inspiration

How to Meet People

This has been a question that I’ve gotten for years. I always find it funny because sometimes I don’t think I’m very good at meeting people. Although I’d say I’ve been successful at meeting some of the best people throughout the years, I generally feel not that great at the actual act of meeting them.

It’s one of the stories I use the most to illustrate how much the blog has helped me throughout the years and it’s particularly applicable to this concept, but until about five years ago, I’d say my social anxiety was pretty crippling. It wasn’t just that I hated to talk to strangers, I couldn’t. For the most part, I would just avoid it as best that I could, either leaning on friends to break the ice somewhere or just completely holding myself back in general. The one thing I think illustrates this fear the most was that I legitimately couldn’t order food at restaurants. I’d point to the menu or have someone else order from me. I’m sure I missed an unbelievable number of opportunities to meet incredible people over the years.

My blog eventually forced me to meet people, and now I find it nearly unbelievable that I’m the same person as I was years ago. It blows my mind that I can walk into a meeting without batting an eye to sit down with someone to pitch my brand, that I can stand in front of a classroom and give a lecture to fifty students I’ve never met, or that I can just grab dinner with someone I’ve never met.

And trust me, if I can, so can you. As I’m sure you can tell, it doesn’t come naturally to me, but I have picked up a few tricks that help:

Go places, do things // The best way to meet people is just to be getting out there and doing things. You don’t have to do “all the things,” but if you’re sitting at home on the couch wishing you had more friends or more business contacts, that’s probably the problem. You’re sitting at home on the couch. The more things you do (the gym, volunteering, group trips, college classes, etc.), the more paths you’re going to cross. When I think about all the experiences I’ve had, I realize that even now so many of my close friendships stem from them. Between the states I’ve lived in (Georgia, Massachusetts, Florida, DC, New York, and now Connecticut), the schools I’ve gone to (Mitchell, Wilson, Plant, Georgetown), the conferences I went to as a student (journalism and SADD)… I just feel like I’ve had a TON of opportunities to meet with people and I bump into them from all these different experiences at the most random, amazing times. The president of SADD when I was in middle school and I ended up in DC at the same time, I’ll run into people on the subway, I’ll end up working with old friends from high school, and the list goes on and on.

See the good // So one problem that I think holds people back is that you don’t have to be instant best friends with someone. You don’t have to walk away from a business meeting feeling like you completely nailed it! You don’t have to walk away from a date with a second date in the bag. As long as you’re seeing the good in people and keeping an open mind, that’s success.

“Have an open mind” was my motto during my freshman year at Georgetown, and I still rely on it. It helps remind myself that you never know what a relationship is going to be or going to turn into. Especially with social media, it’s way too easy to have a preconceived notion of someone, even though you technically haven’t even met yet. Don’t forget that people can surprise you.

Get in the right mind space // The one thing that changed the game for me in meeting people was being able to go into meetings as “The College Prepster” and not Carly. Even Beyonce used “Sasha Fierce” as an alter ego to help her perform her best. I think it’s something a lot of people end up doing, even if they don’t have a name/character. Now I visualize turning on a “switch” inside of me to kind of push away those old social anxiety fears.

Maybe you don’t have your own Sasha Fierce, but if you need a strategy to get in the right headspace, try this: visualize yourself successfully meeting someone. Run through in your head, your ideal introduction, the perfectly firm handshake, give the pitch of your dreams. See it in your head and really believe that you can do it!! (Or try, I know it’s easier said than done, trust me I know.)

Put your phone down // I use my phone as a crutch all the time. All the time. I use my phone as a distraction from awkward silence in an elevator; I use it when I don’t want to talk to anyone while waiting in line; and (I hate to admit it) I even use it at parties when I just want to melt into a puddle. Putting my phone down is the first step, or rather cue, to letting people know I’m open to talking, to meeting.

Reach out to people // You can definitely reach out to strangers, but if you’re trying to ease into meeting new people, work with the Rolodex you already have. Shoot that girl you went to summer camp with 12 years ago a message on Facebook to let her know you just moved the city she lives in. Have your cousin do an email introduction between you and her friend who works at the company you just got a job at.

Think beyond the circumstances you’re in. Realizing I could be friends with people outside of Georgetown was a major eye-opener for me, and I still can’t believe it took me until my senior year to figure that out. You can be friends with someone ten years older, ten years younger, from an entirely different background, from an entirely different industry. Most of my friends are not like me, and that’s what makes our friendships so interesting and fun.

I also realized, pretty late in life, that I could be the friend I wish I had. Instead of waiting for someone else to make plans or to set the meeting up, you should do it.

Put it out “there” // This sounds insane. I think if I didn’t truly believe it or witness it working out all the time, I’d think I was a lunatic. But I swear, putting it out there (into the “universe”) can work. If there’s someone you’re dying to meet or hoping your paths will cross with, say it aloud, visualize it happening, and have a great attitude about it coming into reality. Have faith that you will make new friends in your new city (you will!) or that you’ll build great relationships for your side business venture (it will happen!).

I also feel like this is important to say, but I still really don’t like talking to people I don’t know. I can do it and I’ve gotten significantly better. It’s been years since I started practicing and I still feel like I have to push myself every day to not fall back into old hermit habits.

