When I moved to New York City, I didn’t know a single person. It was a contrast to living in Brisbane, where my social calendar was filled to the brim with friends I’d curated over the years. Here are my tips on how to meet people and make friends in NYC:
Use social media as a tool not a substitute
While social media makes it easy to instantly tap into like-minded groups, making genuine friendships happens when you step away from your screen, power down and are “out there” meeting real-life people. I joined a few groups on Meetup to find some ready made small group events, such as a brunch club and walking tours. You could also start your own meetup group or come along to one of the AWNY events. If you’re a little shy about fronting up to a group activity, join the AWNY Meet and Greet Program, to be connected to another Australian woman in New York with similar interests.
Get out and about
No explanation needed! You’re in New York City. There’s a whole city of fun and adventure waiting for you every time you step out your front door. No one to go with? No problem. Take a deep breath and go alone with an open mind. Once, I got talking to a political scientist while enjoying a bagel in a Turtle Bay diner. A couple of weeks later, courtesy of my new friend, I found myself with a visitor pass sitting in on the UN General Assembly for climate change. Since you’re new in town and probably have a limited budget, check out these free tours.
Be a “yes” person…
When I moved here, I promised myself I’d say “yes” to any invitation that came my way. Someone I had met at a Meetup event invited me on a white water rafting trip in the Poconos, which I was a little apprehensive about. Not only did I survive to tell the tale, but he and I remain friends to this day, and our circle has now expanded to include our respective spouses and children.
…and lookout for other “yes” people
Another time at a seminar, I turned and chatted to the man on my right, who wasn’t interested in talking. So I chatted to the woman on my left, a dynamic and intelligent life force, and we became fast friends. She later confided in me, that prior to sitting next to me at the seminar, she was sitting next to someone who was similarly not interested in chatting and decided to switch seats.
Be the initiator
I found it easy to make acquaintances in NYC but much harder to take them to the “next level”. New acquaintances say “let’s get together sometime” with the best intentions, but the fast pace of NYC life gets in the way and then the perceived window of opportunity closes. Be the initiator. Next time you meet someone interesting who you’d like to get to get together with, call them a few days later and invite them to an “only in New York” event. Who can resist a compelling and thoughtful invite for brunch at one of the best new Aussie restaurants in NYC, a drink at a cosy NYC bar, or for any of the What’s On events?
Pick up the phone
We’re all inundated with emails, texts, tweets and instant messages. But there’s nothing more compelling and personal than a warm and friendly phone call (or voicemail) to say hello or suggest a coffee date. A friend mentioned that my willingness to call her was a pivotal point in our friendship and differentiated me in a crowded city where connection can feel “so far away”…cue Carole King and a box of tissues.
Know that there’s always a fellow Aussie
New York is home to thousands of Australians with our signature down to earth and friendly nature. New York newbie Felicity describes what this feels like. You’re never far away from a fellow Aussie who knows exactly what to do when you feel homesick.
It’s not easy being new in town and it takes time to cultivate new friendships. Moving to NYC in the first place is a testament to your willingness to move beyond your comfort zone. Be open to the possibility of new connections and it won’t be long before you meet new people and make friends in NYC. Enjoy yourself along the way as you never know who you will meet when you step out your front door.
Photo by Angela Tohl