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October 12, 2009

Meetup and Yelp provide local know-how

Posted: 08:30 AM ET

Have you ever been in this situation: You’re hundreds of miles from home, facing a new job in a HUGE city with no idea how to find anything, meet people or navigate the twisting highways?

When I moved to Atlanta, this was me. I was constantly lost. I couldn’t find a grocery store. And, more importantly, I didn’t know anyone.

I found myself online all the time, desperately e-mailing friends back home. So I started looking online for local things to do. I started my search at

It was easy to sign-up, and I joined a group with the most promising name: “Girls Night Out.”

This quest helped inspire me to produce a video series at called “My Online Life.” Our latest video, where we discuss and rank sites like Meetup, is at the bottom of this post.

Here’s how Meetup works: Each “Meetup Group” leader organizes activities in public places and the members are notified through E-mails. I was hoping to find a new restaurant or go dancing and through that, find some local friends.

Unfortunately, “Girls Night Out” was staying in. The leader didn’t plan anything, and my hope dwindled. Frustrated and tired of nights watching re-runs, I posted on the message board about why nothing was planned, and asked if anyone would like to get together for a drink.

Five girls responded, and so we set up a dinner. We met, chatted, shared a pitcher of mojitos, and got to be friends. Many more mojito nights later, I was on my way towards liking Atlanta.

Since then, I’ve joined 13 “meetup” groups. I can take my dog out for a play date, talk over travel, practice yoga, or play Jenga. Groups come and go and some are more active than others, but almost daily there’s a new gathering invite in my inbox.

Want to get to know your city? Here are the two sites we reviewed: B+

It’s easy to use, but sometimes starts up slowly B

Yelp has great reviews and event lists, but less opportunity for person-to person interaction

Embedded video from CNN Video

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Nathan   October 12th, 2009 11:26 am ET

I will back you up on your positive review of I am a member of the Wasatch Outdoor and Hiking Group here in Salt Lake City, among other groups. The people are great, and it is nice to have a calendar of hiking events I can check regularly and there is always something planned. I have met some nice friends and had some really fun times. I prefer it actually to facebook, because it is limited online interaction, but more just the necessary online interaction to lead to offline fun!

Franko   October 14th, 2009 1:26 pm ET

There was a need for sites like these
Easy to get lost and waste time in myspace, facebook, etc.
Very useful and well done - checking more

Steve   October 15th, 2009 8:59 am ET

I don't see the link to the video review on the post.

Robert Tolmach   October 16th, 2009 9:32 pm ET is a fantastic way to find people with similar interests. You don't have to be a newbie in town!

Johnny SD   October 26th, 2009 5:07 pm ET

I joined the "San Diego Running Meetup." The group was great. I was never a runner and wanted to complete a marathon. Thanks to this group I achieved my goal. The group is very social and has runs planned nearly everyday. Sadly, I no longer live in SD and no longer run. When I get back to SD, I will be active with this group again.

greatstuff   October 27th, 2009 2:01 pm ET

this is great and all, but it was always possible to do things like this on fb or myspace. matter of fact, i know many people from a group on myspace where we'd meet up and go to concerts. people would even come out of town for shows. and back before myspace, there were other social network websites, they had groups and people often met up. i know i've been doing it for about 10 years now.
it's nice that there are sites entirely dedicated to this, but it's not a new idea or happening.

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