Networking in Western New York using Meetup.com

If you are looking to get out and meet people in Western New York either for career purposes, or just for fun, Meetup.com is a great site to use to find groups and people with interests similar to yours.

What is Meetup.com?

Meetup.com is not a group, but a website that provides the online tools for groups to form and gain members.  The group’s organizer/creator then organizes actives for its members and people then get to meet in real life and participate in activities of all kinds. Groups are focused around activities (dining out, movies, walking) hobbies, political causes, religious affiliations, events and so forth. There is no cost to join or create an account on the website and most groups do not charge fees in order for you to join. You do, however, pay the cost of any activities you choose to participate in when meeting in real life. Here’s a general review of some of the groups currently available on Meetup. com (disclosure, I belong to all these groups and have attended group events in the past).

Hackerspace is “a community of technology enthusiasts who have come together to share our resources, knowledge and interests. Hackerspace is different from other Meetup groups, because they have a physical location in real life: two miles from downtown Buffalo on the 4th floor of 701 Seneca Street, Buffalo, New York.

Hackerspace holds events and classes around certain technology-related topics. As of this writing the group is having photography and video workshop along with meetups based around the iPhone, PhP and Perl. The group is a lot of fun and an unpretentious bunch that seems to welcome everyone into its fold.  They also have plenty of events based around socializing and fun including regular game nights, movies and a Halloween party is in the works.  Visit the group’s Meetup page for upcoming events.

Western New York Young Professionals is a “social and networking outlet for young professionals in their 20’s and 30’s in the Western New York area. Young professionals of all industries and occupations are welcome!”

This group was in danger of dissolving, as the original founder stepped down from duties and from paying the cost associated with keeping the group going on Meetup (Meetup.com  makes its money from the creation of groups and charges the founder a yearly fee.)  However, someone stepped up and has kept the group going and a meeting about the group and its direction will be happening at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4 at Panera Bread, 1593 Niagara Falls Blvd, Amherst, N.Y. If you are interested in joining, this would be a good event to attend.

Buffalo Niagara Women’s Social Circle is exclusively for women and although not strictly career-focused, it’s a great way to meet other female professionals. The unique thing about this group is that the group’s creator gave each member the power to schedule Meetups, so there’s never a shortage of events to attend. The group also offers a variety of events — country line dancing lessons, wine tastings, live comedy events, theater productions, and a book club are all scheduled Meetups for this group.

Meetup.com has a search function, so you can search for new groups that fit your interest. Meetup.com also allows you to subscribe to keywords that describe your interests and will alert you to new groups that use your preselected keywords.