Meet market

Social networking site helps those with similar interests connect face to face

— “I have to have the practice. We all would agree that having this Meetup group provides us with the practice to keep up our Spanish,” Walsh said. “Sometimes we splinter off in the group, where more advanced people will chat with each other. We’ve been making an effort to team up advanced people with novices in Spanish.”

Many other Capital District groups are listed on the site. Leslie Effman, who moved to the area in 2008, said she needed to reinvent her social life and make new friends.

“I retired in 2007 after 35 years of teaching, moved to the area to be near my grandchildren, and now what? My sister told me about Meetup and I was hooked,” Effman said

Effman took her own initiative by taking over a “word-lovers” group that was disbanding, she said. In her group, “Scrabble & More,” members meet up to play Scrabble, Boggle, Mah Jongg and more. Effman also has two other groups – “Books, Brunch and Babyboomers (55+),” which she started, and “Capital Region Dining Out & More,” an already established group where the original organizer stepped down from leadership.

“This is an active group sometimes dining out each week or more. We dine out at all sorts of restaurants in the local and surrounding areas,” Effman said.

The Meetup groups have not only expanded her social life but also her experience of the Capital Region. Since she joined, she’s learned new games, tried new restaurants and discovered new books, she said.

“I think Meetup has it all over Facebook for social networking,” Effman said. “Putting people in touch with each other face-to-face is a much richer experience than just ‘friending’ someone online.”

More so, Walsh stressed the importance of the site as a friendly way to hang out with people with similar interests.

“It’s a social media site, not a dating site. People shy away from it because of the name. It’s a gathering of similar interests’ site. It’s really good for people who don’t have a partner to do things with or a friend,” Walsh said.

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