Meeting new people is never easy.
Maybe you just landed your dream job, but don’t know how to break the ice with co-workers. Or you recently moved and need new connections. Whether it’s work or play, use these handy tips to navigate the waters of your city’s budding social scene.
Do Your Research
First, look up events that interest you. Then do some research on the who is attending. Just like you’d never show up for a speech without preparing notes, you shouldn’t show up at a networking event without some idea of who will be there and what they do.
Think of a couple questions to ask the other attendees. That way, when you speak to them, you will look more interested as opposed to opportunistic. You don’t have to sound like a robot, but it never hurts to be prepared.
Cultivate Your Interests
It’s easy to fall into the trap of happy hours, but you also want to have a place to be yourself. Creating an outlet for your interests doubles as a way to fulfill your passions while meeting like-minded people along the way.
Networking and meeting new people is hard, but if you’re doing something you love it won’t feel like work. Plus, enthusiasm is contagious, and people will notice. It’s a win-win.
Explore Your Surroundings
Every place you inhabit, from the local coffee shop to your apartment, is an opportunity to meet someone new.
If you’re at work, strike up conversation with colleagues around you or organize after work get-togethers. Being new in and of itself is an icebreaker, so ask some colleagues if they could show you or recommend their favorite places around the city.
If you’re more of a homebody, try organizing your own housewarming party. Not only does it open up more avenues for possible friendships, but it can establish a sense of community as well.
Build on Your Current Connections
Part of exploring your surroundings can also include your support system. If you moved with your spouse like I did, or have new roommates, they can give you a head-start finding friends and establishing a sense of belonging.
I recently met a couple of my husband’s new co-workers at a restaurant for happy hour and had a total blast. While I have yet to establish official friendships, it’s still a start and one to keep rolling with, because in a new place, making friends can take time.
Join Professional Clubs and Organizations
While Meetup can be a great resource for finding clubs, they can also lack structure. If you have specific goals in mind for your connections, try joining a professional organization.
Ivy is a “social network” dedicated to stimulating salon discussions on art, culture, and social issues, and their discussion events include famous names from the arts and entertainment industry.
Ladies America is for any lady boss looking to connect with fellow female entrepreneurs. With chapters all over the country, their events range from fashion-show fundraisers to discussion panels.
For more professional organizations that meet your specific goals, you can also check out Capitol Standard’s Connect page for a guide to groups near you.
Volunteering for an organization or cause can help you get involved and meet new people along the way.
Looking for something specific? By creating an online profile, VolunteerMatch.org will find local opportunities based on your interests.
Life can be hectic, so if your commitment is limited, you can find one-off events to lend your time to. Find what fires you up, and people will follow.
Find Online Communities That Match Your Goals
While it’s effective to network in person, it can also be energy-draining, and not all of us feel quite comfortable or safe in big groups yet. That’s where online communities come in.
Facebook and LinkedIn are home to countless groups that can connect you to people with the same goals or interests, and many of them schedule in-person meetups too. You can check Capitol Standard’s LinkedIn page for updates on events and resources for the budding professional.
Apps like Bumble BFF, Hey! VINA, and Shapr and just a few helping like-minded individuals make friends and build their professional network.
Networking, whether for work or play, is hard in a new city. Even without the pandemic, it can be difficult to find where you fit in amid so many people and distractions.
But don’t despair. Get outside, play hard, and keep putting yourself out there.
Build each experience and opportunity piece by piece, and eventually, you won’t even be thinking about building; you’ll just be doing.
Featured photography by Pablo Raya