Between the internet, social media, and smartphones you might think that everyone has a fantastic social life. Unfortunately, this isn’t necessarily the case. Many people, feel isolated and wish they had more friends than they have. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, people today move around and change jobs far more frequently than ever before. But also, the fixation with devices and the internet makes it harder to meet people in everyday life.
Here are some ways to help you expand your social circle:
1. Take a Class
Taking a class gives you a chance to learn a new skill or delve deeper into one you already have. Whether you take up a physical activity such as dance or yoga, study a foreign language, or learn about computer coding, you’ll be in an environment with other people as you pick up new skills. Look over the offerings at your local community college or adult education center or those advertised on bulletin boards and regional magazines.
Volunteering is another great way to connect with other people and do some good in your community. No matter where you live there are surely organizations that need help. You might help out at a homeless shelter, animal shelter, senior center, or hospital.
If you want to help the arts in your community, inquire at museums, private libraries, and nonprofit organizations in your area. Festivals and special events also frequently need volunteers.
3. Join a Community Garden
Community gardens are springing up everywhere. If there’s one near you, joining will help you meet people as well as give you fresh vegetables to eat. Some community gardens are also charitable and share their bounty with needy people, so this can also be a form of volunteering.
If you’ve never gardened before, you’ll find that more experienced gardeners will be glad to share their knowledge. You can also ask for help at gardening centers. If there’s no community garden, you might work with others to organize one. Either way, you’ll be meeting people and helping your community.
4. Cut Down on TV and Screen Time
If you want to spend more time with people, you may need to adjust your schedule to make more time for socializing. Take an honest look at how you spend your free time. If you spend long stretches watching TV, playing computer games, or browsing the internet, you may want to consider opening up your schedule. When you spend less time in front of screens, you’ll naturally look outward for more social activities.
5. Reignite Existing Friendships
Do you have friends with whom you’ve lost touch? It’s easy for time to slip by and cause friendships to weaken. Take the initiative and reach out to people you haven’t spoken to in a while. Even if they don’t live nearby, you can contact them on the phone.
Suggest getting together with an old friend for coffee or lunch. Consider what qualities or interests bonded you in the first place. There’s no guarantee you’ll still want to spend time with your best friend from kindergarten or your old college roommate. There’s no harm in reaching out to find out, though.
6. Get Closer to Connectors
Connectors are people with broad and deep social circles. They often have friends from a variety of backgrounds. Such people are typically extroverted and open to meeting new people. Even if you don’t have friends who fit this description, you probably at least know such people, perhaps at work, school, or community events. While connectors are typically open and easy to talk to, they also tend to be busy. Getting into their social circle puts you in a position to meet more people.
7. Bridge the Online and Offline Worlds
It’s not unusual to have more online than offline contacts. Some probably live far away, and you may not have much in common with others. However, in some cases, it’s possible to turn virtual contacts into real-world friends. Groups and forums are good for meeting people who share your interests. Larger social media groups and forums have members all over the place. Reach out to people who live in your area. You might also help to arrange an offline gathering in your city.
8. Follow the Local Arts and Foodie Scenes
Many cities have walking tours, art gallery hops, beer and wine tastings, and other events related to the arts and community. Keep up with the latest happenings in your area and get involved. Try to talk to people and comment on what you’re seeing, doing, or tasting.
9. Attend Conventions and Conferences
A good way to meet people with whom you share professional or personal interests is to attend significant events. Don’t assume you have to be an industry insider to get something out of these events. Search for activities that relate to your career, interests, or goals.
It’s not always convenient to attend conferences that may be hundreds of miles away, and you may have to save money to be able to afford it. At least make sure you don’t miss relevant conventions and conferences held in your area.
10. Keep an Open Mind
Although more of a mindset than a tactic, open-mindedness can have a profound effect on your social life. Sometimes it can be easy to get into the habit of not seeing existing opportunities, and perhaps even rejecting invitations. Try saying “yes” more often, even if your brain comes up with reasons to stay home. Similarly, try to widen your circle not only of people but also interests and possibilities. This way, when you hear about an event or activity, you’re less likely to dismiss it. When you’re more expansive and adventurous, you’re more likely to meet people.
These are some of the best ways to meet new friends and expand your social circle. Making new friends can take some time so don’t expect it to happen overnight. Building good friendships is a long-term project. But if putting in the effort, you’ll find that your social circle consistently starts to expand.