Whether you’ve moved to a new town, started a hobby, entered a new phase of life or just want to make some new friends, the web makes it easy to connect with people who have similar passions to your own.
Connecting with new people can help you get more out of life. You’ll have more support systems who know what you’re going through and can share your trials and victories with you. Especially if your hobbies include staying in shape or eating well, surrounding yourself with others who want to do the same can be a great motivator.
Here are six websites and apps that can help you take the plunge and start making new friends who share your interests:
Meetup (iOS & Android, Fees Per Group)
“Find your people” is Meetup’s slogan, and the site delivers on this promise. Meetup will connect you with others who enjoy your interests by letting you search for groups within five miles of your location using any of the site’s categories or your own terms.
For example, if you want to get moving but don’t have a specific sport in mind, you can look for groups in the fitness category. If you know you want to play soccer, you can search for a soccer-playing meetup.
If you don’t see what you’re looking for, you can also start a new group.
It’s free to create a Meetup account and join existing groups, but if you start your own meetup you’ll have to pay organizer dues.
There are currently two pricing plans for organizers, with a third option coming soon. Prices vary by region but Basic plans are around $10 a month and Unlimited member plans are about $15 a month. You can also ask members to contribute by paying annual dues or chipping in whatever they can to support the group.
Of course, this also means that you may be asked to pay dues or donate to the groups you join as a member. However, Meetup allows you to participate in a group for a trial period without paying dues. This means you can try out different groups to find the best fit.
Groupspaces (Web, Fees Per Group )
Groupspaces goes beyond the concept of the meetup to provide a home for many other kinds of groups as well. These groups include nonprofits, churches and university clubs. Joining a group means you get access to files, photos, newsletters, and event information shared within that group.
Similar to Meetup, Groupspaces lets you search for nearby groups using a category or keyword of your choice.
Groupspaces differs from Meetup in that it offers many options for individuals who already belong to a community, such as a college or church, but want to find groups within that specific community.
For example, Groupspaces hosts many groups affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania. A freshman at UPenn would have an easy time connecting with the on-campus clubs that match her academic and extracurricular interests.
One downfall of Groupspaces is the way their pricing plans are set up. The pricing page lists a Free and Basic account option, but they are at the bottom of the large chart of more expensive pricing plans.
A free account will get you 2 Member lists, a total of 50 Members and 250 MB of file storage. The Basic Plan expands this to 200 Members, 5 Member lists and 2 GB of files storage for about $8 a month.
Much like Meetup, being a member of a group means you may be asked to pay monthly dues, which will vary based on the groups that you join.
MEETin (Web, Free)
MEETin declares its mission simply as “make friends in the real world.” It’s run by volunteers and is completely free to use.
While MEETin lacks the flash and extensive features of sites like Meetup and Groupspaces, it’s easy to find your city listed in alphabetical order on the left side of the site. Each city’s page includes upcoming events and photos from past events, as well as classifieds and message boards.
If there currently isn’t a MEETin group established for your city, you can email the site webmaster to inquire about getting one started.
MEETin will help you meet new people in your town, whether you’ve just moved or want to stir up your social life. Popular events include happy hours and specific activities like ski trips and cultural outings.
Another great feature of MEETin is that it states upfront that the site is not for professional networking or dating. That’s not to say these things couldn’t develop organically, but it removes the pressures and expectations of such assumptions and frees you to just show up and have fun.
Smacktive (iOS & Android, [No Longer Available])
With a focus on sports, exercise and other physical activities, Smacktive will help you find people to go to the gym with or practice your tennis moves on.
Based on the premise that it’s easier to stick to a workout or new activity if you have someone to do it with, Smacktive’s purpose is to offer both companionship and accountability.
Smacktive gives you updates on the number of Smacktive users who are currently in your area, as well as the number of activities you can join in on nearby.
Of course, simple probability suggests that this app will likely be most valuable to you if you live in a well-populated area like a city.
Download: Smacktive on iOS | Android [No longer available]
WeGoDo (iOS, Free)
WeGoDo connects you to nearby people interested in the same hobbies and activities as you. Search for people with like interests using the app categories like “Urban Exploring,” “Mountain Biking” or even, simply, “Dogs.”
What distinguishes this meetup service from other, similar ones is the social media-like experience it offers. You can also post photos and comments about the things you’ve done, the things you want to do or anything else on your mind. WeGoDo also includes a news feed of local deals, curated content and recommendations. Think of WeGoDo as Facebook with a purpose.
Download: WeGoDo for iOS [No longer available]
ONE (iOS, Free)
ONE is an app for college students. It will connect you with potential friends, dates and colleagues by letting you create a profile of your interests and then notifying you when someone nearby has a similar interest.
Because it’s limited to college communities, students can feel somewhat safer about the people they may be matched with and approached by. ONE also displays photos of the people you’re matched with, making it easy to spot them.
Perfect for college freshmen or a recently-transferred student, ONE can help you find new people who share your passions.
Download: ONE on iOS [No longer available]
Ready, Set, Make Friends!
With so many great options for finding like-minded people nearby, there’s no excuse for being a couch potato. So get online, find some new groups to connect with and then get out there to meet your new pals.
Image Credit: Picography