Let’s face it—putting yourself out there to make new friends can be scary.
It can also be more than a little disheartening when you harness your courage and put in the effort to get out there, but don’t make a connection.
One way to keep yourself encouraged to try new social things is to choose events that have multiple-win potential—meaning, more than one good thing that can come out of them.
When you try a multi-win activity or event, you can be less attached to a particular outcome. Chances are you’ll get something great out of it no matter what—and maybe a new friend to boot!
Another advantage to all of these ideas is that they offer a built-in focus or conversation topic. If you are shy and often struggle with how to strike up a conversation, choosing one of these activities lets you off the hook because there is already a shared focus in place.
Here are five multi-win ways to put yourself out there.
1. Join a book club.
There are lots of great things about a book club.
One, the meeting is a structured event with a built-in conversation topic. If you feel tongue-tied when meeting new people, a book group could be a great place to start. You’re guaranteed to have at least one thing in common with the other attendees—the book—and you can even think about a couple of contributions you may want to make ahead of time.
Another bonus is that even if you don’t meet anyone you click with, at least you read a book—which has so many potential advantages, including learning, entertainment, and inspiring new ideas unexpectedly. Reading makes you think in a different way. You may find yourself resonating with a character’s journey or getting a great idea when you inhabit an imaginary world or dive deep into a non-fiction topic.
Book clubs are also great because they meet regularly (often monthly), giving you an opportunity to see people repeatedly over time—a great relationship-builder.
2. Go to an exercise class.
As someone who trembles at the very thought of group exercise, I had to force myself to show up for the hula hooping class at my gym. To my knowledge, I never actually learned to hula hoop as a child, and just the idea of my hoop repeatedly, loudly, and PUBLICLY clattering to the floor was almost enough to embarrass me away from trying the class.
I was shocked by how much fun I had when I finally tried it out—in fact, I was even disappointed when I couldn’t make the next class due to another commitment! (Plus, my abs were feeling it for days afterwards—it really is a good workout.)
Whether it’s hula hooping, zumba, yoga, or something else that tickles your fancy, check out the class schedule at a gym or fitness/yoga studio near you, and don’t be afraid to shop around and try out a bunch of different classes until you find something you like.
Even if you don’t meet anyone, you’re getting exercise and getting in shape.
3. Take a class at a community college.
Push your brain in a new direction by trying something you’ve never done, pick up a new set of professional skills, or revisit an old hobby by taking a class in something that used to bring you joy.
Like the previous ideas, this has the benefit of putting you into contact with the same people repeatedly, which encourages developing connections. Acting/improv classes, dance classes, and language classes are good options because they encourage you to interact with your classmates.
And if you don’t make any fast friends, at least you are learning a new skill, using your brain in a different way, developing your job qualifications, or getting out of the house!
4. Sign up for a walking tour of your own city and/or nearby cities.
A little light googling should bring up tours of varying lengths, levels, and areas of interest. You may meet some people as you walk from place to place—particularly if you situate yourself near others who seem to be on the tour alone.
Even if you don’t make any friend connections, you’ll find out bizarre or interesting facts you didn’t know about your own city, maybe get ideas for things you want to check out later, and get some light exercise too! You’ll expand your cultural horizon and also potentially learn some cool stories and conversation starters you can share with the friends you meet in other contexts.
Google volunteer organizations in your area and attend a volunteer event.
While you’re making sandwiches at a shelter or stuffing envelopes for a political campaign, you will likely meet some interesting new people, while having a common activity to keep you busy.
Plus, even if you don’t make a connection, you ARE making a difference—to the group your volunteer efforts will benefit.
Try these multi-win activities and maybe you’ll make some new friends. At the very least, you’ll get out of the house, spend some time with other people, and get something (beyond socializing) out of the activity you’re doing.
What’s your favorite multi-win activity? Share it in the comments below.