Types Of Meetup.com Events, Based On Their Social Dynamics

Meetup.com is a site that lets people create social groups, then host get togethers that anyone can attend. In this article I talk about whether Meetup.com generally works as a way to make friends. This article shares some tips for socializing and mingling at meet up events.

Here I'll cover the broad types of Meetup.com get togethers, organized in terms of their social dynamics, and explain the pros and cons of each. If you're thinking of attending your first meet up, or have gone to a few but didn't have much luck, what I'll go over may give you a better idea of what to expect, or what types of groups may work best for you.

The three general types of Meetup.com events

They are:

  1. Get togethers that focus on talking and socializing for its own sake, maybe with a light activity thrown in
  2. Get togethers that revolve around doing an activity, one that gets in the way of conversation
  3. Events that aren't really social meet ups, but are being advertised through the site

Naturally there are Meetup.com get togethers that are a mix of these types, but overall I think you can slot most them into those categories.

Another factor that affects what socializing is like at meet ups is how many people are in attendance.

Get togethers that focus on socializing and get to know people for it own sake

There may be an activity, but it's the kind of thing you can do in the background as you chat with everyone. Examples include:

Pros:

Cons:

Socializing-focused events with a small vs. large turnout

The dynamics of meet ups also change based on how many people show up. While this factor affects every kind of meet up, you'll mainly feel the impact of the group's size at ones centered around socializing. Of course, there's a blurry line between a "small" turnout and a "big" one.

Small turnout meet ups

Either only a handful of people show up, or the overall gathering is bigger, but everyone quickly gets divided into smaller, set subgroups. For example, fifteen people attend a meet up at a restaurant, but have to split up into separate tables of four or five, then stay at them all evening.

These meet ups basically force everyone into a small group conversation. There's nowhere else to go, so everyone has to chat to each other.

Pros:

Cons:

Big turnout meet ups

Lots of people show up, and everyone is able to circulate and chat to everyone else. These events are all about mingling. That might involve a classic setting, like an open area of a pub, but also something like a hike, where you can speed up or slow down to chat to different groups along the trail.

Pros:

Cons:

Article continues below...

A general approach to take toward socializing-centered meet ups

To summarize some of the ideas above:

Also, check out this article for more practical tips on how to socialize at these types of meet ups:

Guide To Socializing And Meeting Friends At Meetup.com Events

Get togethers that involve an activity that gets in the way of conversation

For example:

Some of these, like seeing a movie, totally prevent conversation. Yeah, you can talk a bit before and after, but while the film is playing you have to sit in silence.

Other activities don't entirely stop the conversation, but tend to limit it. For example, if you're playing board games, a lot of what people say will be about the game itself. If you try to chat about other things it often won't be long before the discussion is pulled back to whose turn is next, a clever move someone made, or how the rules work in this or that situation. Or if a group has met to debate a philosophical issue, you may have a very interesting two-hour discussion about that subject, but not learn anything personal about any of the attendees (aside from their views on that one area).

Pros:

Cons:

A general approach to take toward activity-centered meet ups

Non-social events that are just advertised on Meetup.com

For example:

People may indicate they're attending on Meetup.com, but there's no expectation that everyone will find and talk to each other once they've arrived. Each person shows up and takes their own seat. You may as well be a random member of the public who found out about the event in another way.

These types of listings aren't all bad. You may still learn about an interesting event you wouldn't have known about otherwise. At the event you may still be able to strike up some conversations or meet some people. The built-in Meetup.com structure just isn't there. You're on your own. If you're not as confident about talking to people you don't know, this isn't the best option for you.

A general approach to take toward meet ups that are really just public events