Meeting new people

Create a self-sustaining system for meeting new people with 8 quick ways to expand your social circle

Do you ever feel like your social life’s in a rut?

You have a few good friends and some coworkers you see regularly. But that’s about it. You’re not meeting new people you can connect with. And you don’t know how to meet them.

I used to feel this way all the time. I wanted to meet new people I liked “naturally”, but that never happened. Because I kept doing the same things and seeing the same few people every day. I felt like my social life was at a dead end.

Until I learned a secret that changed everything …

The trick to meeting more people you’ll love is building a social network (and no, I’m not talking about adding friends on Facebook). I’m talking about creating a self-sustaining system that lets you keep meeting new people through the friends you’ve already made.

Networks are powerful things. And once you take the time to set one up, it starts growing by itself. Exponentially.

Most of us understand the value of networks when it comes to work and professional relationships. But when it comes to our friendships and social lives, we let Jesus take the wheel. We accept whatever relationships we stumble upon, instead of taking active steps to create a social life that truly serves us.

The truth is, just like a building a professional network, building a social network is a skill. It takes real thought and effort. And once you learn how to do it, you can create your dream social life wherever, whenever. No Jesus necessary.

Here are a few easy habits to help you get started!

1. Say yes.

Parties, barbecues, dinners, day trips — people are always inviting us to things. And usually, we find a way to say no. We think we’re too busy, or too tired. Or playing ultimate frisbee’s just not our thing. Maybe we don’t wanna go alone to something where we won’t know a lot of people.

Most of us default to saying no unless we KNOW it’ll be fun. But the truth is, most of the time we can’t know that. Especially when it comes to new situations with new people. Yes, it’s possible you won’t have a good time. But if you say no, you’ll never find out. Saying yes is what opens your world up. And if nothing else, it gives you a chance to exercise your social muscles.

💁‍♀️ When you get invited to something, say yes. No questions asked. If you go one time and decide it’s not your scene, you can say no the next time. But always say yes to that first invite. More often than not, you’ll surprise yourself with how much fun you have. And the more people you meet at events, the more invites you’ll get to other events.

2. Learn how to work a room.

Going to more things is just half the battle. You can go to every event under the sun and get nothing out of it if you spend the entire time looking at your phone, or talking to the friends you came with. Working a room is about making sure you get noticed. And meeting as many people as possible, so you can make the most of your time at any event.

It’s really easy to walk into a room full of people we don’t know, and immediately think it’s not our crowd. But that’s just our mind playing tricks on us. The truth is, we have no idea if this is our crowd or not, because we haven’t met any of them yet. We just see a bunch of strangers laughing and talking without us, and think we don’t belong. Even if those strangers are people we’d really like if we actually met them.

💁‍♀️ When you walk into a bar, a party or any other social function, resist the urge to immediately rush to the bar or find someone you know. Just slow down for a second and take it all in. Make some eye contact with the people in the room. Smile at them and allow everyone to notice you.

Then make your way around the room, whether it’s to the bar, to a table, or towards your friends on the other side. Move intentionally, and try to talk to every person you pass. Whether it’s a simple, “How’s your night going?” or “How do you know the host?” the trick is to smile and keep the interactions short. Imagine you’re just bouncing off people as you walk past them. Before you leave a person, always ask, “What was your name again?” And make sure they know yours too.

3. Act like you own the place.

This is a funny little exercise, and might seem odd to you at first. But think about all the times you’ve hosted a party. How do you act? You walk around the room, talking to everyone, making sure everyone’s having a good time. If you see someone you don’t know, you introduce yourself. If you see someone standing by themselves, you bring them into a group.

It’s your party, so you want everyone to have fun and feel included. You’re not worried about approaching people, because that’s what everyone expects you to do. And even if someone doesn’t know you’re the host, it doesn’t matter. You know you’re the host and you bring that confidence to all your interactions.

💁‍♀️ When you go to a party, put yourself in the shoes of the host. Look around, observe, and pay attention to your surroundings. Is someone looking around for where to put their coat? Help them! Is someone standing in the corner by themselves? Talk to them! You can keep the conversation super short and simple — “Hey, how’re you enjoying the party?” is a great way to start.

You might feel presumptuous stepping into this role. But the truth is, most people don’t know (or care) if you’re actually the host. They just respond to your warmth and openness. And the real host will appreciate you for helping make their party even better.

4. Treat everyone the same.

Being social is both a learned behaviour and an attitude. It doesn’t have an on-off switch. But most of us think it’s something we’ll naturally do for the “right people”. We walk into a room and think, “There’s no one here I’m interested in, so I’m not gonna be social.”

What we don’t realize is that the more we do that, the more pressure we put on ourselves for the situations that “do” matter. We haven’t practiced being social, so we get nervous about how to approach that one person we really wanna talk to. And we miss out on the connections we could have made with unexpected friends.

