Moving to a new city can be very challenging. For a young professional it means leaving behind friends, family, professional networks, and the general geographic familiarity that comes with being settled. If you are moving because of a job you got out of college you may be in for quite the surprise. Remember freshman year, you moved away to school and probably lived in a dorm with a roommate and had hallways of neighbors who were all doing the same thing – begging for friends.
Unfortunately, the post grad social life is not quite like that, some people have families, others are busy traveling for their jobs, and generally, there isn’t anyone leaving their front doors open hoping new neighbors will stop by. The good news is there are thousands of others your age in the same boat as you. Put these tips below to work and you will have the social life you have always dreamed of.
Make friends with Colleagues
If you have moved to a new city to work for a large organization, meeting people shouldn’t be too difficult for you. Generally speaking, most large organizations want their employees to network internally. They want a cohesive staff that works well together. There is a good chance that there will be social events set up by the organization where you can get to know other recent hires that are also looking for a social network.
Be careful though, some organizations try to limit the amount of interaction that their staff has outside of work to try and maintain a certain level of professionalism. Get a feel for the culture before you ask your colleagues to grab a brew after work.
Join a Club or Professional Organization
Joining a club is an excellent way to enjoy yourself as well as others. The beauty of this option is that there are literally clubs for everything. From photography to robotics to weightlifting; if there is an interest, there is a club for it. You should have no trouble striking up conversations with the other members, especially since you all share a common interest.
Professional organizations are also a great idea, and for more than just making friends. They are a great place to network and learn more about your industry and region. Just like with colleagues, be careful with how you behave in this setting. Being the bar star at the midweek cocktail hour may win you some friends, but it could be very harmful to your career.
Join a Recreational Sports League
Okay so I know that some of you were excited to leave the pressures of athletics in high school gym class. You’re the ones who still have nightmares about striking out… in slow pitch softball. But others of you have been aching to feed your competitive self. Competition at work can be healthy; it drives you to work harder and faster, and could definitely help to get you that promotion. But seriously, there’s no medal for who can create the largest paperclip chain.
For those of you who need an outlet for competition, are looking to stay in shape, or are just simply looking have fun while meeting new people, join a recreational sports league. If you are a member of a gym, see if they have leagues set up that you could join. Oftentimes, leagues are included in your gym membership. Otherwise, most areas have social leagues set up that you can sign up for.
Volunteering is not only a great way to meet people, but it also has many other benefits. By volunteering you can pick up and practice different technical, social, and leadership skills that you may not be able to at your current job. This is also another way to network and build your resume. If you have a passion for the organization, consider trying to become a board member.
In order to really build the relationships you are looking for, it is important to continue going on a regular basis to the activity that you choose. You probably won’t make any best friends on the first day, but over time you could build some very lasting relationships. Just don’t forget – you are there to help others, not just yourself.
Get Online (But Don’t Stay Online)
These days there is no shame in using the internet to meet people. In fact, it can be one of the most effective ways, as long as you are smart about it. It’s probably not wise to post an ad on Craigslist with your address, phone number, and a note saying your front door is unlocked. I also don’t mean joining a virtual community (didn’t we leave Runescape and Secondlife in junior high?). But going to websites such as www.meetup.com can be a great solution. Meetup.com allows you to find others with common interests, and schedule “meetups” based on these interests. Definitely a good idea to meet in common locations at first though.
Be Confident and Diligent
All of the above ideas will work. However, the key to success is found in the combination of two traits: confidence and diligence. You can’t expect people to just come up to you and start a friendship. You need to take the initiative in your search for a social circle. You need to be confident that others will accept what you have to offer.
Secondly, you need to be diligent. You can’t expect absolute success on the first day. You will need to be diligent in continuing to attend the networking events, league games, and volunteer activities. Even if someone who you struck a conversation up with the week before doesn’t approach you the second time around, you need to be bold and take the initiative to approach them.