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New Social Networking Sites Helping People Meet Offline

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(CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Have you ever wanted to try your hand at sushi rolling? Brew your own beer or simply make some new friends?

A number of new, online services are helping people connect offline for unique face to face experiences.

When you’re constantly connected, 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,” Janet Sternberg, Ph. D. at Fordham University said.

Now, a growing number of online services want to help connect you offline, arranging group experiences based on common interests like food, exercise, and beauty.

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

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

Some sites, like Meet-Up and Group-O-Matic, allow to you to create your own local circles for free. Other sites, like Lifecrowd, Grubwithus, and Urban Girl Squad partner with restaurants, retailers, experts and more for a slew of unique, curated activities.

“A chocolate and strawberry facials night, a Bollywood dance class,” Hofman said. “Card counting with a blackjack pro, wine tasting, beer brewing.”

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

“It’s very easy for people to find something they’re interested in and really jump in and get involved right away,” Allyson Pizula with Lifecrowd said.

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

“The rock climbing so far has been the most fun,” Alexander said.

The activities may be offline, but Sternberg is concerned that event-goers aren’t completely cutting the digital cord.

“What you’re doing is encouraging people to be on very specific sites, like a site for meeting people for dinner, and a site for meeting people to have dog walks together,” Sternberg said.

Even though digital devices aren’t officially banned at these get-togethers, Hofman said, “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.”.

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,” Alexander said.

Some sites, like Meet-Up and Group-O-Matic, are currently operating nationwide, while others are only available in select cities for now.

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