If you're moving to a new community, one of the best ways to find new friends and get involved in neighborhood activities is to join local clubs and volunteer groups. There are several online tools to help you start building a local network with people who share your interests and hobbies. These resources are aimed at helping you establish in-person connections with like-minded people, not just on-line interest groups.
Volunteer Match is a non-profit organization that helps you find local volunteer activities that match your interests and skills; it can also allow you to establish and lead new volunteer activities. Upon establishing an account, you can tailor your profile to match your interests; the web site will then provide a list of matching volunteer opportunities. If you authorize it, you will also receive email alerts to opportunities that fit your profile.
Volunteer Match is an excellent site for finding people with a similar social consciousness. You can also become a volunteer organizer by contributing a small tax-deductible monthly fee. Volunteer Match describes the advantages of being an organizer: "VolunteerMatch helps you effect positive change. You get volunteers matched with the right cause at the right moment. You get a larger number of highly qualified volunteers because you're matched with people who are both passionate about and committed to your cause."
If you spend any time online, you may already be familiar with this get-together website. Meetup is a great resource for people who want to find and engage with like-minded locals who enjoy the same things. From book clubs and dining clubs to groups that gather for wine tasting, hiking, skiing, and more, you'll find everything you need right here. And because this site is mainly a way for people to set up meetings and events to get together, all the socializing takes place offline, rather than at online chat rooms or other web spaces.
Meetup's public purpose statement: "Meetup is a platform for finding and building local communities. People use Meetup to meet new people, learn new things, find support, get out of their comfort zones, and pursue their passions, together."
An InstaMeet, defined literally, is a meeting of Facebookers/Instagrammers, in which users of similar interests get together to take online pictures and videos to share with one another and with the larger Instagram community. With Instagram now owned by Facebook, the distinctions between the two organizations have blurred somewhat, and many InstaMeets are publicized on Facebook pages established by individuals and organizations.
There are different options for getting involved. One of the easiest methods is to simply search for Instameets in your city, using a Instagram/Facebook search term that incorporates the name of your city, such as "InstameetBoston" or "IgersBoston," which will provide you a list of upcoming Instameets. ("Igers" is a familiar short-hand term for "Instagramers.")
Within the Instagram app, you look on the Community page, where you will find a map of upcoming events. You can join a group that's already established by using the map to zoom into events that are posted. Postings provide information about when and where to meet and what to expect from the event. You can also set up your own InstaMeet group, which can meet anywhere, any time and can have as many people as you want to attend. Most groups focus on the outdoors, but this is not always the case.
An InstaMeet can happen anywhere and be any size. It's a great opportunity to share or learn tips and tricks with other community members in your area, and it's a good excuse to get out and explore someplace new.
Nextdoor provides an on-line forum that allows people who live in a specific community to share information with one another. Postings can involve anything from recommendations for services, solicitations to sell or give items away, lost pet notifications, to alerts to local crime issues. Nextdoor also provides a social space for people to meet and set up neighborhood events. Some communities have used it to organize get-togethers and rallies to support local initiatives. Local government representatives also may post important information for residents and solicit feedback and input on civic issues.
Upon establishing a free verified account that identifies you by name (anonymity is not allowed) and neighborhood, you will have access to all postings by individuals within your neighborhood. You can respond to these postings, or make your own. Searching Nextdoor for "Events" is a good way to learn about various clubs and regular social activities conducted in your immediate neighborhood.
Nextdoor's statement of purpose: "Nextdoor is the neighborhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods, and services. We believe that by bringing neighbors together, we can cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on."
This is a great site for all things active—tennis, running, soccer, football, cycling, hiking, swimming, and more—where you'll find clubs, events, and teams to join in your area. It's designed for athletes of all ages and abilities and includes educational content on a variety of sports- and health-related topics. Search using "Current Locations" as the search parameter to learn about various active events scheduled in your area.
Active's mission statement reads: "ACTIVE.com is the leading online community for people who want to discover, learn about, share, register for and ultimately participate in activities about which they are passionate. Millions of active individuals visit ACTIVE.com each month to search and register online for races, events, team sports and recreational activities; interact with others who have similar interests; start online training programs; and access nutrition, fitness and training tips."
Meet the Neighbors
Started by the founder of The Lunch Club (now defunct), Meet the Neighbors is an online resource that helps you meet your neighbors via a common site, whether they live within your zip code or right in the same building. Visit the site and enter your zip code on the homepage to find out instantly whether there's a group in your area. If not, you can start a new group. Similar to Nextdoor, Meet the Neighbors is great for organizing or learning about events, activities, and message boards.
The mission statement for Meet the Neighbors reads: "Meet The Neighbors is an ongoing endeavor to create friendships and community between people who live in the same building or immediate neighborhood. We aim to help people build real-life, off-line relationships that are "geographically desirable."