How to reignite your social life after moving to a new city
When we're young, making friends is an easy and passive effort. It just happens by chance. You go to school everyday and some of the people that you encounter just happen to become your friends, mostly by virtue of you seeing them every single day. The kids in your neighborhood become your friends because, well, they're there anyway so why not? For the most part, when you're a child you don't have to go out of your way to make friends.
As you get older though, things get a little trickier. You have to make a deliberate effort to build relationships with people because a) everybody is too darn busy to have the energy to do so, b) people become remarkably lazy, and c) the only people you really see everyday are your work colleagues. Unfortunately, most people aren't lucky enough to work with super cool colleagues so your social circle can become disappointingly limited. There's obviously much more to it, but I think we can all agree that making friends becomes a deceptively difficult endeavor the older you get.
What if in addition to the challenges of making friends as an adult, you've also moved to a new city? The challenge takes up another layer of difficulty that may leave you exasperated and disillusioned. Because of all this, wouldn't it be nice to have a guidebook to help you tackle this challenge of making new friends in a new environment as an adult? Thankfully, the brilliant guys over at the Art of Charm broke it all down into very simple and clear steps in an old podcast episode of theirs.
I'm not going to go through every step of their guide because, first of all, that would be plagiarism and, secondly, you should just listen to the podcast episode yourself. The reason I'm writing this is because I think it is such an important topic that was broken down in such a crystal-clear and pragmatic manner, that I wanted to dedicate an exclusive post to it (so that you're more likely to actually go check it out!). Thus, I'm only going to add some brief personal insights on the parts that most caught my attention.
Once again, here's the link to the podcast episode. Regarding the four social groups you must maintain in your life that they talk about, I want to particularly stress the fourth group (charity) because it can be such a great source of social interaction that is so easily overlooked. Unlike at work, at a charity event there's no pressure to perform or deliver results, which takes away from genuine social interaction (this is fine, by the way; you're at work to work, after all). Furthermore, there's no pressure to impress your peers – like at a bar or club where you have to show that you're hot stuff – because all of you are there to support a good cause. They also tend to be quite fun because these events generally occur on the weekends when everyone just wants to get their minds off work for a while.
Ooh and you're actually making the world a better place, which is pretty darn important.
Around the 20 minute mark, the guys talk about not settling with just being part of an all-men's (or all-women's) group, but making sure that you add value to this group. It can really be as simple as bringing a quality bottle of whiskey to a poker night with the lads. The reason I bring this up is because it reminded me of the Ramit Sethi podcast episode where he says that the key to networking is not begging for introductions, but showing/proving that you can provide value to someone that is struggling with a specific problem. Although the comparison is not entirely perfect, this point of providing value seems to be extremely important in the entire realm of social interaction.
In spite of my love-hate relationship with social media, I do recognize its merits. Beyond the obvious benefit of using Facebook to plan recurring social events, what is more interesting to me is using it as a tool to "screen" potential friends. For example, do these new friends always post dramatic status updates, polarizing political statements, or attention-grabbing/clickbaity posts? Then you might wanna be on your guard when/if you invite them to your social events.
AJ makes the funny point of sounding the alarm whenever he meets a girl that has thousands or tens of thousands of Twitter followers but isn't as famous as Oprah Winfrey or Katy Perry. 'How the hell do you have so many Twitter followers but work as a waitress at Wendy's?'
But let's not focus on the negative, let's look at the positive. The most positive thing you can do is use social media as a way to bond instead of as a source of division. For instance, the guys discuss an example where you see from a guy's social feed that he's a huge kitesurfing fan because he always shares content about it, but has never gotten the explicit opportunity to talk about it when you meet him in person. Here, there are two potential scenarios: you're also a massive kitesurfing junkie, so the next time you see him in person you can talk about it and schedule some time to do it together or you're new to kitesurfing but you say "screw it, why not learn something new" and ask him to teach you. In the second case, you've just given this person the opportunity to show off his skills in a domain that he owns. Who doesn't like showing off his greatness?
Social Psychology and Consistency
We human beings love being perceived as high-status individuals. Even the most humble amongst us enjoy the social admiration and validation of being perceived as having many friends and a vibrant social life.
Around minute 37, the guys talk about hosting weekly pool parties*, something that clearly makes you look pretty damn cool and the people that come to such events even cooler. They further elaborate on this around minute 41 regarding the point of telling guys to bring booze and girls to invite friends to your event, the latter being another case of social psychology/validation. You look pretty high status if you, as a girl, know people that have wicked pool- and houseparties and you are the one inviting your friends to tag along. We're all just bloody narcissists, aren't we?
To be fair, it's a win-win for all: you get more people to come to your event and the girl gets to show that she knows cool people that host awesome parties and social events. I hate to sound so mischievous with all this 'social psychology scheming' (even though it's a fascinating topic), but sometimes you just gotta be strategic and pragmatic about things.
*Yeah, I know, weekly pool parties... God bless Los Angeles. To simpletons like me that have grown up and lived in modest places throughout his life, this seems almost more extravagant than relocating to Mars.
Finally, the guys talk about how crucial it is to maintain consistency when you're hosting events. Don't just blowout on a massive Project X party on a midsummer night and then never do anything again. Instead, have a weekly or bi-weekly event that's a bit lower key but still fun. As they emphasize so strongly, this ensures that someone that missed an event always knows that (s)he can join next time. The reason I bring this up is because it's exactly equivalent to the challenges of blogging and podcasting. You can't just sporadically post content and then think you're gonna become hot stuff. You have to keep showing up week after week (or biweekly) with solid content if you truly want to build a following. Consistency is key, both to blogging/podcasting and to creating a vibrant social life.
It's work, but it can be real fun work
There is so much more to this guide than what I wrote here, so you absolutely must listen to it! What I wrote here was merely a few brief personal insights on the matter which barely scratched the surface of what was a fantastically useful podcast episode. Even if you didn't recently move to a new city, this is useful for anybody that is in a rut in his/her social life. Happy Hunger Games!
See you, Space Cowboy.