Making friends as an adult often boils down to networking. But, even the WORD networking makes many people want to run the other way. Admit it, you’ve been there!
I’m just moved to a new city.
How do I meet like-minded professionals, and better yet, friends in my new city?
It’s weird to think about making friends as an adult, but that’s really what I want. I tend to be introverted so it seems painful. Please help!
~ New to Austin
Lauren, today’s Dear Ellie columnist, breaks it down for us:
Dear New in Town,
After 18 moves, I understand what it’s like to start from scratch!
I’m not going to lie; it’s tough, but don’t worry, we will break it down together into small steps so you aren’t overwhelmed. As, Mel Robbins, one of my favorite coaches says, “brick by brick.”
Think of building a new friend base and network like dating. Both take trial and error, time, and a sense of humor.
I believe that if you set the right timing expectation upfront, you will be less discouraged and aware of the patience you need if your first attempts do not yield new life-long friends.
If they do, kudos to you!
But, after all of my moves, I find that it takes about six months to get over the honeymoon phase, and a year to make some true connections. Don’t be discouraged, time will move faster than you think.
Let’s start with some practical tips.
First, brainstorm. What interests you personally and professionally? Where do those cross over?
When I recently moved to a new city, I knew that I was interested in learning more about the startup community. I started researching active groups in my town, did some LinkedIn stalking on who was involved with those groups, and scheduled my first event.
Three years later, I have build an incredible network surrounding my work with the startup community.
One of my tricks is to identify an organization of interest and attend an event, either in-person (if you can) or virtually, and, if you enjoy it, ask to be a volunteer.
Anytime you want to volunteer, first ask the organizers where they need help and highlight the skill set you can share.
Don’t be a passive volunteer, be proactively helpful. Consistently show up and talk to people.
Sometimes it’s much easier to network when you have a “role”, even if it’s setting up chairs.
In time, you will naturally start building your network.
Now to the scary part. If you find someone you click with, ask for their contact and invite them to coffee or a Zoom date.
Be authentic in your ask. Here’s an example:
“Hi, I’m Lauren. I just moved into town and starting volunteering with this organization. I noticed that you are in marketing and I really admire what you are doing. I would love to treat you to coffee and get to know you.”
Most people love to help and share their knowledge. Highlight that in your ask.
Come to each meeting and event with an innate sense of curiosity about others. Share things about yourself in small chunks, as people get to know you more, but first, focus on them and LISTEN.
It’s time; let’s get out there!
To summarize, brainstorm, put your research hat on, schedule your first virtual or in-person event, follow up with the organizers and offer your expertise, and mingle.
Remember, the worst anyone can say to you is no, and if they do remember this little ditty by Ariana Grande “thank you, next!”
Hugs + Lashes,
Ellie + Lauren