When you move to a new city, or are just beginning to seek a better way to connect to your own city, you may be looking for places to go that have the resources to connect you to opportunities and people. Here are the top places I recommend for getting connected to your community.
1. Your Local Library
Libraries are a great resource for community fliers, brochures, bulletins, calendar postings, and more. This is a great way to gather up some information on upcoming events and groups. Some libraries are also known to host book signings, public speakers, and other local events. This is a great way to meet people with different interests and backgrounds.
2. Your Local College/University
Whether it’s a community college or a four-year University, any student can tell you that college campuses are a great place to meet new people. If you’re not a student, why not register for an art class or a cooking class? Check out a theater play or a concert. There are many calendar events posted on your local college’s website that can connect you to new opportunities to check out and meet new people along the way.
3. Tourist Visitor Center
If you live in a city where tourists frequent, chances are you have a local Visitor Center. These tourism hubs provide plenty of free publications, brochures, and even maps to expand your horizons of what’s out there in your own backyard. Visitors Centers work hard to provide these guides, and you’ll likely find events, places, and attractions that you didn’t even know existed.
I have always been amazed at the opportunities that can open up by volunteering. Volunteering creates such a great atmosphere for getting to know people, your community, and building relationships. The different ways to volunteer are almost endless! From well-known national organizations to simpler platforms, everyone has something to contribute. Check out our Volunteer Guide to dive in to more ideas and possibilities for volunteering in a way that’s meaningful to you.
5. City Hall Meetings
Your local city hall is another fantastic way to get connected right at the hub of your city. One of my favorite ways to get involved is to sit in on public Commission meetings and discussions. Your city hall should have a listing of upcoming meetings and events posted in the lobby. See if any topics interest you to get involved and offer your support.
6. Interest-based Clubs and Groups
There isn’t a one-stop place for interest-based groups, it’s really up to your… well, interests! Some examples of groups that often meet together are Hiking, RC Planes, LGBT, Political Party, Archery, Gun Clubs, Bird-watching, etc. You name it! A great way to meet people that like the same things that you do. If you want to quickly see what’s out there, check out www.meetup.com. Meetup is a website that connects you to groups in your area based on interest. Many clubs and groups will also post fliers around town to get the word out. If you’re not very good at breaking the ice with new people, these groups are a great way to have something to talk about with strangers right off the bat. Some even don’t require much talking, just activities.
7. Recreation & Parks
I’ll admit that I’m not the kind of guy that likes to go to the gym. But I often hear that it’s a great place to meet people. There’s a natural rapport that develops when you’re doing an activity in a group. You may be into weight-lifting, yoga, archery, skiing, or just walking your dog at the dog park. It’s a great environment to meet new people and get connected to any related events. If that isn’t enough of a reason, it gets you out of your house and the Park is a great place to get some vitamin D3 from the sun.
8. Maker and Creative Spaces
As a tinkerer, this is one of my favorites. I’ve been fortunate to find makerspaces and hackerspaces in most cities that I’ve lived in, and the environment is vibrant with creativity. Most of these spaces are non-profit and just create a place for people to go and make things. Check out our hackerspaces article to see a tour of a few of these environments.
9. Business Networking Groups
Are you career-minded? Maybe an entrepreneur or business owner? Or perhaps you just want to find a group of people that will help you with your own personal development. There are many options for Business Networking Groups. Depending on what you’re looking for, you may be seeking to collaborate with other entrepreneurs in a Collaboration Space. Or perhaps you want to brush up on your public speaking by joining Toastmasters. If you’re a business owner and you want to connect to other business owners, a Chamber of Commerce may be what you’re looking for. Not all business networking groups are well-established. Some are just a small group of people that get together and network. For the professional wanting to connect with their community, there are many opportunities.
10. Marketplaces & Flea Markets
Not only are marketplaces and flea markets a good place to shop local and buy directly from small vendors, they’re a great place to get out and meet people. You get a sense of what the people in your community are building and creating. You may meet individual artists & bakers selling their creations, or local small business owners looking for business exposure. I love going to marketplaces to get a sense of the talents and pursuits in my community.
The good ol’ cork board bulletin board. Hang one of these up in a conspicuous place and see what people share. I find these all over the place once I start looking. Coffee shops and Co-Op Grocery stores are known for displaying bulletin boards. There will often be a random assortment of services people are offering, events, and interest groups. Anyone can post something on bulletin boards to reach out to others. Often there are unspoken rules of courtesy, and you’ll want to be mindful of the type of bulletin board you’re posting to.
Most churches I’ve been to are welcoming and open to newcomers, and are a great place for connecting in the community. Some base their mission on a foundational doctrine of belief. Others may be more universal, and open to multiple-beliefs. Most churches will post on their website a “What we believe” section to give new visitors an idea of their doctrine. Churches are often involved in outreach to the community and provide volunteering opportunities and programs.
Events is a very broad term, but they vary from city to city greatly. The types of events available often reflect the type of community you’re in. I’ve been to harvest festivals in small farming towns, and cultural events in different regions such as the Navajo Gathering of the Nations, Celtic Festivals, and Cinco de Mayo. Check the resource centers that I mentioned above, such as the library or even your local newspaper, for upcoming events. Be sure to mark it on your calendar so that you don’t forget.
14. Local Shops & Businesses
Your consumer habits may be a good direction for connecting with others in your community. Coffee shops, Cigar shops, and bars are always good places to meet others and chat. Some natural foods grocers and CoOps are often community-minded and a source for connecting and opportunities. I have gotten to know a lot of local business owners simply by frequenting their businesses as a regular customer.
When you’re young school is where you meet people. When you enter the workforce your employment may become the place where you socialize for most hours of the day. You gain a sense of belonging in your community by working in it. Even if you don’t have a steady job, freelancing your skills and talents are one of the best ways to get you connected to others in the place you call home.
I hope this outline helps you to find opportunities for getting connected in your city. There are many more resources in every city. Where do you go in your community to get connected?