As we rapidly approach the New Year, I’ve already started jotting down my personal resolutions. The goals I’ve established this year are especially important as we plan to ring in 2014 at a new duty station. For us this means a new city, new home, new job, and of course new friends.
A blank canvas is exciting but nerve-racking too. I don’t know much about my husband’s prospective unit. I am, however, aware that his position will require multiple long-term field rotations and occasional overseas deployments. Not too thrilled by the prospect of spending most of my time alone, I know it’s up to me to make new friends. Especially since we will be living off-post.
Friendship is therefore top on my priority list for 2014. In her book, Friendships Don’t Just Happen, Shasta Nelson offers 10 creative ways to meet new people. I found her advice helpful and thought you might too.
These seven are my favorite. If you want more, make sure to check out Shasta’s book.
- Say yes. When someone invites you out, say yes. Even if that person doesn’t thrill you, she can help introduce you to other people. People we know will introduce you to other people they know. Go to events, parties, and gatherings with the goal of meeting new people. If you know someone who has a large social network be sure to tell her you are looking forward to meeting more people so she knows to include you in her events. Check your city event calendar or on-post Facebook page for fun things going on in your community and make an effort to attend. Invite someone you just met to join you or make it a group outing.
- Pursue a hobby. Join something that stimulates an interest, whether it is a training team for a race, a hiking club, or a book club through the local bookstore. Start by searching the InDependent Communities for a group located in your area. If you can’t find one, contact our team to get one started!
- Go to church, temple, or another personal development community. Remember you are there to meet people. Make sure to sit next to someone, introduce yourself, stay for a potluck, or attend one of their extra events. And go repeatedly. Your on-post church or spouses’ club is always a good place to start. If you’re a business professional off-post, consider hooking up with your local chamber of commerce.
- Volunteer. Certainly finding a way to volunteer is a great way to find others with compassion, but volunteering for a responsibility in any kind of group is the best way to go deeper into that community. Whether it’s offering to serve on the board of your networking organization, showing up at a neighborhood association to provide input, or offering to organize the nanny-share with other moms, your increased involvement will provide a role that requires you to connect, which makes it feel more comfortable. There are endless volunteer opportunities on your installation or in your community. Find one you are passionate about and offer your service. Contact InDependent to see how you can get involved. We’re always looking for guest bloggers and community ambassadors.
- Use your dog or kid! Dogs and kids provide instant icebreakers because people often want to start questions about the breed of the dog or the age of the child. Go to dog parks at a consistent time every day so you start meeting the same people. Go to your neighborhood kids’ classes, stores, and community centers where chances go up that you’ll meet other moms. This really works. Challenge yourself to be the first to strike up a conversation. Just like you, they are probably looking for a friend too!
- Take a class. Signing up for a language course, craft class, creative writing session, weight loss workshop, professional round table, improvisation workshop, or parenting seminar will provide you ways to connect with others in areas of your interest. But be sure to actually look for ways to introduce yourself to 2-3 others every time. If you’re new to the area, start by searching your installation’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) website. They offer endless classes and events. The workout classes are some of the best places to meet people interested in activities similar to you.
- Meet your neighbors. Most everyone likes the idea of knowing their neighbors. So be the one who helps make it happen. Whether you bake plates of cookies to take with you or simply show up with a, “I just wanted to introduce myself to you in case you ever needed to water your plants while you’re on vacation,” — people are flattered to connect. Maybe a neighbor you meet will help co-host a neighborhood barbecue or holiday meet-and-greet. When your spouse is gone your neighbor could be someone you need to rely on for help. They may become a good friend or just an acquaintance. Either way, make an effort to get to know them.
I certainly plan to use some of these suggestions to help me transition. What are some of the creative ways you’ve used to meet people at a new duty station?