Our social circles are our tribe. They provide us with support, fun, growth, and a source of love.
In a new study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry researchers found that people with fewer social ties were also more likely to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety and other mental disorders.
The findings suggest that social ties may have a bigger impact on our mental health than we realize. Now more than ever our health relies on building those real connections.
Meeting new people and connecting with them is one of the most important goals for clients at Jaunty – a company that studies and teaches people how to improve their social skills and social life.
How To Build A Strong Social Circle
Here are 5 ways to help build your social circle. These will work even if you recently moved to a new city, got separated, or are starting a new career.
1. Know your extroversion level.
This will help you create a plan, and have an aim for your social circle.
If you are more introverted, you may want to focus on building a small social circle of close friends. If you are an extrovert, you may want to focus on the same – then adding a larger social circle of casual friends as well.
Be true to yourself here. Take a personality assessment.
Knowing what kind of social circle “fills up your cup” socially is important, and usually overlooked.
The goal is not to make as many friends as possible but to qualify people for their hobbies, passions, and values. Then you can make quality connections. A person low in extraversion will make too many connections at their own peril.
How to do this?
Try to remember a time in your life where you were happy with the amount of people you had in your life. Find a good combination.
Some people are completely satisfied with 2 solid friends, 1 romantic partner, and some close family.
Some people need 10 solid friends. AND a community group as acquaintances. AND 1 romantic partner, family, and daily talks with their neighbors to feel fulfilled.
Find a circle that works for you and start there.
2. Learn how to approach (and know what to say after).
Meeting people is a superpower. This is one of the focuses in Jaunty’s social skills classes. Learning how to navigate things like introducing yourself to new people is key. Then holding meaningful conversations is essential to creating new relationships.
Doing this enough creates abundance where we can pick and decide who we want in our lives. The art of approaching is a great tool to have when you find yourself in a social situation.
Get good at saying hi, opening up, telling stories, and asking for people’s contact information. These skills are learnable.
How to do this?
Practice. Go talk to people when you leave the house. There are specific classes for this. You can try improv classes or get a job that requires you to do this and trains you. Books and videos on this are great ways to procrastinate here.
3. Be valuable to have around.
This reflects the work you have put in yourself. People should want you around because you are kind and useful in some sense. Make people feel good, be useful at a skill, or create a fun atmosphere around you consciously.
Things like showing empathy, being funny, and resourceful are socially valuable. Are you a great listener, non judgemental, and loyal? Do you make people laugh? Do you have access to things they want – or things to invite them to – or people you can introduce them to?
These are valuable things socially. Add these to your social tool belt.
Good social skills increase your chances of new people gravitating towards you. More importantly, people will want to repeatedly see you.
How to do this?
You can improve your empathy by asking more open end questions and try putting yourself in other people’s shoes. For humor you can take a standup or improv comedy class. Also , plan and register yourself to events you are interested in and get a couple extra tickets for people you may invite (there are plenty of free or low cost events out there!)
4. Host Events
One way to build your social circle is to host events. Hosting events is a great way to meet new people and create consistent time together.
If you host an event, you can invite your friends, and open it up for them to invite their friends, and so on. This is a great way to meet new people and expand your social circle.
How to do this?
Throw get-togethers in your home or backyard. Create a theme like poker night or making s’mores in your fire-pit, or plan a doggy play date! When you meet new people you’ll have something fun to invite them to. Start small.
5. Take note of people
Write down the things you learn about people so you can remember and bring up the things you spoke about later
- what their hobbies are
- what kind of music they like
- what they like to do in their spare time
- what kind of food they like
- what kind of movies they like what kind of books they like
- what kind of TV shows they like
- what kind of sports they like
- what kind of things they like to do for fun
- what kind of places they like to go
- what kind of things they like to buy
This is great for building a social circle because you can use this information to find commonalities between you and the other person. This will make it easier to find things to talk about and keep the conversation going the next time you meet.
They will appreciate you taking the time to learn about them and their interests. This creates great reasons to get in touch – like if something came up in your life that reminded you of them. Or if you had a question about something you both spoke about. You can also just ask how that thing went that they brought up last time.
How do you do this?
Use technology. You can make notes in your phone, use a spreadsheet, or have a CRM! Some people use a voice recorder. Don’t be afraid to step outside, or even to the restroom after a long conversation to jot these things down.
The bottom line is don’t underestimate having a strong inner circle. The good news is that is does not take that much time to start building it. It starts with one.