9 Ways to Meet Like-minded People Outside of School

January 6, 2016
Year On TeamCollege

Original post by Suchi Rudra

In the early weeks of your first semester at college, you're usually bombarded by student club fairs where eager members recruit newcomers into their ranks. There's something for everyone: environmental activists, photographers, entrepreneurs, glee club, community service volunteers—or whatever quirky hobby you're into. These college organizations can cover a pretty wide spectrum of diverse interests.  

But what if you're not part of the college scene yet? What if you may not be for awhile? There's also something called the Internet—and that also covers a pretty wide spectrum of diverse interests. A quick online search will produce plenty of attractive options for meeting people with similar interests—and I'm not talking about dating sites. Most of these groups are free to join, and within hours, you could go from connecting with new people online to meeting them--gasp--IRL (in real life).

The point here isn't only to meet your new best friend, although that very well may happen. It's also about finding people who share your passions, hobbies, and level of motivation—and who can inspire you. You can call it growing your network, making connections, or just hanging out with cool people. Regardless, if you feel that you aren't meeting the right people (or any people) in your life, it's time to take action and explore some new venues, both online and off.

Facebook

Why not start at the most obvious place? Facebook groups have become huge in connecting like-minded people all over the world. Search for relevant keywords to discover interest-based groups in your area, or join a national or international group that may have regional meetups. Ask your friends if they are part of a Facebook group that you might like to join; some groups are “secret” and require an invite from a member.

Meetup.com

This free and popular site is bursting with group activities of all kinds, all across the globe. Whatever brand of progressive or quirky you subscribe to, you will likely find your tribe here. And if you still can't find a meetup that suits you, you can easily start your own. Build it and they will come.  

Hackathons

Today, hackathons aren’t only for those interested in tech or computer science. There are hackathons all over the world on an array of topics like cooking, mobile apps, and higher education. There are microsites for cities, but this site does a great job of listing out international hackathons.

LinkedIn

This is an especially intriguing place to start if you're serious about growing your network and getting a jump start on your career. Fill out your profile to reflect your experience and professional attitude, start making connections (keep an eye out for professionals in your area), join relevant groups and post in discussions that excite you.

CouchSurfing

Even if you've never had a chance to host or be a guest through this website that helps travelers find free (yes, free!) accommodation with locals anywhere in the world, you can still join a weekly CouchSurfing meeting or event wherever you are located. Check out your city's Discussion page on the CouchSurfing website (it's also free to become a member) to find out what's going on or to post your own meeting/event suggestion. If you're excited about meeting people from all over the world and talking to people who love traveling, go and sign up asap.

Volunteer

Aside from helping you feel good about yourself, volunteering is an easy way to get to know others who share your passion for service and giving back to the community. Whether it's a hospital, the animal shelter, a soup kitchen or a beach cleanup, the experience is sure to be memorable.

Nanowrimo

Although this major write-athon and associated events happen once a year during the National Novel Writing Month of November, the people you will meet during those events can offer your support, feedback and general camaraderie if you are living the writerly life. You can find regional forums and events on the Nanowrimo website.

Language tandems

Interested in picking up a new language? Want to practice a language that you've learned in high school so you don't forget it or so you can prepare for your upcoming trip abroad? Try a language conversation exchange. You might have a better chance of finding a language partner nearby with popular sites like Meetup.com or CouchSurfing, but you can also use a language learning website like MyLanguageExchange to search for other members who are in your area.

Bookstores and Libraries

If you can tear yourself away from that Kindle, you'll find that bookstores are still cool places to meet cool people. See who else is admiring the new sci-fi display, strike up a conversation with someone in line at the book signing, and check the store's schedule of events for any book clubs or writing workshops.

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