I was talking with someone the other day who had moved to Reno during COVID. Like many others, they realized that working remotely gave them the opportunity to move away from physical proximity of their job. It was a great opportunity to relocate. But moving during a pandemic and working from home made it challenging to meet people and make friends. There has been extensive research on the importance of social interaction for mental health. It helps you have a sense of belonging and security. Without social interaction, it can be difficult to feel like you are part of your new community.
Oh, how I can relate!
I have lived in three different states in my adult life. I never moved during a pandemic. But in each state, I had to deliberately find my tribe. I am an oddball in the sense that I crave social interaction; yet at the same time I am terribly shy. I have always loved to meet new people. But putting myself in situations to meet them has been challenging. Being self-employed hasn’t helped, as I don’t have built in workplace friendships. Over the years, and the moves, I have developed some strategies to meet people and make friends, despite my shyness.
Being shy, it seems counterintuitive to think that a business networking event would be high on my list of places to meet & mingle. But there are a couple of benefits to business events over strictly social events. First, there is a purpose. I am there to promote my business and meet other business owners that I might be able to collaborate with. Second, most business networking groups have a Membership committee or a Host committee whose members are specifically looking for visitors and newcomers. They will seek you out, ask who you are interested in meeting and help make connections. This is perfect for those of us who are not so likely to walk right up to a group of strangers and introduce ourselves.
As with business networking, a church or other religious organization has an inherent purpose. You are there to worship and engage in fellowship with people of similar belief systems. And like business groups, most churches have a welcoming committee for visitors and newcomers.
Recreation Clubs, Volunteer Organizations & Meetup Groups
Recreation clubs also give you a purpose. You are there to engage in an activity that you enjoy or want to learn. In the process, you will have the opportunity to meet people with similar interests. In Miami, I was actively involved in the running and triathlon community. So when I moved to Virginia, the first thing I did was join the local triathlon club. It was a great way to meet potential clients. And I found training partners who became some of my best friends. When I moved to Reno, I did the same thing and joined the Run Club by Reno Running Company as well as the Reno chapter of She Runs This Town Again, I was able to find training partners and have made some fantastic friends through those groups. Meetup is a fantastic place to find clubs relating to just about any interest under the sun, including business and religious groups.
Like recreation clubs, most social clubs have a common interest or demographic that they appeal to. Not long after moving to Reno, I heard about a social club called Newcomers and Neighbors Club of Northern Nevada With an interesting background (originally part of the Welcome Wagon organization which started in the early 20th Century), this social club’s mission is to help newcomers meet people and learn about opportunities to get involved in their new community. I heard they had to change their name because many members stay in the group long after being considered a “newcomer.”
Here’s to opportunities to meet new people, make new friends and get involved in your new community.