“Every person in the world sees the world in a different light, and perceives the world to be a different place. The beauty about meeting new people is that they can expose you to exactly what they see. It can open your eyes to things, new ideas, hopes, dreams, and opportunities. You may even discover something about yourself that you never knew before. Different people bring out different aspects of yourself.” — Kelly McLeod
At the core of the undergraduate college experience is building and forming new relationships. Despite this truth, as graduates we often forget what makes college, college. Instead we reduce the most enticing aspects of the collegiate experience to Fridays and Saturdays, as those are typically the moments captured on our Instagrams and saved in our Snapchat history. We forget that some of the most enjoyable moments of college were Mondays in between your 1:00pm and 2:30pm class, or the random weekdays we would stay up until the early morning talking with friends.
Transitioning from the collegiate environment where building and forming new relationships is embedded in that culture to the “real world” is difficult for many, myself included. Surprisingly, the most difficult part is not being away from old friends, but having to make new ones. The lack of daily social interaction you have outside of the interactions with colleagues is minimal.
Initially, moving to NYC seemed like it was going to be a breeze. It’s the city that never sleeps and I had a solid group of friends already there. Despite all these advantages I still experienced some bumps in the road. As many immigrants to NYC know, when the litness of the NYC summer fades away and the winter breeze creeps in through the back window, the feeling of uncertainty accompanies. As the temperature dropped, so did my enthusiasm about living in NYC. I began to reevaluate why I made the move.
I was waking up before sunrise and leaving the office well after the sunset—talk about depressing. It felt like all I did was work, eat, and sleep. Hanging out with friends had reduced to about once a week at best. After a couple of months, my mind was consumed with thoughts like, “What is life?”, and “Is this the what the ‘real world’ is like?”. After a senior year filled with finesse and fun, my life was now composed of hard work and headaches.
With the cold weather keeping me indoors some nights, I had time to think about what was missing. Was it summer? Had the winter robbed me of my joy? After some self reflection I came to the conclusion that it was indeed the winter season that altered my mood. Refusing to accept this reality until April, I committed to being more lit. I would not let the winter steal my shine. Shortly after putting this “be lit” hypothesis to the test, I realized it was flawed. Limiting fun to Friday and Saturday created a pressure to go out every weekend and for those weekends when I wanted to chill, Sunday night and the work week became that much harder to get through.
After more reflection I realized the source of the problem wasn’t the desire to go out, but the desire for social interaction outside of work. I wanted to meet new people. By coming to this understanding, I opened up an entire world of opportunity because meeting new people isn’t limited to Friday happy hours or weekend day parties. The entire work week could be at my disposal.
Earlier, in the article I mentioned that some of the most enjoyable moments of college were random times spent with friends during the school week. This same experience could be recreated by going to different events on a weekly basis. I started venturing for new events by searching topics that were interesting to me on Eventbrite, like entrepreneurship and investing, to see if any cool events were happening in my area. I ended up going to an event on Intrapreneurship—entrepreneurship within a large firm—on a Wednesday evening where I met great people, including the originator of the word Intrapreneur. In sharing my excitement with my friend Danny and he suggested also searching for events on Meet-up.com. This opened a door of new opportunities!
Attending these events improved my overall quality of life. I no longer spent the entire week waiting for Friday and Saturday to enjoy myself. I found my weekday enjoyment had improved tremendously with the new events that I attended. This also ended up relieving some of the pressure from needing to go out every Friday and Saturday.
Regardless of if you moved to a new city or stayed in the same city as your best friends, many of us have the desire to enhance our social life. Below I have included my approach for increasing my social interaction on a daily basis.
- My interests: After college it’s easy to get caught up with life and drop some of the hobbies you enjoyed while in school. The first step to increasing your social interactions is determining what interests you could connect with individuals over, whether it’s dance, architecture, poetry, entrepreneurship, etc.
- Find events: Go on Meet-up.com and search for your interests to find an event that is happening in your area. Some additional sources for events are Eventbrite, Facebook, GroupMe, Slack, newsletters of interesting blogs or companies, college alumni associations, etc.
- Meet one cool person: Attend an event with the goal of meeting one person you think is cool. Most events are structured for you to connect with the other individuals in the room. If you are not the extremely social type, don’t feel the pressure to talk to everyone. All you need is one. Also, realize that some events may be a hit and others may not, but the key is to keep trying.
- Every person is a new door to a different world: What other events do you attend? When you find that one person you connect with, ask this question because it can open the door to a world of opportunities. That person could be very connected and can inform you about similar events. I’ve practiced this many times and it’s often led to some great opportunities. Once when I asked that question, I was invited to an event happening the next day and at that event I met one of my mentors. By asking this question, I gained a mentor and a new friend. The reason this question is important is because relationships aren’t built overnight. What I’ve found is that it can take 3-4 interactions with someone to transition from a LinkedIn connection to a Facebook friend. This tactics ensures that you run into each other again.
- Be consistent: Going to one event isn’t enough. If possible find a Meet-up that is weekly. A few months ago I found a Meet-up event, Meet Investors, Present Deals, which happens every Tuesday. It’s dope! I’ve met so many great people and learned so much from going. Recently at the event I met the founders of Goalcast, a platform designed to provide the tips, motivation, and inspiration to reach your goals. I mentioned that I blog and I ended up getting one of the founders personal email, and a week later my article was published on their website. After this interaction, one of Eric Thomas’ (motivational speaker) comments resonated with me. “If you are not where you want to be in life, you haven’t met the right person yet.” I realized that people are more accessible than you think. You just have to be in the right spot. Consistently going to events will increase your chances of being in the right spot.
Nonetheless, whether or not you are living in a new city or in the same city as all of your best friends, I would encourage everyone to set a goal of going to at least two events a month and for the bold, one event a week. Like Kelly McLeod said, “New people can help you discover things about yourself and open your eyes to things, new ideas, hopes, dreams, and opportunities.”