I’ve gone to over 1,000 Meetup.com events. And that’s being conservative. I’ve been going to them since 2015. However, with conservative estimates: let’s say I only went for 5 years even though it’s been 8, and I went to only two per week when it was likely 4 or more per week, that’s already over 700 meetup events!
I also went to a large breadth of different topics/hobbies, so I got to experience almost all sides of meetup.com, not just a small amount of events.
So, I can write a whole comprehensive blog article or mini e-book on the ins and outs of MeetUp, however, I don’t know if anyone would be interested and it would be worth the time. So, instead, I’ll write some quick tips on some of the major things I’ve learned.
- If you stick to boring common events/activities that you’re comfortable with, you’re going to stay boring/comfortable/common. Be open-minded. Don’t let unfamiliar topics or a low attendance hold you back. Yeah, hiking, salsa, yoga, and BBQs are fun. But what about sword training, acroyoga, archery, juggling, improv, dog training, motorbike riding? Most people don’t do this and stick to the common stuff. I try it, even if I’m uncomfortable or don’t think I like it. That’s why I feel I’m more interesting than the average Joe and have more hobbies and passions. And staying in your comfort zone with only the tiny percent of topics you care about keeps you as a one-dimensional person with a small amount of hobbies and doesn’t make you as interesting. I’ve been able to get a bunch of free classes in weird, interesting hobbies that I wouldn’t have if I let that hold me back. That includes juggling, sword fighting, zumba, hula hooping, beach volleyball, chess, poker, board games, and a lot more. Yeah, I was one of those skeptics at first, but I lived in a boring area, so I had to let go and just try it out because I had nothing better to do. It turns out it can lead you to interesting memories. The hula hooping meetup lead to me being encouraged to join the largest Halloween costume walk in the world with the hula hoop troupe in NYC; after plenty of encouragement, I did!
- Some events are going to have low attendance or not the type of people you want there. Still enjoy, have fun, don’t beat yourself up. I see a people use the online attendance counut as a judgement to not go to an event. I see people get upset when they show up and only half the RSVPed people show up. Or they’re expecting women to show up, and it’s all or mostly men or old people. Yeah, that happens! A lot of young women don’t need to use MeetUp. That said, some do! And guess what? You can still have fun regardless. I’ve been to plenty of hiking events where there’s only old people there. I still had a lot of fun exploring scenic areas and practicing my social skills. I get to learn about interesting people who were once young who have lived a full life and are retired as well. Turn lemons into lemonade. You can’t do that if you’re constantly discounting everything and leaving or not attending off the bat. On rare occasion, more people show up than RSVPed and the event is cooler with awesome attendees than you think – and there’s free catered food. You just never know!
- Don’t rely on meetup.com as your only or main way of meeting people and finding events. Yes, it is basically the only platform out there to help you that’s still around other than Facebook Events and Eventbrite in North America. That said, I relied on it too much. The issue was I think a lot of people naturally develop social circles and networks outside of MeetUp. Yes, I’ve been able to find some incredible events on there that have broadened my skills as person like learning how to use a sword and acroyoga. Yet at the same time, I have to acknowledge that most events are male-dominated; I think many women don’t need to rely on it because they get invited to things naturally in real life without it. I’ve been to crypto events and chess events – those two in particular have almost no women. Instead, I think it’s better to use Google and be creative with finding things you enjoy that may have the people you enjoy. Those types of groups or events have their own websites, but may not always have a MeetUp. I once was surprised when I was in NYC and had trouble finding any MeetUp events worthwhile on a Saturday! Just because MeetUp looks dead that day doesn’t mean there aren’t activities going on that day; I wish I learned this earlier in life. Try and get on the city’s events/activities lists. I used to rely too much on MeetUp; the truth is that some days are dead there even if it’s the most lively city in the world.
- MeetUp.com is not dead or dying. I think it’ll always have its place. Certain hobbies like archery, fitness classes, hiking, chess, board games, etc. work very well on MeetUp to advertise recurring events of certain groups. Sure, it’s not perfect and it doesn’t facilitate all events, as mentioned, but it’s amazing in certain ways. I’ve met fellow young asian communities and gone to some dope potluck BBQs on there.
- You can uncover additional events on your phone when you don’t see it on the desktop version for that day. Not sure why this is but it happens all the time.
- MeetUp is a great way to uncover weird new hobbies or skills you never considered. Swing dance, archery, circling, touch improv, salsa, improv comedy, pickleball, salsa, bachata, zouk, I’ve discovered and tried all these things through MeetUp even though I didn’t know what they were before! Some of these I’ve stuck to afterwards!
- Don’t be a negative nancy. Work on your social skills. Be brave, approach first, show warmth, talk to others! You could say I’ve gotten better socially over the years through MeetUp. I’m no expert yet I’m definitely not as anti-social or shy as some new people to MeetUp. The worst thing you can do is show up to an event, not talk to anyone, expect people to talk to you, have a sour attitude when not as many people showed up as you thought or not the type of people you wanted. You’re entitled to leave early, just don’t be a bad person about it. People gravitate towards positive people. So, if you’re too shy or putting out negative energy, you may be pushing people away and creating a perpetual self-confirming feedback loop without realizing it. Be positive! Talk to people! Learn to ask engaging, non-boring conversation questions. There’s plenty of books and articles on this. MeetUp is not a dating app. It’s a way for people to connect on similar interests. There’s a lot of cool ways you can grow in your skill or as a person through it. I’ve attended some pretty useful book clubs, public speaking events, free improv classes, table tennis classes, and personal finance groups through using it.
- Have fun! Try something new! Go to just one event today. You’re going to have fun and meet new people if you have a positive attitude about it. Not every event is going to be amazing. If you don’t set very high expectations, it’ll help. Why should you have those anyways? They’re doing all the work to organize this and advertise it, you get to be a free guest; that should be pretty cool already. That’s how I started. I didn’t let myself get overwhelmed and take on too much. I just started with one new event on a Saturday. I had the time and the motivation, so sometimes, I would drive an hour away to go to something. Obviously, not ideal, so if you can move to a big city, that’ll help with the commute time.
This is the first time I’ve shared that I’ve done all this through MeetUp. I don’t think people can naturally tell just by looking at or interacting with me. I believe it’s been an investment in my self-growth that will and has paid off. Yet it’s one of those things like reading a lot of books that isn’t apparently obvious even when I mention it. I think it may pay off in subtle, indirect ways, such as I have a lot more skills/topics I can talk to anyone about that I have a decent grasp or experience in.
Do you have any tips for our community on meeting people and making friends? What has worked for you other than MeetUp.com? Leave a comment Some ideas you can build off to talk about include: rec sports leagues (I’ve tried these too! They’re fun though small), bars, clubs, nightlife, hoping you get invited to a party, hosting your own events, running clubs, and classpass.com.