitory. There are many, many new business people out there who last but a couple meetings. So, if you find someone you think you want to get to know, act quickly.

    Great choice for a post topic!

    Regards, Mark

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