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Are you meeting inspiring people? Why you should checkout meetup.com

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If you haven’t heard of meetup.com, then you should change that about yourself. No, it’s not a dating site. The premise is simple: someone has an interest, they setup a group on meetup.com around that interest, people join it, then you arrange in-person meetups. It’s free to join, and has global reach. Meetup formats vary massively, from informal drinks, to sit-down presentations.

When I lived in London, I attended a couple of meetups on different Javascript frameworks (Backbone.js and Angular.js). I was completely gob-smacked at the caliber of people who showed up. Like, serious boffins, talking through their recent challenges, showing their latest projects, delving into their code. For free. Being sat there, being able to ask questions and learn from people who were building really cool things, either for well-established business like Google or Skype, or who were working on startups, was brilliant. I deeply regret not going to more. In particular, I missed a big chance to learn more about the vibrant London startup scene.

More recently, since moving to Beijing, meetup.com has helped me meet people who on the entrepreneurial ‘circuit’ here. Since it’s an English site, most people who use it can speak English, which is a massive help to me given the current state of my Chinese. This is a massive boon. Getting a chance to talk with people further down the line in their entrepreneurial journey, swap stories, and compare notes is very eye-opening. Five years ago I probably would have had to join some kind of convention. Now it’s just so easy! There are fewer and fewer excuses in today’s world to not have surrounded yourself with interesting people. As the saying goes, you are the sum of the five people with whom you spend the most time. As I’m prone to ranting about, the frequency of people with character among entrepreneurs is notably higher than that among corporate drones. I don’t really know why this is, but I’d hazard a few guesses: willingness to take risks, propensity for ‘outside the box’ (or cubicle) thinking, ambition, intelligence (after all, starting a company is basically the only way to get really rich), and high levels of determination.

But obviously in the examples above I’ve talked about meetups focused on my interests. You could use meetup for almost anything: from sports groups, to people who obviously just want to have a piss-up, to learning embroidery. If you live in a big city, you will be spoiled for choice. A big part of personal development is spending time with people who help you grow. meetup.com will help you do that quickly and effortlessly. Do yourself a favor and don’t bring your friends. That goes double if you’re a natural introvert.