The following is adapted from The Self Help Book by Jared Graybeal.
If you’re anything like me, at some point you’ve seen someone at the grocery store, coffee shop, DMV line (or wherever you choose to spend your free time), and thought, “That person looks interesting,” or, “I bet we would be friends.”
Most of us have felt that way at various times because people are interesting and dynamic, and we are usually pretty good at spotting the ones who we’d like to meet.
However, I’d also be willing to bet that you’ve rarely taken advantage of these opportunities. Why? Because people don’t just walk up and start talking to other people. Because it’s awkward. It doesn’t feel normal. It renders you vulnerable to rejection.
So what do you do if you want to meet people, but don’t really want to feel like a desperate creep? You’re in luck. Because I have asked myself the same question so many times, I decided to make a list of the easiest (and least awkward) ways to put yourself in a position to meet new people. Here’s how to get started.
Join a group or gathering.
I make the mistake all the time of expecting new connections to just pop up on my radar, without putting forth any effort. But when you take inventory and realize that you might be at a connection deficit, then it’s time to do the work. This can be much easier than you think.
I recommend taking a few minutes to browse the internet for groups that share your interests or occupation. Whether you end up choosing a local rotary club, church community group, meetup, Facebook group, or online poetry class, you can connect with a diverse group of people who will both understand and challenge you in different ways.
Change the way you use social media.
Most people spend a lot of time consuming content on social media. However, I believe that if you are going to use the platform, then you at least need to have a fifty/fifty ratio of giving and taking. This means you need to be putting out valuable content regularly if you are using the platform regularly.
Whether it’s a picture with text on Instagram, or sharing your thoughts or a quote you read on Facebook, we have a responsibility to contribute if we are going to take so much. Even if it’s posting a funny meme, you are providing value to people who look for that stuff to brighten their day.
The positive result behind this is that like-minded people will begin to gravitate toward your page and, ultimately, to you. If you take advantage of these opportunities, you can expand your network in a life-changing way. Some of my best friends and mentors came from social media connections.
Make a conscious effort to meet new people.
Personally, I have a list of fifteen things I try to do every single day. One of those things is “meet someone new.” When I do, I try to learn one thing about them, so that afterward, I can write down their name and what I learned about them in my phone. That might sound excessive, but it’s really come in handy over time.
From the coffee shop to the gym to the workplace to the dog park, people are literally everywhere. Try and take one of these opportunities each day and introduce yourself to someone new! After enough days of stepping outside of your comfort zone and introducing yourself to new people, you are bound to organically create a new connection that can help you get to the next level.
Serve or volunteer.
Regardless of your ambitions, regularly committing to serving, in some capacity, is just good human practice and it’s good for your soul. Altruistic motives aside, it can be an additional way to meet some great new people. I’m sure if you Googled “local volunteer opportunities,” you would find plenty, but here are a few examples: serve at your local church, local nonprofits (like thrift stores or food pantries, walk around your neighborhood, the beach, or a local prk and clean up trash.
Hang out with your friends’ friends.
You know those times when a friend of yours invites you out, and you ask, “Who’s going?” and they respond with a group of people you may not know, or at least not know that well? I usually avoid these situations because, honestly, I like my small circles. But when I recognize that I need to expand my network, then I take a step out of my comfort zone and say yes to these opportunities.
Being open-minded about hanging out with different groups of people (as long as their values or activities aren’t immoral or generally uncomfortable) can really expand your connection capacity.
Braving the awkward could have incredible results.
At the end of the day, you’ve gotta remember: I’m not promising you an experience free from awkwardness. Sometimes, we can’t control the situation. However, it’s important to remember that awkwardness is just the process of navigating a new or uncomfortable situation… and stretching yourself to do things that are tough is the number one way to grow.
It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. Almost every good thing that’s happened to me over the past decade has happened because I put myself out of my comfort zone and tried something new or met someone new.
You are brave. You are worth getting to know. And you can survive a little awkwardness.
For more advice on forging new connections, you can find The Self Help Book on Amazon.
My mission is to encourage, educate, and empower others to live happier, healthier lives. I am a NASM-certified personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, behavioral change specialist, CrossFit Level 2 trainer, and corrective exercise specialist with an education in marketing and psychology from the University of North Florida. I own and operate two companies. One is Superfit Foods, a healthy, subscription-based, fully customizable meal prep company. The other is E3, a business consulting and marketing agency. I’ve done a few cool things, like exhibiting Superfit Foods at Forbes Under 30 and giving a TEDx Talk on nutrition and mental health, and every day I get to work hard at doing what I love.