Everyday I schedule time to respond to questions on Twitter and Facebook. It’s a very interesting part of my day because I never know what I’ll be asked. The questions range from what you would imagine is typical: “Do all men cheat?” While some are more outrageous and crazy: “Paul, what do you do with your clipped toe nails?” (Answers: 1) the most extensive studies on infidelity and marriage suggest the majority of men do not cheat. 2) I collect my nails in a silk satchel and put them under my pillow at night… just kidding!)
Recently, something stood out in the questions. Several people asked, “How can I meet someone new?” I found this interesting because normally I get the question of “Where can I meet someone new?” Typically it’s not “how.” For the record, I like “how” much better because there’s not one spot where you can absolutely find a partner.
The key to meeting “the one” is in the expansion of your social circle. It’s important to remember that the number one way, over the last 100 years, that women and men meet for marriage has been through family and friends. And, while you can’t expand your family, you can expand your friendship circles.
The following are well-researched ways to expand your social circle and therefore give yourself the highest likelihood of finding the one.
Join A Sports Team
I’m not asking you to tryout for Jay Z’s Brooklyn Nets. I’m simply suggesting you get active in an organized way. Tip: don’t join a team in your city — participate in a neighboring town so you can network with people you don’t know.
Make Eye Contact and Smile
If you walk around with a frown or distant eyes, people are less likely to approach you and be receptive to your friendship. No mean muggin’!
The Harvard Business Approach
There’s an interesting article in Harvard Business Review called “How to Build Your Network.” It describes a very innovative process I currently use: After you identify your key contacts, think about how you first met them. In the center column of the work sheet, write the name of the person who introduced you to your contact (if you met the person yourself, write “me”). This column will reveal the brokers in your network and help you see the networking practices you used to connect with them. These are the people you already know who are clearly able and willing to help you branch out. They should be the first people you call and where you invest a disproportionate amount of your time and energy.
Introduce Two People Who Do Not Know Each Other But Ought To
You strengthen your position within your own network when you become what is called a “superconnector.”
This is one of the best ways to meet people of all backgrounds and ages. The more challenging the project, typically the stronger the bond you will build with your fellow volunteers.
Create An “Interesting People Fund”
I learned this through a very interesting book called The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career.” The authors suggest we create an “interesting people fund” to which you automatically funnel a certain percentage of your paycheck. Use it to pay for coffees and the occasional plane ticket to meet new people and shore up existing relationships.
I believe this is the single best social media platform to platonically expand your social circles. Test out my theory and go try it.
Talk to People
You can join a sports team, volunteer, or go to church but you still won’t make new friends if you don’t actually talk to them. Don’t be shy, people don’t bite…well, some of us do but unless you’re talking to Mike Tyson, you’re probably safe. Don’t be too picky. Most conversations will be a dead-end of sorts, when you may never talk to that person again, or you just remain acquaintances—but once in a while you’ll actually make a friend.
Reconnect With Old Friends
Now, I’m not talking about your girl that double-crossed you and stole your boyfriend four years ago. I’m talking about actual good friends that for one reason or another you lost touch with over the years. In a great book titled Dormant Ties: The Value of Reconnecting, the authors argue that getting back in touch with people is the most overlooked and underutilized source of building social capital.
Give these a try and keep me posted on your progress!