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Get Out More: 6 Ways to Be More Social

Get Out More: 6 Ways to Be More Social

6 Ways to Be More Social

    Whether you’re a web worker, an overworked corporate employee, or just a homey sort, you’ve probably heard the refrain: “Get out more!”

    Yes, you could take a walk, take to drinking alone in a seedy bar, or drive around looking at billboards, but it’s likely that just physically getting out of the house isn’t all you need. No, those people who care about you are telling you to go out and meet some people, to be a little bit more social.

    Being social is good for you, of course. As social animals, our emotional and even physical health depends on social interaction. Our social relationships can help us deal with depression, stress, and plain old loneliness. Having a strong social network can help you find jobs or clients (some 70% of jobs are found through personal contacts, usually friends of friends).

    But some of us have a hard time figuring out how to be more social. Maybe you’re introverted and are pretty comfortable in your own company, most of the time. Maybe your job keeps you away from people – you work at home, or your work ties you to a PC screen all day, or whatever – and you just don’t have a lot of ties to other people to get started with. Maybe you just moved to a new city and don’t know the social landscape very well. Maybe you’re just too busy to get out much.

    Here are six ways to get started, ways to put yourself into a space where social ties are made. You’ll have to take the next steps, of course: showing up regularly (when appropriate), approaching people, speaking out, and so on, but if you put yourself into a situation where such social interaction is expected and normal, you might well find that the rest just follows.

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    1. Join a club.

    No duh, right? Yet American civic participation has dropped sharply over the last few decades, and other countries’ rates aren’t that far ahead.

    There is a club for almost every possible passion, from anthropology to zoology. Like to dress up in animal costumes and flirt with other similarly costumed folks? There’s a club for you. Enjoy collecting Japanese war memorabilia? There’s a club for you. Into gardening, feminism, or farming history? There’s a club.. well, you get the picture.

    The question is, is there a club for you near where you live? Check out your local alternative weekly’s “events” listing; many of the ongoing events will be club meetings. Check your library district’s website, too. And your local Parks and Recreation department might have listings for clubs. Or Google national associations related to your interests and see if they have a local chapter.

    If all else fails, and you’re feeling entrepreneurial, start your own club. Contact your local library, place of worship, or community center and see what you have to do to reserve a space (they’re usually free for community groups), put up a free website, call your local alternative weekly’s events desk and see about getting listed, and you’re off.

    2. Attend a Meetup.

    If a club sounds a little too… well, “clubby” for your tastes, maybe you’d be happier at a meetup. Meetups are semi-informal gatherings of like-minded people, often at a bar or restaurant, who get together to just chat and get to know each other.

    Meetup.com is the place to go to find meetups in your area. You can search by topic or by distance from your zipcode; I recommend the latter, since you might find groups devoted to topics that you wouldn’t have thought to search for. If you’re in a reasonably large metropolitan center, you should find dozens of local meetups on all manner of topics, from blogging to politics to knitting.

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    The typical meetup group meets once a month, either at a fixed location or by polling members to decide on an appropriate venue each month. You might be asked to pay a couple of dollars to help defray the organizer’s costs – Meetup.com charges a few dollars a month for listing and administering the group.

    3. Take a class.

    Whether you choose a traditional, semester-length class at a community college or university, a short-term workshop series through your local adult extension, or a one- or two-day seminar through an organization like Learning Annex, taking a class is a great way to meet people – while learning something new at the same time.

    Unless you’re under 22, my advice is to take evening classes or adult extension classes; these courses are most likely to include a large number of adults taking classes for their own professional development or personal improvement. While younger students can be incredible people, you may find that you have very little in common with them, and that they really don’t understand the kinds of pressures you face as a working adult and possibly parent. (And they can’t get into bars, which cuts out an excellent site for post-class camaraderie!)

