Updated March 6, 2019: Whether you’re looking for a date, a new friend or a professional contact, you no longer need to go to networking events or bars to meet new people. You can meet them on your phone, in your pajamas, at home. Don't know where to start? Here are the best apps for dating, making friends and networking.
Tinder: The most popular dating app
Tinder is probably the world’s most famous dating app. Its swipe-based system is now the industry standard. If you’ve been in a relationship (or under a rock) for the last five years, here’s how it works: you’re presented with a photo and a brief description, and if you want to talk to the person, you swipe right. If you don’t want to be connected, you swipe left. If both users swipe right, you’ll be connected.
Although Tinder gained a reputation as a hookup app, the wide variety of people on Tinder mean that you can find nearly anything — from a serious relationship to a brief fling. But Tinder isn’t just for romance: the app also has a groups feature, allowing you to join groups of friends to hang out and meet up.
Bumble: The friendlier dating app
Bumble operates a bit differently. You still swipe left or right, but for heterosexual dating, women have to make the first move. This is designed to make it a friendlier experience for women, who are all too often bombarded with raunchy messages on other apps.
Like Tinder, Bumble has a friends feature. Known as Bumble BFF, it allows you to find people of either gender to meet as friends. If you pay for their premium version, you can also see everyone who has already liked you — great for shy people scared of making the first move.
Coffee Meets Bagel: The dating app for serious relationships
Coffee Meets Bagel is a dating app built around finding serious relationships. Every day at noon you are presented with a limited number set of tailored matches. This is different than apps like Tinder, with a seemingly limitless number of matches.
Just make sure you're discussing money before you jump into a relationship. Not many couples do, and it can really hurt your relationship.
If you don’t see anyone you like, you can use their "discover" feature to find people based on height, age or other factors.
Hater: A fun way to meet new people
Tired of dating apps that match you based on what you like? What about matching based on things you hate?
On Hater, you choose the things you love or hate, then the app matches you with like-minded individuals. For a dating app that almost sounds like a joke, it’s actually surprisingly effective.
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Meeting new friends
WeChat: The app to find people near you
WeChat is China’s largest social network, but it has expanded to the rest of the world. Its "people nearby" feature allows you to find other WeChat users nearby. And since you can filter by gender, it is a useful way find new friends or a romantic partner.
Peanut: For mothers looking for mothers
A new entrant into the platonic friend-finding space, Peanut launched in early 2017 as a way for moms to meet fellow cool moms nearby. Founded by tech veterans with experience in the space, it uses the same swipe interface style as Tinder—but instead of swiping based on looks, moms swipe based on interests. It also includes info about kids and their ages so moms can use the app to assess playdate compatibility and make plans.
A unique way to make a new friend? Be a friend for hire — learn more about it here.
LinkedIn: The best app to keep professional contacts
At this point LinkedIn has basically morphed from professional social network to recruiting juggernaut. To find new contacts, simply search for companies or industries you’re interested in, and you can find highly-placed potential contacts who already work there. Since LinkedIn shows you mutual connections, you’ll know if you have actual friends who can make an introduction.
Shapr: Tinder for professional contacts
Shapr is basically Tinder meets LinkedIn. Instead of swiping for romance, you swipe to find new professional contacts. Shapr takes your interests, location and experience, and suggests tailored matches that will help advance your career. It’s a great concept and can result in unexpected matches that really propel your professional life forward.
Weave: A new way to expand your network
Like Shapr, Weave helps you grow your network through swiping, but it also has chat rooms organized by topic that allow you to talk to other like-minded professionals. From fundraising to finding a new job, Weave has rooms on every topic you’ll need to advance your career. Meeting the right person could be the key to making your next professional move.
Looking for more ways to make your life better? Check out these 25 free apps that will improve your life.
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Image: Jens Johnson*