Putting Yourself Out There: How to Meet New People

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Follow these six tips to seize the moment and start a conversation when you’re in a social setting. From Tonja Evetts Weimer, author of Thriving After Divorce: Transforming Your Life When a Relationship Ends

Look at your community’s calendar of events in the newspaper. Check out the gatherings within your spiritual group or with the hobbies you love. Conferences, seminars, lectures, conventions, and trade shows are all possible places to meet people. And don’t forget singles events.

Activities in all these areas are usually planned in advance, so make an agreement with a friend to go together. If you can’t get anyone to go with you, go by yourself. Knock yourself out being friendly when you get there, and do the following:

1. Do a scan. When you get to where you’re going, scan the room to see if there is someone you want to meet. If you don’t see anyone who looks dateable, talk to the friendliest person in the room to keep building your social skills. Use every opportunity to make new friends. Do not sit down and hope someone finds you.

2. Position yourself. Stand near an entrance, refreshment area, aisle, or water fountain. If you go with friends, unhook from them at some point and stand alone. Be accessible and approachable. I’ve heard people say they saw someone they wanted to meet, but the person was in a booth with four friends. They couldn’t get near the person and there were too many people listening if they had tried to talk.

3. Enter the zone. If you see someone interesting, move within talking distance and make a friendly comment. This is a critical time, from “entering the zone” to “closing” the conversation. If you get interrupted at any point, statistics have shown that it is unlikely you will get a chance to pick up the thread and complete the encounter, so be focused.

4. Think of wearing or carrying something that is a conversation starter. When you’re out in public venues, carry a book, tennis racquet, guitar, or even an empty birdcage. Wear a hat with a logo. Wear a shirt with the name of your college. These should not just be props but something that is authentic to you. The point is to don an accessory that encourages people to talk to you and makes it easier for them to be friendly and ask questions.

I once had a lapel button that read, “My Mother Is a Rodeo Queen.” It had a picture of my mother racing her horse. It always initiated questions. I also carried my autoharp through airports when I was on my way to give a concert — I couldn’t walk ten feet without someone asking about it.

5. Share something (vaguely) personal. In conversation, say something that reveals who you are or what you are interested in, but keep it generic. For example, “Before I came tonight, I had to ____” (feed my hedgehog; blanket my horse; water my basil and thyme; and so on). Statements like this help initiate questions and comments.

6. Resist wearing a ring on any finger. When people are looking at you from across a crowded room, they can’t tell which finger your ring is on. They may mistake it for a wedding ring and, therefore, not approach you.

Also, don’t wear a headset in the gym or when you’re out jogging. People can’t talk to you if you do.

Tonja Evetts Weimer, author of Thriving After Divorce: Transforming Your Life When a Relationship Ends (Copyright © 2010 by Tonja Evetts Weimer), has an M.A. in Human Development, is a Master Certified Single’s Relationship Coach and a Certified Life Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF). She is a graduate of the Relationship Coaching Institute, and the Institute for Life Coach Training. She has been a keynote speaker in almost every U.S. state, as well as in Europe and India. She has appeared on numerous regional and national television interview shows, including CNN’s ShowBiz Today. Tonja was selected to be the Dating Expert for the USA/NBC TV Network mini-series, “The Starter Wife.” She wrote a weekly column for their website, and produced three self-inquiry tests for their readers and viewers.



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