In today’s world, the thought of networking sounds more like spending extra time online answering emails and friendship requests. Introverts have gotten away with making hundreds of new friends without ever having to leave the house.
While social networking has taken over the conversation, social life skills form a very real-life scenario, one that will put our ability to be open to the test for the rest of our lives. It seems strange that nobody talks about the importance of developing this lifelong skill. With that, we would like to shed some light on the things that help adults open up more to one another, in real life situations. As in face to face.
You bounce off some people and find sparks with others. The sparks are felt when a connection is made, and mostly this is non-verbal. The warmth of someone’s voice and a bubbling smile can be enough to want to know more. Subconsciously we can sense personalities and the energy a person hums with, just like a motor. We gravitate towards people that jive with us, without having a logical reason. Friend matchmaking can thrive on shared interests or also a shared approach to life. These are qualities that transcend language and culture. This is chemistry. It can’t be bought nor sold.
Making Lasting Connections
People who work independently and spend little time in one place have the biggest challenge. Once you leave your home city or desk job, which mimics the social laboratory effect, finding that chemistry proves to be a real task. Facial repetition in a contained space eventually equals friendships, yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean the friendships will last beyond the job itself. The independent worker, not bound by time or space, can’t rely on these outdated paradigms to meet new people. This is probably a good thing, because people that chose the flexibility and richness of remote work is also likely in search of more fulfilling connections.
Once you meet someone in the coffee shop or gym, you might wonder how much initiative to take. Do you invite new faces to spend time, or let it evolve organically? Whether it’s dining, dating or friendship-making, we can take a clue from our childish self, who would simply say “Do you want to play”? Play potential is more important than the socially awkward moments that come with someone you have no shared history with.
Of course, today we have many more opportunities to filter our friendships. If you feel most comfortable in large groups, Meetup.com is the best site for finding groups with your interests – meetups are often local and low-key, like beach yoga, cooking classes or hiking. The group environment makes it easy to show up when its convenient. Seeing the same faces after a couple of classes makes it easy to hang with the people you like.
Filling in After-hours Time
Apps like eatwith.com and partywithalocal.com are great at doing exactly what they say. Party With a Local matches you with people with the same music taste. It has 150k users over 150 countries, so you can find a wide-range of music and venues… (even for people that don’t “party” with alcohol). Eatwith.com offers a more intimate environment, dining in local people’s homes with a limited number of guests. This in-home experience offers specialty menus that often explore local cuisine or by a chef that went independent. This app has high-level curation so you are likely to find yourself a stimulating atmosphere, with good people and food (this is my top pick).
Vayable.com is great for finding local experiences unique to the area you are in. For example, in Bali you can find a cycling tour, London has a vintage personal shopping outing, and Tokyo has a Hanami party where you eat and drink under cherry blossoms. Most people you meet will also be new to the culture, and the Vayable host will usually be local and let you in on more inside info. Triprapp.com is good for one-on-one meetups, or for people that have specific interests they would like company for. Want to hike to the waterfall, but would prefer to chat along the way? Users can actually plan their cross paths and connect ahead of time.
Putting Yourself Out There
Hotels usually have inviting nooks to work or read, or pool/fitness rooms or even exercise classes where you can meet others. Alternatively, you can go double duty and meet people while learning a new language. Either offer lessons in your language, or request lessons for an exchange. The people you meet will likely be open minded to new cultures and experiences, and the teaching goal takes the pressure of small talk. Lastly, a local yoga or dance studio is my first point of contact in any new location, along with a natural health food shop (health foodies still love their bulletin boards). Whatever friends you make in the real world, make sure you also befriend them digitally, as this will open more connections for you anywhere you go.