Little Unexpected Catalysts to Start Conversations with People Naturally
There were things that colleges, even Harvard, didn’t teach you. Out of college, I came to realization that personal network and social connections become even more important as I no longer could fall back on the comfort bubble of college where I am surrounded by friends that I’m very comfortable with from the moment of waking up to moment I go to sleep without putting in too much effort. To be honest, I felt a bit lost, lonely, and anxious to not be in a college bubble anymore and only then did I realize that one of the most important aspects of learning how to become an adult is to rebuild your social connections by actively reaching out to college friends, meeting new people, including people can be much older.
We all need to belong to some sort of communities and feel connected to people around us. To me, rebuilding social connections is definitely the most daunting aspect right out of college. Having wide, deep, and strong relationships not only fosters a sense of belonging but also allows us to lead a very comfortable life feeling like we are in control of living the life that we want with the right support and resources around us to manage our career and pave our future dream journeys ahead.
Networking is a commonly discussed concept but bears a somewhat negative connotation and seems daunting to a lot of people. The formal, professional settings make human-to-human interactions seem a bit forced, rigid, and dry. Traditional platforms for networking and meeting people such as professional conferences, school networking events, workshops are too formal and don’t feel as natural in enabling people to build warm, strong connections with one another.
Out of college, I accidentally stumbled upon some random events that enabled me to gain some insights into how to continue expanding your personal connections in a very unexpected but naturally, pleasantly surprising way.
Here are some unexpected small things you can do to increase the chance, or rather the luck, of meeting new people while adjusting to adult life:
Wear Things With Labels of Communities or Organizations You Associated With
Just about 15 minutes ago, two random people passing by asked if I lived in Adams house (at Harvard), and we started a conversation that ended up leading to a casual coffee chat that I will be having tomorrow with this lady who is the head of the Harvard Asian American Alumni association. This random encounter gave me a quick inspiration to jump into writing about this topic (haha). The reason why one of them knew I lived in Adams house was because of the sticker on my laptop. I also searched up the startup they are both working on based on the business cards that they gave me and it happened coincidentally that they are working on an educational start-up, which is just what I’m really interested in (woohoo!)
Phone cases, laptop stickers, car stickers, T-shirts, water bottles with names of your sport clubs, student-run activities, and college names can be very useful when it comes to sparking initial conversations with strangers. You can even land your next job from these random, lucky conversations.
Put Yourself Out There on Social Media
Since I started posting on Facebook about my interest in tutoring/teaching, I have received several messages and emails from people who share similar interests in education speaking about potential partnerships and other opportunities for me to engage in as part-time jobs or future potential jobs.
Building your personal brand online through blogging, content writing, polishing up your LinkedIn page, or posting about your interests helps people who share similar interests to connect with you and maybe you can find new friends, soulmates, or business partners!
Work at a Co-working Space
I recently visited some friends in NYC and one of my friends kept asking me to come to his working space at WeWork to meet up instead of meeting up at a coffee shop. It was coincidental but I soon realized that these co-working spaces are so helpful in building community for professionals in the local areas. They are very stimulating spaces where people work and play together and where it would be super easy to start conversations with potential start-ups working on products or within industry that you are interested in. It’s a much more effective way of networking and getting to know more about startups than reading about them online.
On a positive note, co-working space is not that costly. You can buy a monthly subscription with WeWork (in major cities), Cambridge Innovation Center (Boston) for a reasonable price. It’s good for freelance writers or workers who are looking for some motivational, fun, flexible space to work throughout the day without having to constantly looking out for new coffee shops to go to.
Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of books during my free time while waiting to start my full-time job. One of the books I read was written by a Youtube celebrity who shares the same last name as one of my college friends. Recently I got dinner with the friend and mentioned about the book. It turned out that the Youtube celebrity is my friend’s cousin and his music has been featured in some of her videos. Mind-blown. I was in shock and am still in shock thinking about how random this is.
Reading books have also enabled me to learn more about prominent influencers in different areas and motivated me to reach out and connect out of my comfort zone.
Pursue New Hobbies & Attend Social Events in Local Communities
I have a friend who is very interested in pursuing golf. He has been telling me about how he has met various business partners through playing golf. In addition, I attended some yoga lessons at a nearby yoga studio and got to meet with some bloggers. They inspired me to start my own blog soon after that.
Ceramic classes, yoga lessons, social meetups, or the app “MeetUps” are some great places to make new friends and meet interesting people in local communities.
Hang in there! Adult life can be very challenging but you got this! :D