How to Meet People
How to Meet People
By Janis Kupferer
I move a lot; typically due to a great job offer. And although I am always excited about the prospect of starting with a new company, I’m never excited about the idea of trotting into a foreign land all by my lonesome. Because the fact is, meeting new people and friends is hard. But for as many times that I’ve unloaded the moving truck, I’ve also found a new tip and technique to meet new friends. My latest move was to Atlanta last year, so let’s just say that my skills are sufficiently honed now.
Of course, today the process of meeting new people is infinitely more easy, thanks especially to sites like SocialJane.com. But even now, with the help of technology, it still can be difficult to push past fear, fatigue and feeling a bit pathetic, and get out there and make some new acquaintances.
Please note that I purposefully used the word acquaintance above, as this is who you are meeting, acquaintances—people you don’t really know, but may want to pursue as a friend. There is a whole other article about how to make new friends, but first you have to have some good solid prospects.
Here is how I did it.
Find Good Hunting Grounds:
I put myself in places where other people were. I chose places that would provide an environment that lent itself to interaction naturally. I didn’t go to the mall in the hopes of finding friends, but I did frequent the local café in my neighborhood and I joined a theater group. I also made regular appearances at the local bookstore, attending all the readings by visiting authors.
In a nutshell, I did things that I enjoy: attending musicals and plays with a group of other enthusiast; listening to talented writers speak on their craft and chatting with others who were regular attendees, and eating at the counter of a local restaurant, greeting other neighbors who happened in.
My first priority wasn’t to be on the hunt for new friends, it was to be doing whatever it was that I intended to be doing. The fact that there were others who were also enjoying the same things, and would be spending a significant amount of time there doing it, made these locals perfect for my secondary purpose of reaching out to new folks. Oh, and it helps that because I was doing things that I enjoy, I was relaxed and thus in a great frame of mind when the chance for interaction came about.
Look for a location that:
• Welcomes casual interaction and conversation
• Provides for your prolonged presence
• Encourages frequent or regular attendance
• Enhances your happiness
Make Your Move:
To get the ball rolling in terms on meeting new people, you first have to strike up a conversation and introduction yourself. When embarking on a conversation with a stranger, there are a few rules that are helpful to follow.
The easiest way to engage in conversation is to simply state the obvious or make a general observation of some kind. Something along the lines of “It’s beautiful outside today” or, “Great game last night, huh” works perfectly. The person to whom you are speaking then has the choice to simply provide a yes or no answer and leave it at that if uninterested in continuing the conversation, or add a little something that opens the dialog up to further discussion.
Starting out with a question or a compliment also works. For example, “That book was recommended to me too, are you enjoying it” or, “Wow, those boots are terrific!” The thing to remember is to make it comfortable and easy for the other person to decide whether they want to engage in a conversation.
If providing a compliment, you should keep it very impersonal and not about a physical quality. Comments from strangers about one’s personal appearance often make others feel uncomfortable.
As the conversation continues, then absolutely introduce yourself, adding a bit of information about yourself (I’m Jane. I’ve just recently moved to the neighborhood).
Start a conversation by:
• Focusing on a commonality
• Providing a genuine compliment
• Making a general observation
• Asking a question
Go with the Flow:
Forming new friendships is a process. It can happen very quickly or it can take a while, developing over the course of many get-togethers or exchanges. However, regardless of the timeframe over which a friendship forms, they all require the same steps: A meeting, an introduction, and a series of interactions in which increasing levels of disclosure are provided. Then, when you’ve met someone with whom you enjoy and share interests, you extend the friendship by inviting them to participate in another activity or event.
For instance, you greet someone at your yoga class. The next class, you throw your mat down beside her and perhaps exchange a few words about how great the class was. The next time, you tell her you are new to the gym, and ask her if there are other classes that she likes too. She invites you to join her for the kickboxing session. You decide to grab a smoothie after class, and continue to get to know each other. The chances are, given your mutual interest in staying active and healthy, you may have just sprouted a new friendship.
Here’s the thing to remember however, you need to let go of expectations and just go with the flow. You need some new friends, but you aren’t needy. Your goal shouldn’t be to “make a new friend,” it should be to put yourself out there and open yourself up to the potential for new friendships. Don’t allow your need for a new friend to become the main driver in your interactions. It will show.
Just like if you need a winter coat because it is cold out, you wouldn’t buy the first coat you see. It may be the wrong size, not offer enough warmth, or have itchy fabric. Yes, you need a coat. But be too eager to buy any coat and you’ll probably be back in the market again before too long.
Not everyone is a fit, and not everyone that you’d like to befriend is interested in befriending you. And that’s okay. Friendships, at least the ones that you want, happen naturally and follow a common path. When meeting new people, take time to get to know others, put yourself in places and situations that invite introductions to new people, and above all else, have fun and enjoy the process. Most likely, these new friends will be in your life for a long, long time.