Sure online communities are great. But sometimes, it's nice to have real human to human contact. When you want to meet with like minded people in the flesh, you need Meetup.com.
What's great about Meetup.com, is that it serves two different purposes. First, you can use it to find a group in your area. To try this out, I entered "new technology" and my zip code in the Meetup search window. In a matter of seconds, I had a list of over 200 new technology related groups that meet in the New York City area.
For example, I found The New York Dot Com Hatchery. Meetup informed me that this is a 1,000+ member group that is located 19.1 miles from my home. The group defines itself as a "unique funnel for innovators to interact with a wide range of investors, present their plans, receive expert feedback, bring in strong leadership, and pave the way for them to receive angel and institutional funding". I can join the group for free, and attend their next monthly meeting.
Meetup's second purpose is to enable you to easily create a group and get the word out about it. My friend Juliette is a Washington DC area macrobiotic chef and cooking instructor who decided to start DC Area Macrobiotics. She just started it, so it's still very small, but she considers it an interesting adjunct to Healthy Living, her "day job." In time she hopes to drive members from Healthy Living to DC Area Macrobiotics and vice versa.
Meetup's motto is Do something • Learn something • Share something • Change something. I like it.