Building a social circle from the ground up can seem terrifying. Where are you going to find people who you like and who like you? And when you have found them, how can you develop a friendship? Don’t worry, there is a simple solution that will get you in touch with many like-minded people. Even better, with this simple solution the people you meet will naturally become acquaintances and friends over time.
The solution is joining a club. I am talking about clubs as in associations, not as in discos. I can honestly state that if I hadn’t been in clubs all my life, I wouldn’t have met at least 90% of my friends and acquaintances. Now, let me introduce you to the fabulous world of doing something that’s beneficial for your life together with like-minded individuals on a regular basis.
Most people have a hobby. Some don’t realize it, but almost everyone has a spare time activity that they enjoy. Whatever it is, you can join a club for it.
Clubs are a fantastic way to meet people and become friends with them. Take a look in the social circles of people you know. How have they met and become friends? Probably through one of these four options:
- Friend of a friend
Of this list, clubs are the most reliable source of friendships, dates, and business contacts, because you have the most control over what kind of people you meet. But that’s not the only benefit of joining a club:
- A membership is usually cheap.
- You share an activity you love with people who are crazy about the same thing.
- It’s a natural, non-awkward way to meet new people.
- Even if you are in a relationship your partner will probably be ok with you going to a club once or twice a week. That wouldn’t be the case if you told your girlfriend: “Honey, from now on I am going out alone to meet new people once a week.”
- You meet people who you wouldn’t be able to meet easily otherwise. It’s easier to meet a busy businessman during squash practice than by arranging a meeting during office hours.
- Being in a club commits you to doing a great activity on a regular basis.
Need I advertise more?
Now that it’s clear why joining a club is so beneficial, it’s time to find the right one for you.
The first and most important consideration is, “What activity do you enjoy?” I am deliberately not asking, “what hobbies do you have?”, because I meet so many people who tell me, “I have no hobbies.” All you need to join a club is a sincere interest in an activity. There is no need to be a pro at it before you join. Most people are in a club to learn something new.
Clubs want to teach skills to new members so they can spread the activity they love. They are like missionaries for their hobby.
What club to join?
It all depends on what you want to get out of the experience.
There are clubs that are all about competing. They have a strict schedule, hierarchy based on skill, and lots of pressure. There is nothing wrong with this kind of club, but for the sake of building a social circle you should go for a less stressful and time intensive one.
The other extreme is what I call “fake clubs”. In this type the activity is more or less a front for hanging out together. I was in a table tennis club for a while that was like that. I didn’t even go to the training. Instead, I would go straight to the bar where everyone met up afterwards. These clubs can be fun, but I don’t recommend them because usually the people there have known each other for a long time and just want to stay in their group.
That brings me to the third and best-suited kind of club for everyone wanting to meet new people. I call it the “learners club”. It’s a group of people who are all about learning new things and having fun. The activity itself is important in this club and the members are passionate about their hobby and disciplined with training. After the training, the majority of the members hangs out together and socializes. This is what you want to go for!
Other factors to consider are:
- Are people there friendly? (+++)
- Are they roughly your age? (+)
- Is there a lot of dominance and status involved? (“too cool for school” type of bs) (—)
- Is it a mixed group? (+)
- Are some men in the group openly hitting on women in the group? (–)
- Does it look like everyone is friends with each other? (++)
- Are people open to including you? (+++)
You have joined a club. Now, how can you make friends and build a social circle?
Easy, you just need to make sure you become a valued member of the group. You can do that by showing up regularly, helping with organizing events, going out together, basically just actively participating.
If you do that, sooner or later you will be invited to birthday parties and other private events where you can get to know everyone better.
Even though my tips might sound like there is a lot of strategy involved, actually there is not. Just go there, have fun, talk to everyone, be part of activities outside the club, and you should be fine.
I want to introduce two more ways to become indispensable, however. The first is being the connector, the guy who brings everyone together. And the second is helping members of your club with other skills you have.
A connector is a person who brings people together who otherwise wouldn’t have met. Let’s say you throw a pool party in your home. If you invite people from your club as well as other friends and make sure they get to know each other, you are the connector. You provide a valuable service to both groups and will be highly appreciated.
The skilled guy
Do you have some sort of skill that could be helpful to fellow members of your club? I am talking about things like bookkeeping, web design, repairing stuff, legal or medical advice, and whatever else could be helpful.
Make sure you tell people that you are willing to help if they need anything. “You know, if you ever need my help give me a call. I’d be happy to help you out.”
That way you are being seen as a friend. It gives you the opportunity to get to know people privately when you help them, and you can also be sure that the others will return the favor if you ever need anything.
Throughout my life, I have been a member of many different clubs, mostly sports clubs. The connections I have made there are valuable beyond measure to me. Not only have I gotten to know people from all walks of life, I have found real friends – people who I have been friends with for well over a decade. All because I was an active member of a volleyball club.
Don’t wait for friends to appear in your life out of thin air. Join a club full of great people and make connections for life.