Over the last couple of years I’ve tested out a number of friend-making services. You’d be amazed how much is out there, and how not-awkward they are. It occurred to me this morning that I don’t have these different sites/organizations in a comprehensive list anywhere, and that some of you other BFF-seekers might want to give some a try.
So here it is: THE FRIEND-SEEKING DIRECTORY
Girlfriendcircles.com: “The only online community that matches women into small local groups to meet potential friends in small, safe, effective and fun ways with others in the same area and age.” GirlfriendCircles is sort of like Match.com for friendship. But you don’t have to peruse the site and ask someone out if you don’t want. Most people go the ConnectingCircle route, where five or six women are matched and meet at a local cafe or restaurant. GirlfriendCircles also hosts speed-friending events. (CEO Shasta Nelson came up with my go-to friending formula.)
GrubWithUs.com: “Grubwithus is a social dining network that facilitates friendships by bringing awesome people together over delicious food.” I attended the first-ever Grub meal and I loved it. It’s like OpenTable but instead of reserving a table you reserve a seat at a table with others. When you show up you’ve got 12(ish) new dining companions, and you get a well-priced family-style meal at a local restaurant. Food! Friendship! Yum. (There’s even an MWF Seeking BFF meal group forming in Seattle. Go join!)
Mac ‘n’ Cheese Minglers: Chicago only. “A group of people interested in expanding networks – social, professional, romantic – come to a home for an evening of food, drink, discussion, and low-key, no-pressure connection-making.The one caveat? Everyone comes solo!” Local entrepreneur Saya Hillman does a wonderful job organizing these meet-new-people events. I met some cool and fascinating people.
Meet Joe: Chicago only. “Joe is a regular guy who introduces you to new friends in the city based on what you tell him about yourself and the kinds of people you want to meet. If you’ve ever stopped to wonder how many great people you’d know and like in Chicago if you just had an opportunity to meet them, then Meet Joe is for you.” Joe Drake is basically a friend matchmaker. First you meet him to explain what you’re looking for, then he matches you with a couple of people from his extensive network.
Meetup.com: “The world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face.” I tried a cooking group, but you can find local book clubs, running groups, knitting circles, webmaster clubs, theater groups…literally anything that interests you, there’s a group for that.
One Brick: “One Brick brings volunteers together to support other non-profit organizations by adopting an innovative twist to the volunteer experience: we create a friendly and social atmosphere around volunteering, and after each volunteer event, we invite volunteers to gather at a local restaurant or cafe where they can get to know one another in a relaxed social setting.” I absolutely love this organization. The volunteering is no-commitment, so you can sign up for one-time events around your own schedule. I worked at a local garden, and made a friend, all in one day!
Rentafriend.com: “RentAFriend.com has friends from around the world available for hire. Rent a friend to attend a social event, wedding, or party with you. Hire someone to introduce you to new people, or someone to go to a movie or a restaurant with. Hire a friend to show you around a new town, teach you a new skill/hobby, or just someone for companionship.” Listen, it’s pretty weird, but it exists. I did it.