    4. Teach a class.

    Nothing is more social than sharing your own hard-earned knowledge with people who can benefit from it most. Community colleges, adult extensions, and local government organizations (such as Parks and Recreation) are always on the lookout for people to teach either full-blown courses or shorter workshops. Pick up a copy of your local college’s catalog, or check out your city government’s class offerings online, to get an idea of what kind of courses they tend to offer and what you might be able to add to their line-up.

    The pay is often not very good, but that’s not the point. Think of it as something you do a night a week, where you meet interesting people and help them to advance their lives and careers. Or think of it as a chance to build up your professional presence: while you shouldn’t promote yourself in class, it can’t hurt to have a couple dozen people or so who know you’re a web designer or writer or marketing expert or business consultant or whatever – they have friends! And it looks pretty good on your resume.

    Most of all, though, you’ll be in the company of interesting adults once or twice a week, and while you want to be careful about too much fraternizing if you’re giving grades, the in-class interaction can be very satisfying. And if you’re not giving grades, there’s no reason at all not to take your students up on that offer of a beer or a cup of coffee after class – and you will be invited.

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    5. Look up local bloggers or twitterers.

    Since you already spend a good chunk of your online time reading blogs or tweeting, why not add a few local bloggers and twitterers to your feeds?

    There are a number of services to find blogs by location, some based on the blogger’s profile, others on geo-tagging information added to their feeds. I like these:

    • Feedmap.net: Enter a zip code or city name and hit search. This is a pretty new service, so listings seem a little thin, but it also seems better geared to non-US locations than some of the others.
    • Outside.in: Outside.in aggregates local news and blogs into a pretty user-friendly interface. When I visited, it auto-detected my location (useful, if a little scary!). You can create a profile page that will help other local bloggers find you, too.
    • PlaceBlogger: A search engine for blogs specifically about certain places. I had better luck searching by city than by zip code; there doesn’t seem t obe a way to search by “distance from” your zip code, just within it.

    If you’re on Twitter, you can use Summize’s advanced search function to find Twitterers “Near this place” (look at the “Places” box) . You’ll get the latest tweets from everyone near your chosen location; follow some and see what develops.

    Of course, reading local blogs and tweets doesn’t get you out of the house, but you may well start building relationships with people who are close enough that you can get together of off-line fun and mayhem.

    6. Go to conferences.

    Some people hate conferences. I don’t get that – where else do you get to interact with dozens or hundreds of people who are all interested in the same things you are?

    Seek out local conferences, take a stack of business cards, and go spend a day in the expo hall (which is usually free or pretty cheap). Hand your card out to all and sundry, and collect theirs as well. When you get home, send them each an email, or give them a call, just saying how nice it was to meet them.

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    But that’s getting ahead of ourselves, isn’t it? At the conference itself, make a point of asking vendors what their product does. Don’t waste their time if their product is totally useless to you or your company, but don’t feel like you’re intruding, either, if there’s any possible connection. Learn as much as you can – you never know what you might learn that you can use later. And that’s what the vendors are there for.

    Try approaching a few of your fellow conference-goers, too. They’re all there to network with people in their industry, so go ahead.

    Get out there!

    The hardest part of being more social is usually just getting out the front door of your house. Once you’re in the right context, unless you’re painfully shy, interacting with people will be a given. Push yourself a little to introduce yourself, speak up when necessary, and generally make yourself known – we rarely end up making the fools of ourselves that we’re so afraid of.

    There are other ways to be social, of course, but I’ve tried to focus on the most productive of them. Binge drinking, gambling, going to the movies or to exotic dance clubs – these might get you out of the house, but they’re highly unlikely to form the basis of lasting social relationships. What tips do others have for people looking to improve their social life and not sure where to start?

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    Last Updated on March 14, 2019

    7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

    7 Questions to Ask in a Job Interview That Will Impress the Interviewer

    Recruiters might hold thousands of interviews in their careers and a lot of them are reporting the same thing—that most candidates play it safe with the questions they ask, or have no questions to ask in a job interview at all.

    For job applicants, this approach is crazy! This is a job that you’re going to dedicate a lot of hours to and that might have a huge impact on your future career. Don’t throw away the chance to figure out if the position is perfect for you.

