You have been learning social skills these last few weeks. You’ve read and applied a section a week of How to Win Friends and Influence People and should have spoke a couple times in your Toastmaster meetings. So, now it is time to start putting your social skills to the test. It is time to join a social club to meet new people and hopefully make some friends.
I know, talking to new people is hard and going to a group of strangers is frightening, but don’t worry, you’ve already done it. You’ve talked with strangers at Toastmasters. Presumably you’ve chatted with some folks at your martial arts classes and hopefully you’ve started playing your sport, so presumably you’ve talked to some teammates. You’ve already met many new people and have been spending time with groups of strangers; there’s no need to worry about one more group.
This time you’re going to start going to attend a social group specifically to meet people and socialize. The type of group your looking for should be based around a common interest of some sort. As usual, at the end of this post I’ll post some suggestions for finding a group. I will not suggest what type of group to look for, as there are far to many and it will depend on what you are interested in and what’s locally available.
Try to find a group that meets fairly regularly, at least once very couple weeks. E-mail them to confirm the date of their next meeting and then show up. That’s all there is to this.
I know it may be frightening, but just attend a group’s meetings. You don’t even really have to talk that much. Say hi when you arrive and introduce yourself; use what you remember from Toastmasters and How to Win Friends and Influence People. Answer anything asked of you politely and don’t panic. You don’t have to be outgoing, at least not for the first few meetings. Simply be there and try to engage when others engage with you.
If you keep attending regularly, you’ll eventually come more comfortable. As you become more comfortable, you’ll naturally start to talk more. After a few months attendance, you’ll fit in just fine. The important thing at first is to simply muster up the nerve to go once then keep showing up however awkward you might feel.
You might think the others don’t want you there, but that’s just you’re own insecurity talking. The other people are as interested in the purpose of the group as you are; if they didn’t want you there, they wouldn’t have made the club public and they would have asked you to stop coming. So, show up and keep showing up. That’s all there is to it.
Here’s a few things to consider when choosing a social club:
Purpose – Find a club whose purpose you enjoy. If you’re religious find a religiously-affiliated group. If you have a hobby, find a club for that hobby. If there’s a specific topic you like to talk about or some social cause you feel passionately about, find a social group that . If the only thing you like are anime and video games, find a club dedicated to anime or video games. It doesn’t really matter, just find a place where you can socialize with other people.
Activity Orientation – Some groups will be oriented around a specific activity, others around around socializing. Activity-oriented groups are nice because there is always a natural subject for conversation, the activity, but sometimes, especially if the activity requires concentration or physical effort, socializing will fall by the wayside. Groups more oriented towards socializing are bit harder to fit into, but give you more opportunities to socialize. Either is good; it depends on your preference.
Organization – Some groups are more organized than others. Some groups will be official organizations with regularly sceduled activities; these are nice because they are easier to join and you can build a routine of attendence. Some groups are more casual; they may be irregular drop-ins or have meetings scheduled erraticly; the advantage of this is the there generally easier to socialize in, but they are harder to build into a routine of atetndance.
Cost – Some groups, particularly those oriented around an activity, may have membership costs or ownerships of the activity objects (for example, a wargaming group may require hundreds of dollars of miniatures). Be sure to pick a group you can afford to actively participate in.
Accessibility – Make sure you can actually get to the club regularly. Joining a club that meets on the other side of town where there’s no bus route when you don’t own a car, is not going be of much use.
Time – Make sure the group meets at a time when you can regularly attend.
Suggestions for Finding a Group
University Club – If you go to university or college, finding a club is easy. Most universities will have their student groups set up booths in the first work of classes, so check those out. At other times of the year, check your university or student union’s website, there should be a listing of student groups somewhere. Find one that interests you and attend.
College and Career – If you’re a Christian, or even if you’re not and aren’t averse to religion, find a local church near you with a college and career group. It will generally be filled with 20-somethings and are usually inviting atmospheres. Not all churches will have them and bigger churches will be more likely to have them. In addition, generally C&C groups in larger churches will focus more on “fun” activities, allowing for more socializing, while groups from smaller churches will be more likely to focus on Bible studies and religious discussion.
Hobbies – Do you have a hobby or activity you enjoy? Board-gaming, shooting, jogging, it doesn’t matter. Any hobby or activity you enjoy that can be done with multiple people (and sometimes even solitary activities) probably has a local social group. Google it, or if there’s a local store catering to your hobby, check their bulletin board or with the owner. You should be able to find a group related to your activity. I will be writing more on hobbies next week.
Meetup.com – There might be a group that will interest you there.
Friends – Do you have some friends that share similar interests and/or are part of a social group/club? If so, join theirs if they don’t mind. If you do this, be careful to avoid sticking to your friend. Make sure you socialize with others.
Leisure Guide – As I mentioned in the sports section, most cities have a leisure guide. Check out your local guide to see if there
Google – The wonderful thing about the internet, is if you have no idea where else to find something, just google it. if you have a rough idea of the kind of club you want
This week, your goal is to find a social club or group that interests you and attend the next meeting of the club.
If you are a university student or the group you’re interested in is off for the summer, you can put this goal off a couple weeks and join a club when it starts out in fall.
Next week’s post in the guide will be on hobbies; this will relate closely to this. So, you can also wait until next Sunday to read that, in which case you will have two interrelated goals for the following week.