Meetup Groups can help you build your network naturally. If you’re not familiar, Meetup is the “world’s largest network of local groups.” People use this website (more than 25 million users in 180 countries) to organize meetings and social activities and to meet up with new people (hence the name). It’s an easy way to dip your toe into the networking waters, especially if you’re new to an area or industry.

Here are a few tips when perusing Meetup groups:

Think of it as making new friends.

If the idea of showing up at a stuffy networking event with a memorized elevator pitch and a pocket full of business cards makes you queasy, here’s some good news. Meetup groups come in all shapes and sizes, and many are more like clubs than strict professional networking groups (Meetups like Millennial Business Network of Boulder, for example, are social in nature). Search your area for specific terms, but then read groups’ descriptions for an idea on their goals and activities. Most Meetups are quite clear on what they are trying to achieve. If a group sounds too formal for your taste, just keep looking.

Search broadly.

Your first search for Meetups might be to find people in similar lines of work as you, but keep an open mind. It’s a great idea to get to know people who work in your industry (health care, for example), but not in your same job (IT), just as it’s beneficial to get to know people who have the same job as you (accountant), but work in different industries (hospitality vs. public accounting). Look around to see what’s out there. If you work in graphic design, for example, Creative Connections is a Meetup of Denver-area graphic designers, writers, photographers, and marketers. Getting more specific, perhaps you live in Northeast Denver and would like to get to know web developers and other designers near you—Stapleton Geeks might be the perfect group for you.

 Check the ‘stats.’

You can tell a lot about a Meetup by reviewing some of the information about the group. Look at things like year established, number of members, calendar of events and past events, group reviews, locations of recent and upcoming Meetups, and photos. Does this group look fairly active? How often do they meet? What else can you tell by reading their main Meetup page?

Create your own group!

If you don’t see the exact Meetup you want to join, start your own. It’s an easy way to rally excitement around something about which you’re passionate and build some leadership skills in the process. You can be as specific or broad as you like when creating a Meetup group.

Meetup is an easy way to get involved in your industry and community and there are so many groups to explore. Whether you’re looking for a professional networking organization in your industry (like the Data Science & Business Analytics Meetup) or a fun and social group with other professionals just starting out (like the Denver Young Professionals Meetup), there is sure to be a Meetup group that meets your needs. Now, get out there and get involved!

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