    Here are 7 killer questions to ask in a job interview that will both impress your counterpart and give you some really useful insights into whether this job will be a dream … or a nightmare.

    1. What are some challenges I might come up against this role?

    A lesser candidate might ask, “what does a typical day look like in this role?” While this is a perfectly reasonable question to ask in an interview, focusing on potential challenges takes you much further because it indicates that you already are visualizing yourself in the role.

    It’s impressive because it shows that you are not afraid of challenges, and you are prepared to strategize a game plan upfront to make sure you succeed if you get the job.

    It can also open up a conversation about how you’ve solved problems in the past which can be a reassuring exercise for both you and the hiring manager.

    How it helps you:

    If you ask the interviewer to describe a typical day, you may get a vibrant picture of all the lovely things you’ll get to do in this job and all the lovely people you’ll get to do them with.

    Asking about potential roadblocks means you hear the other side of the story—dysfunctional teams, internal politics, difficult clients, bootstrap budgets and so on. This can help you decide if you’re up for the challenge or whether, for the sake of your sanity, you should respectfully decline the job offer.

    2. What are the qualities of really successful people in this role?

    Employers don’t want to hire someone who goes through the motions; they want to hire someone who will excel.

    Asking this question shows that you care about success, too. How could they not hire you with a dragon-slayer attitude like that?

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    How it helps you:

    Interviewers hire people who are great people to work with, but the definition of “great people” differs from person to person.

    Does this company hire and promote people with a specific attitude, approach, worth ethic or communication style? Are the most successful people in this role strong extroverts who love to talk and socialize when you are studious and reserved? Does the company reward those who work insane hours when you’re happiest in a more relaxed environment?

    If so, then this may not be the right match for you.

    Whatever the answer is, you can decide whether you have what it takes for the manager to be happy with your performance in this role. And if the interviewer has no idea what success looks like for this position, this is a sign to proceed with extreme caution.

    3. From the research I did on your company, I noticed the culture really supports XYZ. Can you tell me more about that element of the culture and how it impacts this job role?

    Of course, you could just ask “what is the culture like here? ” but then you would miss a great opportunity to show that you’ve done your research!

    Interviewers give BIG bonus point to those who read up and pay attention, and you’ve just pointed out that (a) you’re diligent in your research (b) you care about the company culture and (c) you’re committed to finding a great cultural fit.

    How it helps you:

    This question is so useful because it lets you pick an element of the culture that you really care about and that will have the most impact on whether you are happy with the organization.

    For example, if training and development is important to you, then you need to know what’s on offer so you don’t end up in a dead-end job with no learning opportunities.

    Companies often talk a good talk, and their press releases may be full of shiny CSR initiatives and all the headline-grabbing diversity programs they’re putting in place. This is your opportunity to look under the hood and see if the company lives its values on the ground.

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    A company that says it is committed to doing the right thing by customers should not judge success by the number of up-sells an employee makes, for instance. Look for consistency, so you aren’t in for a culture shock after you start.

    4. What is the promotion path for this role, and how would my performance on that path be measured?

    To be clear, you are not asking when you will get promoted. Don’t go there—it’s presumptuous, and it indicates that you think you are better than the role you have applied for.

    A career-minded candidate, on the other hand, usually has a plan that she’s working towards. This question shows you have a great drive toward growth and advancement and an intention to stick with the company beyond your current state.

    How it helps you:

    One word: hierarchy.

    All organizations have levels of work and authority—executives, upper managers, line managers, the workforce, and so on. Understanding the hierarchical structure gives you power, because you can decide if you can work within it and are capable of climbing through its ranks, or whether it will be endlessly frustrating to you.

    In a traditional pyramid hierarchy, for example, the people at the bottom tend to have very little autonomy to make decisions. This gets better as you rise up through the pyramid, but even middle managers have little power to create policy; they are more concerned with enforcing the rules the top leaders make.

