5 Ways to Expand Your Friend Circle and Professional Network

It can be hard to meet people outside of work, especially if you are working 40 hours per week or more — just finding the time to make new friends can be almost impossible. This is true when you move to a new area and also if you hope to expand your current social circle where you live already. Even if you do have extra time outside of work, it can be hard to make friends as an adult.

In high school or college, we are surrounded by other people who often share our same interests, but the same isn’t always true when we become adults. However, meeting new people will allow you to have fun interactions outside of work. Meeting people with your same interests can sometimes lead to a professional connection as well, which could help you build your career. Here are five affordable ways to expand your friendship and professional circle.

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Start a book club

Book clubs are a fun way to get to know people: When you read a book together, you have a built-in topic to talk about. Even if you don’t know anyone who joins, you can easily bond over your book discussions, and often, those discussions will lead to more topics and closer friendships. Another advantage of book clubs is that people from all backgrounds read books, so you will meet a variety of different kinds of folks. This can be particularly helpful if you are hoping to expand your professional network in addition to your friendship circle. You may meet a high-level executive who happens to like the same genre of books as you do.

According to Lit Lovers, if you want to start a book club, you will need to determine what kind of book club you want to have, how many members are ideal, and how often to meet and where; there are other choices you can make if you want to be even more specific. A book club should be very low-cost unless you decide to rent out a location or go to a restaurant, because otherwise, all you will need to pay for is the book (but you can also use the library).

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Join a Meetup

If you are not ready to start your own book club, consider searching for a Meetup that you are interested in. Even if you don’t want to host a book club, you can still join one. Meetup is an easy and convenient way to find groups in your area, and there are many different kinds of groups.

You can start by searching within your desired geographical area. You can also search by category, such as Food & Drink or Education & Learning. You can also search by Career & Business, which can help you meet people who might help advance your career. This is also a great way to potentially meet someone who works at a company that you want to work for or has shared professional interests. Some Meetups require a fee, but it is usually small.

Join a professional organization

Not only will joining a professional organization boost your résumé, but it can also help you meet people who have the same interests as you and who potentially have similar goals. According to HigherEdJobs, you will then have people who can help reach your professional goals.

Your peers may support you emotionally or by actually helping you obtain a job. You will also learn about important issues that relate to your job field. Potentially, you may have access to job listings or other materials that are only available to members. Although professional organizations are a great way to network, you may also build strong friendships built on shared professional interests. You may have to pay a small fee to join.

Volunteer

Volunteering has many positive benefits. If you choose to volunteer for an organization that you really care about, you will be making a difference, and you will potentially feel real contentment. You also will meet people who care about the same things you do, which is a great foundation for a friendship.

Volunteering is also a great way to boost your résumé, learn new skills, and meet potential work contacts. As you continue to volunteer, especially if you do so on a regular basis and for an extended period of time, you will make close connections. You hopefully will also prove that you are a hard-working and dedicated volunteer, which can lead to a strong reference or even a job connection if the right people witness your hard work. Plus, volunteering is free!

Use your current network

Regardless of whether you are moving to a new area or you have lived in the same place for a while but want to branch out and meet new people, try utilizing your current connections. If you attended college, reach out to the alumni department to determine if there is an alumni group meeting where you live. Not only will you be able to bond with other alumni, but alumni clubs can also be a very valuable networking outlet.

You can also ask friends or colleagues from the area about the best ways to make friends or connections. Even if you don’t know a single person outside of work, you can still use existing relationships to meet new people. Ask your friends via Facebook or Twitter if they know someone in the area who could show you around or introduce you to friends or potential work connections.

Meeting new people isn’t easy, but trying one or more of these tips can definitely help.

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