Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Socializing in New York City

In a place this ginormous, it takes a lot to get to know people. I've heard from many that it is especially difficult to make friends in New York City. But I relocated with a goal of significantly expanding my social universe, and have a wider circle of friends here in 4 months time than I'd developed over 15 years of living in DC. No joke. Here are but a few ways of meeting people, making friends, and building a social network:

Show Up for Everything
Simple concept, difficult to put into action. But if you take the attitude of accepting every social outing offered, even if it conflicts with tonight's Flight of the Conchords episode, you will meet new and interesting people. Guaranteed. The minute you say no is the moment you cut yourself off from potential friends.

Social Networking Groups
There are a number of groups dedicated solely to getting like-minded folks together, including:
The Lunch Club: This popular group was formed to help NYC dwellers make friends and forge community. A number of events are thrown throughout the week and you sign up to go to the one that strikes your fancy. Chocolate sampling, horse racing, art gallery hops and trivia nights provide the venue, you provide the personality.
Meet Ups: Meet up groups bring people interested in a specific issue together for discussion and camaraderie. The topics can get very specific (Sample, Synth and Sequencer Meetup, anyone?) but you are sure to be surrounded by people who are passionate and outgoing.
If you know of another group like these PLEASE share it in this blog's comments section!

Professional Groups
A way most people develop a community is through work or professional groups. Take MediaBistro, which started out as a way to hold events to bring journalists together and wound up being an incredible online resource for media professionals (the company just sold for a cool $23 mil!) No matter your profession, there are bound to be associations or clubs that speak your language. Do a Google search, find the one that fits, and join.

LinkedIn also provides a great career resource. While primarily an online professional networking resource, it does allow you to seek out former colleagues and contacts that are located in New York City.

Sports Activity Groups
One of the first things I joined in NYC was New York Road Runners, a longstanding running club here that hosts the NYC Marathon. There are a number of other sports groups to get involved with as well. Join a softball team, soccer club, volleyball team, bridge circle or something else that gets you up off the couch and out and about.

Community Groups
When I arrived in town, there was a flier in my lobby from Landmark 76 about an important civic meeting. I went and was immediately connected to neighbors and others interested in historic preservation. A few months later, there was a beautification day on the block, and I got out, got dirty and planted flowers. If you join in such activities, you will get to know those that live in your area. If they share your taste in location, who knows what else you have in common

Know Thy Neighbors
It is a myth that most New Yorkers are, you know, rude bastards. Quite the opposite, as those in NYC will actually speak to you when you share an elevator or go for the same grocery cart at Fairway. Get to know NYC's equivalent of next door neighbors-those that live in your building. You never know when you might need to borrow a cup of sugar or get rescued from a mugger. While not your typical New York City activity, hold a mix and mingle in your apartment and invite fellow residents or, if it is a high rise, just those on your floor. Or ask a long-time building resident if you can take them out for coffee and learn all the neighborhood gossip.

Religious Organizations
As a way of making 'nice' NYC friends, my Dad suggested that I join a local church. While not my cup of tea, this way of building community is important to many. Being open to things like my friend Julia's Buddhist Meditation in New York class or a religious service here or there has exposed me to New Yorkers interested in being good people. So if you are inclined, get involved with the religious group of your choice, a local house of worship or a religious study group.

Friends and Contacts
Not everyone is lucky enough to have a friend like Ann to host a Welcome to NYC Brunch for you. So be sure to get in touch with every person you know that lives in New York City and catch up over lunch or dinner, even if you haven't seen them for 15 years. Fact is, they are established, know inside info about the city, and will act as a great resource. And don't be shy-they will usually want to hear from you. I've reached out to old high school buddies, former colleagues from 3 jobs ago and friends of friends of friends. I've also had the magical experience of randomly running into people on the subway that I haven't seen in ages. Be sure to get numbers and follow up!

Other Bits of Advice
If you are single, you automatically think of dating when you think of socializing. If you are ready to give it a go, by all means date in NYC. Sometimes I think I've stepped into an episode of Sex and the City! But be sure that you don't let your dating life take you away from building lasting friendships. Not that I'm not a fool for love, but you know....

Book outings far in advance. Calendars fill up quick in New York City. Whether due to work or life or social obligations or who knows what, people just don't have time like they do in other cities. There still might be an occasional opportunity for a last minute outing, but this is not a 'hey, I stopped by 'cause I was in the neighborhood' kind of town.

Also, don't take things personally. NYC is filled with busy, busy people. Social dates get cancelled or postponed frequently. Just shrug it off, get together at another time and attribute it to the pace of the city.

Finally, just be sure to reach out to others, be friendly, respectful and kind, and most importantly - get out and do things! NYC is not the land of hermits!

1 comment:

Ming_the_Merciless said...

Great advice!!

Everyone should read this post!