    If having a high degree of autonomy and accountability is important to you, you may do better in a flat hierarchy where work teams can design their own way of achieving the corporate goals.

    5. What’s the most important thing the successful candidate could accomplish in their first 3 months/6 months/year?

    Of all the questions to ask in a job interview, this one is impressive because it shows that you identify with and want to be a successful performer, and not just an average one.

    Here, you’re drilling down into what the company needs, and needs quite urgently, proving that you’re all about adding value to the organization and not just about what’s in it for you.

    How it helps you:

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    Most job descriptions come with 8, 10 or 12 different job responsibilities and a lot of them with be boilerplate or responsibilities that someone in HR thinks are associated with this role. This question gives you a better sense of which responsibilities are the most important—and they may not be what initially attracted you to the role.

    If you like the idea of training juniors, for example, but success is judged purely on your sales figures, then is this really the job you thought you were applying for?

    This question will also give you an idea of what kind of learning curve you’re expected to have and whether you’ll get any ramp-up time before getting down to business. If you’re the type of person who likes to jump right in and get things done, for instance, you may not be thrilled to hear that you’re going to spend the first three months shadowing a peer.

    6. What do you like about working here?

    This simple question is all about building rapport with the interviewer. People like to talk about themselves, and the interviewer will be flattered that you’re interested in her opinions.

    Hopefully, you’ll find some great connection points that the two of you share. What similar things drive you head into the office each day? How will you fit into the culture?

    How it helps you:

    You can learn a lot from this question. Someone who genuinely enjoys his job will be able to list several things they like, and their answers will sound passionate and sincere. If not….well, you might consider that a red flag.

    Since you potentially can learn a lot about the company culture from this question, it’s a good idea to figure out upfront what’s important to you. Maybe you’re looking for a hands-off boss who values independent thought and creativity? Maybe you work better in environments that move at a rapid, exciting pace?

    Whatever’s important to you, listen carefully and see if you can find any common ground.

    7. Based on this interview, do you have any questions or concerns about my qualifications for the role?

    What a great closing question to ask in a job interview! It shows that you’re not afraid of feedback—in fact, you are inviting it. Not being able to take criticism is a red flag for employers, who need to know that you’ll act on any “coaching moments” with a good heart.

    As a bonus, asking this question shows that you are really interested in the position and wish to clear up anything that may be holding the company back from hiring you.

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    How it helps you:

    What a devious beast this question is! On the surface, it looks straightforward, but it’s actually giving you four key pieces of information.

    First, is the manager capable of giving you feedback when put on the spot like this? Some managers are scared of giving feedback, or don’t think it’s important enough to bother outside of a formal performance appraisal. Do you want to work for a boss like that? How will you improve if no one is telling you what you did wrong?

    Second, can the manager give feedback in a constructive way without being too pillowy or too confrontational? It’s unfair to expect the interviewer to have figured out your preferred way of receiving feedback in the space of an interview, but if she come back with a machine-gun fire of shortcomings or one of those corporate feedback “sandwiches” (the doozy slipped between two slices of compliment), then you need to ask yourself, can you work with someone who gives feedback like that?

    Third, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about before you leave the interview. This gives you the chance to make a final, tailored sales pitch so you can convince the interviewer that she should not be worried about those things.

    Fourth, you get to learn the things the hiring manager is concerned about period. If turnover is keeping him up at night, then your frequent job hopping might get a lot of additional scrutiny. If he’s facing some issues with conflict or communication, then he might raise concerns regarding your performance in this area.

    Listen carefully: the concerns that are being raised about you might actually be a proxy for problems in the wider organization.

    Making Your Interview Work for You

    Interviews are a two-way street. While it is important to differentiate yourself from every other candidate, understand that convincing the interviewer you’re the right person for the role goes hand-in-hand with figuring out if the job is the right fit for you.

    Would you feel happy in a work environment where the people, priorities, culture and management style were completely at odds with the way you work? Didn’t think so!

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    Featured photo credit: Amy Hirschi via unsplash.com

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