💁‍♀️ Decide on a few standard greetings or ways of approaching people that you’re comfortable with. It might be waving and asking, “How’s your day going?” or just making eye contact and smiling. Whatever it is, make a point to try it on every person you come in contact with. It doesn’t matter who they are — young, old, man, woman. The point is to get as many reps in as possible, until the greeting becomes second-nature. Once it does, approaching new people will be something you do on autopilot!

99% of the time, we get hung up on “how” to approach someone, trying to think of something witty or clever to say. But the truth is that rarely matters — the real trick is to just open the conversation with something casual and low-key. And allow it to naturally develop from there.

5. Be open to gateway friends.

When it comes to friends, so many of us think in absolutes. We think someone has to be a perfect match for us to be worth our time. If the conversation or chemistry isn’t all there, we think we can’t be friends. And we close ourselves off to the relationship. Even if they’re cool and have a lifestyle we like.

Remember — every single person knows more people who are like them. If you meet someone you like in general, in terms of their lifestyle and values, keep the connection alive. Even if you know you won’t be best friends. Chances are you’ll meet someone through them who could become a great friend.

💁‍♀️ When you meet someone new, pay attention to what “kind” of person they are. What do they do for fun? Are they the kind of person who goes camping for a month every summer? Do they go partying on King St. every night? Are they into mindfulness and spirituality? Do they like extreme sports and being active?

If you like who they are and the kind of life they live, get their contact info and keep in touch. Even if you don’t feel an immediate spark. You don’t need to talk to them every day, but check in every once in a while, even if it’s just to share a funny meme, or an article you think they’ll like. And make a point to invite them to events you’re going to, so that they start inviting you to their events too.

6. Meet new people who share your passions.

This is one of the fastest and easiest ways to find your people. And all it comes down to is doing the things you like to do in public. Whether it’s cooking, learning a new language, or obsessing over the latest Stephen King novel, find a way to do it with other people who want to do that thing as well.

Sharing experiences is one of the quickest and most powerful ways to build closeness. And turning your hobbies into social activities is a great way to filter for people who care about the same things you do, and have fun the same way!

💁‍♀️ Take an inventory of your hobbies. How many of them are you doing by yourself, in your house? Is there a way you can do them in public or share them with a group? A lot of times, this means taking a class or joining a group. But it doesn’t have to. It can be as simple as reading your book at your favourite coffee shop, instead of on your couch. Or getting a few people together to do yoga in the park, instead of in your living room.

7. Get used to starting conversations.

Every relationship begins with a conversation. So you just need to start having more of them. You might think you’re not that person who can just “talk to anyone”, but I’ve got a secret for you — we’re ALL that person. Every single one of us. We’re all human beings, and human beings are social animals. We’re hardwired to talk to each other and form relationships — it’s how we as a species survive.

But just like talking and walking, being social is something we have to learn. We all have the potential, but we have to work to develop the skill. People who are good at starting conversations aren’t good because they have some magical method or great conversation pieces. They’re good because they do it regularly. And the more they do it, the easier it gets.

💁‍♀️ Whenever you’re waiting for something and other people are there, use that as an opportunity to talk to them. It could be your barista, while you’re waiting for your coffee. Or the person next to you in line for the bus. It can be as simple as asking them for the time, or commenting on the weather. Don’t worry about the outcome of the conversation, or how to keep it going. Just keep practicing starting conversations until it becomes muscle memory.

8. Be a tourist.

Have you ever noticed how much friendlier people are when you travel? It’s like you somehow ended up in the only unfriendly city in the world. What gives?

Maybe some part of you already knows this, but what makes people friendly is not where they live. It’s YOU. When you go to a new city, you’re open and curious. You wanna know where all the cool places are, and you wanna meet the locals. You’re not worried about approaching people, because that’s what tourists do!

💁‍♀️ Be a tourist in your own city every once in a while. Take a weekend every month to explore a new neighbourhood or area. Walk through the streets, take in the architecture, and don’t use your phone for directions. Ask someone walking by if there’s good Chinese food around, or a cafe with a nice patio. If you see a mom-and-pop shop, walk in. Talk to the owners and ask them about their store and the neighbourhood.

👉 For more tips on how to meet new people in your neighbourhood, check out these 7 ways to make your neighbourhood feel like home!

I know this is a long list, but start with the one or two habits that seem easiest to you, and build from there. Within a few weeks, you’ll start to see your social life transform in front of your eyes!

Can't wait to hear how this goes for you!! xx

- Niloo

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Want more practical tips on how to meet new people? Check out the 8 habits that lead to spontaneous connections and Nina's article, How I broke the ice and became a friendly person!

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