Being social and having positive relationships have been proven to make you live a longer, happier and healthier life. Positive social relationships can lower stress levels, reduce blood pressure, and generally make life more enjoyable.
While for some people getting out and being social isn’t a big deal at all, for others it can be terrifying to think about having to meet and talk to new people.
Oftentimes, one of the main reasons we feel so scared when thinking about meeting new people is the fear of rejection. Think about what might go through a ninth grader’s head before starting their first day at a new high school:
What if they don’t like me?
What if I’m not cool enough?
What if they think I’m different or weird?
What if they make fun of me?
As adults we might laugh at the comparison of our social relationships to that of a high school student. But when you think about it, it’s human nature to want to be accepted by those around us. Subconsciously, we all are still afraid of not being liked and welcomed by our peers, even when we have long since graduated from high school.
Sometimes, even the most confident people still have their own insecurities. So the important thing is to stop focusing on your shortcomings and look to your strengths instead. Embrace your uniqueness and rise above the fear of rejection, and in doing so, you can expand your social circle and improve your life! [Read: 30 surefire ways to make new friends]
12 ways to have a bigger social circle
Check out our tips for adding more people to your social circle. Though you won’t get instant results, practicing these tips will gradually help expand your social network.
#1 Smile. The fastest way to make a friend, or just generally attract people is by smiling. Smiling not only helps you look friendlier and more approachable, but it also can increase your positive thinking while allowing you to stop stressing.
Smiling also clearly indicates to other people that you’re open to meeting new people and therefore propels you towards many opportunities for networking. Smiling might take a little extra effort at first, but it will definitely pay off in the end when you have attracted many new potential members to your social circle.
#2 Know the types of friends you want. Ideally, this should be the first step in figuring out how to find people who would fit into your social circle. Try and figure out whom you would actually want in your life. Think and make a list of a few qualities, character traits or interests that you like. This is important because it allows you to quickly tell if a person you meet could be a great fit for your new and improved social life.
You also have to be able to strike a balance between quantity and quality. Of course, you would like to have a large enough number of people in your social sphere, but you’d also want to make sure that you have at least a couple of deep, meaningful relationships within the people in that circle. Finding the ratio that you want would also make it easier for you to find people you’d be willing to connect with. [Read: 8 types of friends everyone needs in their life]
#3 Connect with connectors. An amazing way to expand your social circle is to connect with people who already have a fairly large social network. This way, you can meet many new people, all through one contact.
Connectors are people who have a thriving social life already and always seem to be surrounded a big group of people. These connectors are generally excited to meet new people, so they’ll be much easier to bond with.
While most connectors are extroverts, they might not have the time or energy to invest in a deep relationship with you. But they’re an interesting addition to your social life, as they can help connect you to those who are looking for deeper relationships.
#4 Constantly make the effort to meet new people. Usually, not every single person you meet will become a friend or be in your life forever, so it’s smart to always be in touch with new people – it’s like constantly having new options.
The best way to keep meeting new people is to go to places where others will be open to meeting you as well. This could be opening nights, galas, cultural events, seminars, talks and even specific networking events. These types of places aren’t always what you might choose to do with your weekend, but they can result in expanding your network to a wide variety of different and interesting people. [Read: Party networking for beginners]
#5 Establish your own value. Networking and making new friends isn’t just about what kind of people you’re meeting, it’s also about what value you present to the people that you meet. When meeting new people, one of the things that make them consider keeping in touch with you is your ability to offer something of value to them.
To put forward a giver attitude when meeting new people, you can do two things. First, you can really listen to what they are saying, look at the situation through their perspective and also offer your story or opinion.
The second way is to see how you could possibly help them, whether offering your professional advice or a new perspective. Even if you’re no expert, giving feedback can often leave a positive impression.
#6 Get online. Most of us already use social media every day. Why not put it to work and use it to reach out to old friends, stay connected and meet new people?
If you dig a little deeper into the online world, you can find tons of different sites dedicated to finding people with similar interests, thus allowing you to connect with them. Whether you join an online book club or you host a Twitter chat about your industry, you are bound to meet some really awesome people that you can potentially add to your personal or professional social sphere.
#7 Stay in touch. It’s definitely hard to keep in touch when you’ve got a super busy schedule, but sometimes staying in touch is one of the most important parts of your social life. This is a surefire way to keep your social circle alive by making meaningful and lasting connections.
You need to follow up with people you’ve just met, and catch up with old friends that you haven’t seen in ages. You don’t have to pester them on a daily basis. What you can do is send them a message from time to time just to let them know that you value your connection with them. [Read: The truth about friends who drift apart]
#8 Become a mentor. Sharing your knowledge, expertise and passion to a younger or less experienced person is a great way to meet new people, and add diversity to your social life.
It’s boring to have contacts and friends with all the same interests. So by mentoring, you can mix things up. You also might find yourself learning a thing or two you didn’t know about an individual, group of people, neighborhood, profession, or sport.
#9 Participate in group activities. Even if you prefer to go out solo, by joining group activities you are opening yourself up to new opportunities to meet people with similar interests. Most cities and communities host group activities from hiking, to fitness groups, to art classes, to themed city tours, all of which are amazing places to meet new people.
Volunteering is also a great way to meet new people and become involved in a cause you believe in. It’s an excellent way to meet and interact with people who have values similar to yours.
#10 Care. A great way to keep a healthy social circle around you is to genuinely care about those people. While for some, it might seem like common sense to actually care about those in your social circle, so many people forget to act on this. Instead of making relationships a mutual source of happiness, it quickly becomes one-sided.
It’s crucial that you always make a conscious effort to be as understanding and compassionate as possible in your social relationships. When you’re networking and making new friends, try your best to listen, give advice or offer a helping hand. When you truly care about someone, you’ll often find that person soon beginning to truly care about you in return.
#11 Don’t complain. This is truly more important than most people realize. What if you just met someone and the whole time they complained about their life and job and husband or wife, and everything else under the sun. You’re most likely to absorb their negativity without even knowing it.
When you complain, you do nothing but focus on the negative. This can make people around you feel bad. I would suggest making an effort to stay positive, and then the people near you will want to stick around. [Read: 10 effective ways to become a more positive person]
#12 Take responsibility for your own social life. A great suggestion to all those people that are looking to expand their social life is to take responsibility. People aren’t going to automatically know you’re looking for new friends and contacts, and just start approaching you.
Take charge and be active in making decisions that put you on the path towards expanding your social network and creating more meaningful relationships with the new people you meet.
[Read: 15 tips to be a nicer, more lovable person]
Increasing the people in your social circle doesn’t involve making huge changes in your life. Sometimes, all it takes is a little positivity, a genuine desire to interact with new people and some compassion to make those people stick around.
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