If you’re anything like me you find it hard to meet new people and gain new friends, especially when the things you want to talk about are Wash’s unfair demise in Serenity or how your most recent character is doing on that forum roleplay site you’re on every day. For a lot of people – myself included – these are not subjects that you feel completely comfortable talking about, particularly with people you’ve just met. I’m a ‘fake it ’til I make it’ type of person: I’m great at pretending to be an extrovert, but at the end of the day I’m about as introverted and shy as they come.
However, I’ve had a lot of luck utilizing the following methods in order to meet new like-minded people who share my interests. And even if you’re an outgoing person who finds it easy to make friends, these methods might shed some light on refreshing new ways for you to do so!
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1. Explore Your City
It doesn’t really matter where you live: whether it’s a big and bustling city or a small country town, there will be like-minded people who share your interests in some shape or form. I’m fortunate to live in one of the proclaimed “Geek Capitals” of the world, the wonderful San Diego, California, home to the famous San Diego Comic Con. My city is crawling with fellow geeks and nerds on any given day, but even so that didn’t make it easy for me to feel comfortable enough to meet them and strike up a friendship with my own social anxieties.
So start with your city. Get to know it, explore it, and find those fun nooks and crannies that will be crawling with geeks! Look for arcades, comic book shops, obscure book shops (you know the ones; they usually specialize in books related to local myth or the ‘mystic’). Many cities or towns, big and small, will often have a themed coffee shop or restaurant that doubles as a great place to socialize, but will also host events like story readings, cult favorite film screenings and game or trivia nights.
Even if you’ve lived there your whole life, chances are there are parts and places in your hometown that are hidden gems when it comes to geekery. Don’t be afraid to scope them out or ask other locals for any recommendations!
2. Utilize Social Media
Everyone knows how incredible Social Media is, and how it makes it very easy for people (most who have never even met!) stay connected via Groups and Event Invitations. Use that to your advantage! If you’re looking for like-minded people who share your interests, take to Facebook, Twitter etc and search for groups based on those interests. They don’t even necessarily need to be local, either! There’s absolutely no harm in joining a group across the country from you if it’s a chance to meet and socialize with new people online who are just as crazy about Supernatural or the Cones of Dunshire as you are.
Once you’ve gotten more comfortable with socializing in these online groups, start to look for ones more local to you that plan events that you can attend in person. Which leads us to our next method…
3. Look for Meetups
Remember when you were exploring your city and you found some of those fun, obscure and geek-related locations to frequent? Chances are those places also have announcement boards covered in outings, events and meetups that invite people to attend any number of things! Even at the local Starbucks next to my apartment, I stumbled across an advertisement while waiting for my coffee that highlighted a local gamer’s meetup inviting people to bring their favorite board games to a meeting spot on a local beach. How awesome is that? And did I mention it was a BLAST, even for my introverted self? Nothing beats Rick & Morty Monopoly with local brews and fun strangers.
If you find it easier to look online, there is a great website called Meetup.com that allows you to create an account and then browse tons of local meetups and groups based on whatever subject and genre you pick. For example, I follow several gaming groups, comic groups and writing groups that host a plethora of events. You can track them via a calendar, talk to people in the comments section, and RSVP for any of the events they hold… right from your computer! I’ve yet to attend a group event from Meetup that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy, so I highly recommend it!
4. Attend a Con
This may not be an option for everyone depending on where you live, but if you happen to live within driving distance of a city who hosts an annual Con, I cannot recommend them enough. Even the smaller Cons are a total blast and you are guaranteed to meet like-minded people in a wide variety of interests, from pop-culture to board games to manga and comic books. Cons will always have a great panel of attendees that vary from cult TV stars to well-known executive producers, to authors and artists and everything in between.
If it’s your first Con, take it easy! Don’t stress yourself with trying to find something dramatic to wear and just focus on taking it all in. Walk the exhibit floor, pick a few panels to watch, and soak in the general experience. Vendors and attendees are always happy and ready to talk to you about their interests, so don’t be shy about mentioning yours and seeing where it takes you! I’ve made lasting and amazing contacts and friends from Cons, because the people that attend them are there to have a good time and, most of all, to share that good time with others. Plus, it’s always awesome to meet your personal heroes or favorites in the comic or entertainment industry!
5. Start a Trend
Maybe you’re one of those “slow-burn” types of people who prefer to set the trends and precedents rather than go out searching for them. In that case, be the foundation! Grab a few of your current and established friends and a selection of your favorite books or board games and hit the pavement. Set yourselves up on a beach, in a park, or in a coffee shop and have fun together! Your chances of being noticed by like-minded people grows exponentially if you’re partaking in your interests right out in the open.
During one of the Meetups I attended recently, I got to speaking with the founder of the Meetup group I was a part of. When I asked her how this particular meetup had become so huge and popular (there were over 150 people in attendance that day!) she told me – much to my surprise – that it started out as she and her group of 5 close friends getting together once a week at a local beach picnic area and playing their favorite games together. Over time people took notice, were invited to the group, and in a matter of months it grew to a city-wide event that brought people from all corners of the city to attend!
You are definitely not alone in your geeky interests. If you put yourself out there, you’ll find the right people to share it with! Be sure to share any successes you have with finding your like-minded people in the comments!