I love, love, love Meetup.com. It’s a worldwide website, but I’d venture to say it’s especially popular in the DC area. Basically it’s a way to find groups of people who like doing the things you like to do. Say, for example, you’re a runner and you’re looking for other people to run with. Well then, you could join the I Run, You Run group, the DC Capital Striders Running group, the Rockville 20s & 30s Running/Hiking group, the Georgetown Running group, the Running with your Dog group, the Baby Boomer Runners Rule group, the Barefoot Runners of Northern Virginia and DC group … you get the idea. So yeah, pretty much if you can think of a group you’d like to join, you can find it. And in the off-chance you can’t, then you can start your own group for a small monthly fee (which you can recoup via membership dues if you want).
Joining a Meetup.com group is easy. You can search for a type of activity you’re interested in or just browse groups near where you live. Then you click “Join Us” – sometimes you have to write a little bit about yourself and then the organizer has to accept you. The organizers of your group will post upcoming meetings and you rsvp.
I personally recommend joining groups where there is an actual activity besides just meeting other people. I went to a 20s & 30s girls dinner one time, and it was a disaster. There were supposed to be like 20 people there and only THREE of us showed up. It was awkward and the other girls weren’t very nice. I’ve had much better luck with a kayaking group, a writing group and a book club group. If you are doing an activity, than even if you don’t connect with people in the group, you’ve still spent time doing something you enjoy. But that’s not to say that you won’t meet great people through Meetup.com, I certainly have–that one dinner excluded. And if your first Meetup.com event is a dud, don’t let that discourage you. There’s so many people on Meetup and so many groups, that if you try a few more I’m sure you’ll be glad you gave it another shot.