Is it true that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with? Maybe you’ve begun to notice that the people who are staples in your life are not such great choices after all or your friendships need a refresh. If so, it might be time for a spring clean…
If you would like to meet new people, make new friends or simply, make a few adjustments; pushing past your comfort zone can allow you the space to grow. If you choose to build relationships with people who have diverse interests, goals and experiences, they may introduce you to possibilities and opportunities that you may not have previously considered.
You must be willing and committed to being the kind of person you want to be friends with. As cliché as it is, remember that a genuine and productive relationship is a two-way street. You cannot expect to gain valuable friendships if you don’t first establish yourself as a giver of value. Sometimes that means focusing on yourself, your personal goals and growth before worrying about those around you. Once you have understood that bettering yourself begins with the choices you make in your own life, you can then begin to examine those you surround yourself with more carefully.
It is no great secret that many of the people you meet in life may not be beneficial to your personal growth and wellbeing. In fact, they could be the polar opposite. I’ve always believed that even the most negative of experiences can providing me with a nugget of wisdom, a lesson to be learned or an a-ha moment but after that has been acknowledged, it is time to move swiftly forwards.
A person’s character, values and ideologies are what sets them apart so – what are the attributes or values you’re looking for in others?
The answer to this is going to change for every single one of us as it always depends on what we value. I like to surround myself with people whose characteristics include openness and honesty, optimism, self-awareness and empathy to name a few. What is it that you’re seeking? Once you know the kind of characteristics you value, the next challenge is to set about finding people who possess them. This is a daunting and intimidating task for many. It’s easy to stay within the comfort and convenience of the circles you’ve already created, especially if they are friends who you have had in your life for a number of years.
This does not need to be an overnight process nor is there a time limit on when it is appropriate to introduce yourself to new people and expand your network. Just being aware of it, is often enough.
So how do you start expanding your social circle?
There isn’t a single hub where all of your future friends, potential business partners and inspirations get together. However, there are plenty of ways in which you can begin the process of building your network. Here are five of my favourites;
1. Reach out to people you already know
We have all met at least a few people, in work or elsewhere that we find interesting and who we have things in common with. Adding these people on LinkedIn or social media is not enough to nurture those relationships and move them forward so why not reach out to them and say hello? You could even plan to meet up & keep the face-to-face interactions alive. It shows confidence on your part and everyone appreciates being remembered.
2. Take a step into the unknown
People start new friendships all of the time for varying reasons—relationships change, we develop new interests, people move to different cities or countries. It isn’t as awkward to reach out to new people as it appears. If you can find common ground and build rapport through conversation about a shared interest or passion, it will feel genuine and natural.
3. Find events in your area
Events ease the pressure of introducing yourself to strangers as everyone who is there is usually already open to the idea. Finding an event that caters to something that is important to you is a gold mine for meeting people who you share common values with. Head to meetup, Facebook or Eventbrite and see what’s happening right around the corner.
4. If it doesn’t exist, create it
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, why not create your own group on meetup or Facebook? By starting to connect with people online, you’ll ease yourself into new friendships which you can take offline when the time is right. I created a community for tall women alongside Tall Guides less than a year ago and it has grown to nearly 800 members. I’ve met up with some of the women in London, Germany and Amsterdam and a lot of them are no longer just members of an online community. They are my friends, colleagues, potential business partners, clients and people I trust.
5. Just do it!
Connecting with new people can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re out of ‘practice’ and it doesn’t help that there’s a stigma attached to the idea of loneliness – particularly in the age of social media, when we’re constantly bombarded with evidence of other people’s thriving social lives. But when you consider that while we may be feeling depressed or worrying about meeting new people, this isn’t going to solve the problem so maybe it’s time to acknowledge that we all just need to get a grip, and start inviting each other to things!
While it is a daunting task to expose yourself to new people and experiences, it can be one of the most rewarding decisions you make. Learn to trust your intuition and surround yourself with those who are as valuable to you, as you are to them.