I have a confession to make – I’m an introvert, but I like meeting new people. That may sound contradictory, but hear me out. Unlike extroverts, meeting lots of new people all the time is tiring for me – it doesn’t energize me the way running, playing guitar, or even writing does. I love social contact with close friends though, and I enjoy meeting new people … in limited quantities.
Why does this matter? I’ve moved around a lot in my life, and at one point switched apartments every 6 months for a few years. Each move has come with it’s own cultural challenges, and in addition I’ve always lost most of my circle of friends. As an introvert, I needed to make an effort to get out and meet new people – and it recently occurred to me that I had unknowingly stumbled across a strategy to easily meet people without realizing it. I call it using social outposts.
What Is a Social Outpost?
Online, people talk about social media outposts – Facebook and Twitter for example. These are places where your online persona extends out of your blog, so other people can meet you and get to know you through different social media avenues.
Long before I knew anything about social media, I was doing the same thing with my hobbies to meet new people. I was using real life social outposts by going where people similar to me gathered, and using those meetings to showcase that aspect of my personality and form connections. Let’s take a look at some real life examples I’ve used.
Sid’s Social Outposts
- Open Mic Nights. I’ve performed at tons of open mic nights. I play guitar, write songs, sing – and even occasionally read my (terrible) poetry. It doesn’t matter how good or bad I am – by putting myself out there and going to open mic nights consistently, no matter what happens I always am able to form a connection with other musicians when I move to a new city. Some of those turn into friendships that have lasted years. Even if I don’t perform, I can always strike up a conversation with someone who has just gotten off stage by complimenting them, commenting on their playing style or song choice. There’s nothing sinister going on – I’m genuinely interested in music, and by putting myself in a situation that matches my interests, I can find common ground and meet people.
- Clubs and Meetups. It seems so cliche that I almost didn’t include it on the list, but the fact is I use these types of meetings to meet people like myself. My favorites include hiking meetups since we’re spending hours out in the mountains and valleys with no distractions. If you’re into running, there are running clubs everywhere, and if you aren’t really sure what you want, you can always check out Toastmasters.
- Networking Events. I’m a software engineer and love technology – so you’ll always find me at technology related networking events. I don’t know how popular this is in other professions, but for whatever reasons, software engineers love getting together to talk about their latest gadgets or websites we’ve built. A great way for me to show part of my personality, and easily meet others with similar interests.
- Organized Classes. I like playing volleyball, basketball and tennis – but I know there’s always room for me to improve. I have previously organized basketball and tennis meetups, but when I don’t want to go through the trouble of organizing them, it’s easy to find other people to play. I just find the local tennis courts and sign up for classes – it’s an outpost where I know I’ll meet other people to get together with for tennis. You don’t have to sign up for sports classes – acting classes, dance classes, and cooking classes are all options.
- Concerts. One of my favorite things about living in Los Angeles was going to concerts. I spent thousands of dollars attending all kinds of concerts, from big name acts to local bands performing in coffee shops. By connecting with people on fan forums online and then meeting up in person at the show, I formed friendships quickly with dozens of people. Very often they would be the same age as me, have similar hobbies and similar income levels. We’d hang out, meet up for lunch or dinner and if nothing else, would meet up a few times a year to attend different concerts together.
- Regular Hangouts. A final note, if you can’t find anything in your new town related to your hobbies or interests, just get out of the house and go to a regular hang out – whether that’s a coffee shop, bar, or happy hour. Typically my regular hang out will end up being something I wanted to do anyway – such as being a regular at an open mic night, or taking my laptop somewhere so I can work on my website somewhere I know other web developers congregate.
So, that’s how as an introvert I’m able to quickly meet people whenever I move to a new city – and how I can keep growing my circle of friends. What do you think? Do you have any social outposts that you consistently use to meet people?