Meetups in the Making

28 01 2008

Though I have followed Meetup.com since its role in the Howard Dean Campaign, I just recently became an active member. Meetup is a social networking portal that facilitates real-world meetings, revitalizing the internet for face-to-face communities. Scott Heiferman, founder of Meetup has said “that the primary inspiration was the book Bowling Alone, which is by Harvard sociologist about the decline of community in America and how people don’t know their neighbors anymore.” Sound familiar? Putnam assigns much blame to urban sprawl (among other things such as television and double-income families) for the decrease in social capital in the US. Driving longer distances has left us with less time to engage in social activities such as civic participation, recreational leagues etc. More on that in another post.

I am currently an active member of 5 Meetup Groups:

Coworking Community NYC

Mashable Meetups (Mashmeet)

NY Tech Meetup

NYC Tech4Good

The New York Web 2.0 for Grassroots Causes

I initially attended these events for two reasons: (1) to become familiar with the NYC Tech Community and (2) to find a programmer for my rideshare site. What I’ve actually gained from attending these events has been much more significant. My social network has grown significantly – I meet on average 5 new people at each event and remain in contact with them afterwards. I’ve been introduced to great contacts through people I’ve only met once. Consequently, this altruism has had a significant impact on my behavior. I’m always thinking of ways I can be useful to people around me – by providing information, contacts, references, etc. Not only does helping someone else provide that warm, fuzzy feeling inside, but it also establishes trust, which builds credibility.

I highly encourage you to find a group of people (on meetup or otherwise) who share similar interests and just take the plunge. For some of my friends who read this site, I’ve done some of this work for you. Take a look at these meetups and let me know if you end up going to any of their events.

The New York Photography and Lighting Workshops

The NYC Ken Wilber Meetup Group

Sit ‘n’ Knit New York

The Surfer’s Inner Circle

The NYC Cyclist/Foodie Meetup Group

And obviously there are numerous political meetups.

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