My kids started at a new school last week. As we bought a lot of pre-sharpened #2 pencils, and I mentally prepared to pack a lot of lunches, we also had to have a conversation about how to make new friends. Later it occurred to me that at some point in our adult lives, we get so comfortable in our circles of friends, and so busy with our lives, that we forget to look around and see that there are plenty of new people to befriend. Especially as creative entrepreneurs, we need to keep meeting new people, and network like it's going out of style!
Attending conferences is a great way to meet new people and better your business. But it can be intimidating, especially if you are going to one without your tribe surrounding you. Yet at the same time, sometimes it's nice to venture out alone, and not have an excuse for not meeting new people.
I am not the most popular person in the world, but I LOVELOVELOVE my people, and the use of social media has really helped to start and/or maintain a lot of those relationships. Here are some easy tips to help you make and keep friends in this crazy digital world.
Tip #1 – Stalk in a manner that won't get you arrested.
You're on Instagram. Your new friends are on Instagram. You're going to a conference – your new friends are also going to that same conference. Now you just have to find them and connect with them, and I promise it's easier than finding a Pikachu. (I'm making a Pokemon reference to show that I am hip and I know what's going on, even though I don't have any idea how to play the game.) Go hashtag crazy, find people who are going to the same conference as you – and then Insta-stalk them. Or Instalk them if you will. You won't connect with every person you see, but maybe one person posts pictures of Thai food, and you also have a strong affinity for Southeast Asian cuisine. Comment on their pictures. Go the extra mile beyond clicking the little heart. One of my favorite things to do is to write nice things to people that I don't know. A little encouragement can go a long way. It's true that it's easy to be a cyber bully because you can run your mouth with little to no consequences. But then the opposite is true as well- that you can say nice things, with no negative repercussions. On that note, why don't we say more nice things to people – whether we know them or not? What are we afraid of? Fear not! Be kind!
I have recently become virtual friends with an amazing food blogger that I have been Instalking for awhile. Her pictures are so mouth watering, and her persona is so fun and easy-going that I knew we would be friends if we lived in the same city. So now we're planning on meeting in a few months! Word to the wise: I keep my friend-making to be exclusively same-gender. I'm married, I'm not looking to make any dude friends, I'm not trying to break up my marriage or anyone else's. And I am old and wise – if you are young and cute – DO NOT meet strangers that you meet off the internet. Be kind, but don't be stupid.
Tip #2 – Be bold.
Making new friends can feel a lot like dating. You like the new friend you just met, but do they like you? How many days should you wait til you hang out again? Should you call them? Text them? Be bold! If you are thinking about them – let them know you were just thinking about them. Friendships cannot grow from two people thinking about each other but never reaching out. Then you just have two lonely people who are just fond of each other. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking ‘If that person wants to talk to me, then they would call me.' But that just leads to making you a victim, and letting other people have control of your life, at least your social one.
Tip #3 – Ask the hard questions.
One of my friends recently went to a conference and made a new friend. It wasn't an instant love connection, it took a few conversations until they realized they were meant to be buddies. Do you want to know what deep probing question she asked? Get a pen and paper so you can use this in the future:
“Where are you from?”
Mind blowing, right? There are so many great questions, just ask away until you find some common ground. Then you can go deeper as your friendship blossoms. One question that always blows me away is when someone asks me “what can I pray about for you?” Don't ask me that unless you are prepared to become my new best friend though.
Tip #4 – Find your friend rhythm.
There are some friends that you see or call or text once a week, once a month, or even once a season. You have to find the friendship rhythm that works for you and your new friend. Things get frustrating, or feelings get hurt when one friend wants to text every day, but the other friend was looking for more of a once a week commitment. Talk about it! Work it out!
I have a friend that I met one time when I was in New York. She travels a ton and is very busy, but so am I (traveling to the carpool lane is very exotic). Most of our relationship is based on what we see on each other's social media feeds. We text about 3-5 times in one sitting, one day a month, and then we're good til the next month! It's simple, it's relaxed, it works for us.
Tip #5 – Reach out and hug someone.
Whether you are a #mamapreneur, a #solopreneur, or just a #humanbeing, you need people! It is great to have a nice social media following, and to have engaged followers, but sometimes (often times actually) you need to get up, step away from the computer, put your phone away, and hug someone. Human interaction is always more important than cyber interaction. It's funny because just the other day, another mom and I were making a work date, and after trying a few dates and times, she said “we can just Skype or do a Google Hangout.” Absolutely not! There is a time and a place for those calls, but this wasn't one of them! I wanted to see my friend and share a cup of coffee in the flesh! And give her a hug, cause hugs are the best.
Speaking of hugs, and conferences – there are still tickets available for UNITED! This will be a great opportunity for you to put these five tips into practice! I would personally love to meet you, befriend you, and give you a hug and a high five.
Happy Friday friends.
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