What Meetup is, How it Works, and Everything You Need to Know

Last updated: May 4, 2017 - 7:22pm EDT

We all have things we love to do in our spare time, but sometimes we lack the resources or social connections to be able to do them. Training for a marathon is often more fun with others – but what if none of your friends have a desire to get up at 5:00 AM to run with you? What if you just moved to a new town and don’t know anyone, but can’t live without playing baseball on summer nights? Meetup aims to solve these problems.

Meetup is a website that allows users to organize get-togethers with others who enjoy the same activities. Some common examples include sports teams, book clubs, and social groups. By signing up, you can find a group that suits the activity you’re looking for, or create your own group to bring others to you.

The philosophy at Meetup is “when we get together and do the things that matter to us, we’re at our best.” If you are passionate about something, or need a group of people to do what you love, you should consider signing up today. In this article, we’ll explain how the Meetup works, and teach you everything you need to know to help you decide if the website is for you.

How does Meetup work?

Once you create an account, you can use the website to find "meetups" (groups) that interest you... or create your own if no one else already has. Simply browse meetups in your area; you can also search for meetups by category, date, location, or suggestions for you (once you begin using Meetup and it learns your preferences). Click on any meetup that interests you to learn more about it. You can find out who attends it, what they do, when they were founded, and what they’re all about.  You can even see photos of their gatherings!

Once you find a meetup that interests you, you can join it. There are no restrictions to joining – all you have to do is confirm that you're joining, and then show up at the organized time! It’s also so simple to create your own meetup! Simply enter a bit of information about where you are and what you want to do, and then wait to see if others are interested as well. You can also send instant messages to other users to learn more about any meetup you may be interested in.

History of Meetup

Meetup was founded in 2002 by Scott Heiferman and Matt Meeker, and is based in New York City. Heifernman cited the September 11th attacks in New York City as inspiration for him to make it easier for strangers to come together.  Since then, Meetup has grown to over 28 million members who have organized over 260,000 meetup groups. In over 179 countries, 610,000 monthly meetups take place. Meetup also recently launched its app for mobile devices, so now it’s even easier to organize your meetups by taking Meetup with you on the go!

10 reasons to use Meetup

  1. Sports teams, exercise, and physical activities – Meetup is great if you love playing sports and want to organize a league.  It's also good if you just like exercising or doing physical or outdoor activities (like hiking or swimming) with others.
     
  2. Hobbies – No matter what your hobby is – knitting, model building, reading, etc. – there is probably someone out there who loves the same thing. And getting to do what you love with those who love the same things will likely lead to a more entertaining way to spend your time.  It may even lead to long-lasting friendships!
     
  3. Social encounters – Are you just looking to get out of the house and meet some new people? Many meetups exist that do an assortment of different activities.  They're not based on interest, but simply the philosophy that things are more fun while meeting new people and expanding your social group.
     
  4. Like-minded discussion – Many groups meet just to talk about things that they are interested in. Some popular groups include those that identify as part of various groups relating to politics, religion, sexual orientation, and so on.  Some groups take on current world issues, while others feature members of minority groups looking for others in their community. There are plenty of ways for you to connect with those with similar interests, or even go just to learn more about different perspectives on anything.
     
  5. Singles mixing activities – Many groups exists for dating purposes, to help you get out there and meet others in your area that you may have a connection with. It reduces the awkwardness of dating by connecting you with people who are all looking for the same thing: someone to spend time with.
     
  6. Increasing productivity – If you have trouble focusing on work, try a group where others do similar tasks, and need the group to help them focus as well.  Whether it's writing, studying, or working remotely, there are others who need to group dynamic to push them to focus on their work too!
     
  7. Cultural exploration – Some groups allow for the exploration of other cultures.  They can put you in touch with member of different groups to learn more about food, customs and traditions, and anything else you can think of. If you want to expand your cultural horizons, look for a group that focuses on cultural exploration.
     
  8. Learning – There are many groups that focus on a specific topic that members (typically emerging professionals) want to learn about.  You can get together with those who are seeking information just like you, combine your knowledge and resources, and make the most of your research into a new topic.
     
  9. Showcasing your professional or personal work – Whatever you are, and whatever you do, it's likely there are others out there who do the same things.  They may want a chance to show off their work or gain constructive feedback from peers. Artists, bakers, writers, anything – Meetup offers you a chance to showcase your work and learn from others.
     
  10. Finding friends in your age group – Many groups are age-specific, because we all know that what we’re looking for out of a group can change with age. Even if a group isn’t age-specific, you can typically tell from the members if it’s going to meet your requirements.  If it doesn't, start your own age-appropriate group!

Meetup pricing

Meetup users do not need to pay a fee to sign up for the website, and the service itself is free to use for individual users. Meetup makes its money by charging group organizers a monthly fee to run their groups. It is then up to the group organizers to choose whether or not to charge group members fees, and how much. In general, group organizers do not use Meetup to make money; usually, they only charge group members small fees to keep the group running.

Meetup currently has two price plans available: $14.99/month (for a group with up to 50 members and 3 co-organizers) or $19.99/month (with no restrictions). To learn more about pricing, visit our article on when the service is free, and how much it can cost you.

How safe is Meetup?

Meetup is as safe as any social media website, so long as reasonable precautions are taken. However, because you only need an email address to sign up, and the website has no identity verification, anyone could attend a meetup and pose a safety concern to users. However, this is not a common occurrence.

There are community guidelines and rules as to what constitutes an appropriate meetup. If a group member breaks these rules by becoming abusive, disrespectful, or dangerous, then other users can report them to Meetup via their website or email. Meetup will then remove the user from the group, or take appropriate actions necessary to make the Meetup group feel safe moving forward. 

Meetup competition

There are a few websites like Meetup that may spark your interest, or have something to offer you that Meetup doesn’t. Eventbrite allows users to create, promote, and register for events in their local area. Groupspaces allows you to organize group meetings just like Meetup. MEETin is a volunteer-run organization that organizes fun and free outings in major cities around the world. Foursquare lets you learn about some of the best spots in your area, and read reviews from people who have actually gone there. And finally, Citysocializer lets you grow your social network by making face-to-face connections with other users, typically through night-time activities.

To learn more about Meetup’s competition, check out this article.

 

That’s the run-down on Meetup! In the rest of our Meetup course, we’ll review Meetup, talk about the costs associated with it, teach you how to sign up for an account, and most importantly, how to use it. Check out these articles so you can become a Meetup pro today!

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