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Online social clubs that help you meet people

March 20, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
With texting, emailing and social networking, it's easy to lose sight of the little things.

"What I have seen is less and less ability to engage proficiently in ordinary social skills; such as introducing yourself, shaking hands," said Janet Sternberg of Fordham University.

A growing number of online services want to help connect you offline, putting together group experiences based on common interests such as food, exercise and beauty.

Amanda Hofman, founder of Urban Girl Squad, says modern day social clubs are a great way to experience new places and new faces.

"You need to go to a place where people are open to having a conversation, and not just on their phones," said Hofman.

Some sites, like Meetup and Group-O-Matic, let you create your social circles for free. Other sites, like Lifecrowd and Grubwithus, partner up with restaurants and retailers for more unique, curated activities, such as card-counting with a blackjack pro, wine-tasting or beer-brewing.

Your profile is free, but each event usually comes with an all-inclusive fee, which typically ranges between $10 and $40.

It's very easy for people to find something they're interested in and really jump in and get involved right away," said Allyson Pizula of Lifecrowd.

Matt Alexander is one of those people. He's been to a handful of Lifecrowd events, including sushi rolling, yoga and rock climbing.

"We actually don't find that very many people are stuck on their phones at our events. And part of the reason for that is that we create a really social, engaging environment," said Hofman.

Alexander feels the same way about Lifecrowd, and is already looking forward to his next real-life adventure.

"It's a good chance to meet people with the same kind of interests," said Alexander.

Some sites feature restaurants or cooking classes, while others offer outdoor activities. Some, like Plei, go for a more eclectic approach. It offers old-school style board games in a lounge setting with live DJs.


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