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33 Comments

MM

Good advice! I recently moved alone to another country and since I’m not a student anymore it’s hard to meet new people. It takes a lot of effort to go out and be active after work.

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Allison

Thank you for this post, Carly! I definitely have a bit of social anxiety and it’s due to low self esteem. I appreciate you always being real and sharing about your anxieties.

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Sofia

I love this and I’m bookmarking for the future! I’m super shy and pretty introverted. In addition, I also battle with the whole thought of “I have my friends, why would I need more?”, which is a great way to just close yourself off to everyone! I really appreciate the sincerity of this post, Carly!

xo, Sofia
http://www.thecozie.co

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Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

I never really needed to figure this out until I left the comfort of high school. I was going to school with people I had known since 5th grade! I think I’ve gotten a lot better at meeting people, and it helps that everyone I’ve met in college so far is so welcoming! Everybody wants to invite you to join their club or activity or event. Something that took me longer to realise was that I need to be active in my friendships and reach out to people. I never needed to think about it before because I was in such close proximity to everyone, but now it definitely does require more intention! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

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paige

This post made me so happy, I always find it difficult to meet people, but this is full of nice tips. I hate using my phone as a crutch! I’ve been trying to put it away more often and talk to people I don’t know well.

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Leyka

Wow! This is an excellent post I will be referring back to from time to time. I’ve moved quite a lot within the past few years being a college student and then military wife. Thank you for this gem of advice Carly!

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carly

You’ve probably met an extraordinary number of people over the years… What a wonderful network to have!

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Holly

Excellent post, Carly! I too often stay home or turn down opportunities because I’m nervous about not knowing anyone and I’m not the best at meeting new people. One of my goals this year is to put myself out there more and this post has some great tips!

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Abigail @ Belle of the Brier

This post was so amazing! The part about being on your phone to avoid awkward conversations really hit home for me! I’m a senior in college now and the older I get, I’m realizing that I need to step outside of my shell and be more bold and confident when meeting new people. Mingling at cocktail parties is my worst nightmare, hahaha but I’m trying to get better! Love your words of wisdom as always!
xoxo,
Abigail
http://www.belleofthebrier.com/

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Katie

This really hit home today. I moved to D.C. about two years ago and I’ve met a few people through work/mutual contacts, but I’ve really struggled with meeting more people my age. I’m a HUGE introvert, so it really takes me reminding myself to get out there, unplug, and be willing to try new things. I took a massive step yesterday and went to a group workout by myself and although I wasn’t as outgoing as I should have been, I’m just proud that I went in the first place!

As always, you give the best advice!

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Amanda

Carly, thank you for this post! After 9 years in NYC I recently moved to SF and it’s definitely been more challenging (& more work!) than I thought to create a new network. These tips have inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and make things happen!

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Sophia Breton

I love this blog post Carly! Perfect for my new year’s resolution being getting out and doing more! So excited to start trying and implementing these for 2017.

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Hailey

I absolutely love this post! You have put it all perfectly and each really are the best ways to come outside of your comfort zone to meet new people. I need to take your advice and put my phone down! Sometimes I find myself just on my phone looking for something to distract me while in line for coffee when I should put it down because I may want to meet the person next to me!

Hailey
http://www.themiddlecloset.com

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Waresa

Love these tips! I had the same motto my freshmen year of college, and I was able to meet so many new people! I’d also love to hear the story of how you met Julia!

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Grace Atwood

Really love these tips Carly. And thank you for saying the bit about not liking to talk to people you don’t know. I am the same way. I am getting better at it, working at it… but it’s still hard. If I go to an event or something, I always find myself talking to the one person in the room that I know… and then kicking myself later for not being more social/connecting with new faces. It is one of the things I like least about myself, but some small part of me feels a lot better knowing that I’m not the only one who feels that way. 🙂

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Maina Carey

Thank you so much for posting this Carly! I am a second semester freshman in college and I needed the wake-up call. I need to have faith in my ability to make relationships more often. And especially your last tip… it does sound crazy but it works! I’d love to hear how you made friends in college sometime (I feel like everyone is already so busy with work/already has friends!)

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Taylor

Ever since I’ve moved out of the city and into the suburbs, I’ve felt a little frustrated with trying to meet people, so this post gave me some inspiration to put myself out there a little more. As someone in their late twenties, it is especially hard because people already have their established friend groups and maybe aren’t as eager to make new friends, so that can be discouraging. However, your post had some great tips and I will have to better at just putting the good vibes out into the universe!

xo, Taylor
http://www.taylorashleyblog.com

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Taylor

This was such a wonderful post, Carly! Being a senior in college, I have finally learned how beneficial and great it is to form a network outside of the individuals at my school. Being an introvert it wasn’t a simple thing to do, but definitely helped prepare me for the new city and people I will meet upon graduation. I will definitely be referring back to this in the coming year as I enter a post-grad life.
xo, Taylor

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Hallie Wilson

When I was in New York, I met so many of my friends through SoulCycle. Being consistent, going to the same classes and not being shy/introducing myself to people led to larger conversations, cocktails after class and so on. 🙂 Great post, friend!

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Diane Munoz

Another great article! I work with overachievers and super smart girls do tend to be introverts. Since that is one of the few things I don’t have in common with my girls, I’m grateful for this list of tips that helped you get through it. I’ll be sharing this with my clients!

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