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How to create a social circle as a freelancer

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.

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Freelancing means having many stressors that someone with a typical job doesn’t understand. They don’t know what it’s like to deal with an overbearing stickler of a client. They’ve never felt the pain of not getting paid or chasing down an invoice. And what do they know about shopping for health care, buying insurance, and setting up their own retirement plans?

On top of all that, being a freelancer can get really lonely if you don’t emphasize being around people you enjoy. You don’t have cubicle neighbors. You don’t have your work buddy right down the hall. And other than talking to clients and finding work, you don’t have anything forcing you to interact with other people.

Studies prove that being lonely makes us feel terrible. It’s bad for our mental health, physical health, and overall well-being. It increases depressive symptoms and the likelihood of mood disorders. And it can be the difference enjoying or hating life.

Do you ever sit on your couch watching Netflix on a Saturday night wishing you had people hitting you up? Do you want weekends full of adventures with friends? Even if you just want someone who gets you, listens to you, as has your back when you need it, then I know how you feel.

I’ve been there. When I moved to a new city I had never been to, and I didn’t have the opportunity to make new friends at work, I went through a tough time. Although I tried to meet new people, I didn’t have any success. I went to bars, coffee shops, the downtown plaza, and even malls. I would talk to some people, but I could never turn any of them into friends.

Luckily, after a few months, the stars aligned and I found a way to meet people the right way, where I could actually become friends with them. Shortly after, my life was packed with camping trips, hiking adventures, dinner parties, and your typical nights out on the town. I finally got what I was looking for.

The good news is that this is something you can learn, and it’s not nearly as difficult as walking up to a stranger, starting a conversation, and getting them to like you. On top of that, the people you meet will be the type of people you want to get to know.

The 3 Steps to Finding New Friends as a Freelancer

If you want to be able to make new friends whenever and wherever you want, following these three steps will greatly improve your chances.

Step 1: Know what you want.

There are two parts to this step. The first part is about knowing who you are and what you like doing. Answer these questions:

What do you enjoy doing? What do you enjoy learning about? What are new things you’d like to try or learn? What’s the number one thing you’d like to accomplish?

For me, it might look like this: I enjoy surfing, hiking, exploring, and learning new things from people. I enjoy learning about psychology, social skills, marketing, business, history, and historical/iconic people. I’d really like to try hot yoga, camping (where I find the spot), and mountain biking for the second time. The number one thing I’d like to accomplish is having a business that is scalable and can help more people than I can with one-on-one work.

Of course, the list can (and should) be much longer because there are so many other things I enjoy and would love to do.

Next, you want to know what you want out of your friendships. Everyone will have the general desires like having people who are there for you, who are trustworthy, who listen well, who are funny, etc. But what is it you want to do with your new friends?

As a freelancer, maybe you design websites and you have an awesome idea for a side business. Do you want to meet someone who shares your same passion and could be a potential business partner? Maybe you want friends who will want to go out with you on weekend nights to have some drinks and let loose. Or maybe you want someone to show you new hiking spots or go running with you on the weekends.

Once you’ve done both of those, you’re ready for step two.

Step 2: Find the right places to meet people.

Where you choose to meet people is possibly the most important part of this process. It will determine how likely they are to be a good fit for you and whether they are going to be interested in getting to know you too.

That’s why you want to meet people at Consistent Social Groups (CSGs). These are groups where the same people attend regularly, you’re forced to interact with the other members, and you’re doing something you enjoy.

A CSG could be a beach volleyball team, a volunteer group for the animal shelter, a group of runners who get together on Saturday mornings, a book club, a photography class, or even a mastermind for website designers.

You can find these groups on the internet by searching for “[activity] group in [location].” You can go on to search for groups in your area. You can go to local shops, like a running shoe store, and ask the people working there if they know of any running groups. Or, you can get creative and think of other places you could find these potential groups.

A crucial component of this is that the group and people meet regularly. So instead of joining a one-time cooking class, join an 8-week cooking class series that meets once a week. Although that might be expensive, there are many groups that are free so don’t let that hold you back.

Step 3: Introduce yourself.

This is often the easiest yet most overlooked step in the process. But that is such a mistake.

Once you join and show up to your first group meetup, you need to introduce yourself to people. Understand that getting on a first name basis is an absolute must if you want to become their friend. You want them to see you as someone they know, not as “that guy over there.”

I’ve found two ways to do this easily. You can walk right up to them and introduce yourself. Since both of you are part of the same group-activity, they’ll be receptive to your introduction. They should return the favor and you can dive into a conversation.

The other way is to ask a question based on the situation before introducing yourself. Here are some examples:

“Hey, I’m looking for the Wolf Pack soccer team. Am I in the right place?” They respond. “Awesome, I’m Rob by the way. Nice to meet you.”

“Hey there. Have you ever taken design classes like this before?” They respond. “Me neither. I’m Rob by the way. Good to meet you.”

On top of getting their first name, you’ll want to remember and use it. If you step aside to meet some other people then come back to them, you want to be able to restart the conversation with their name, like, “Hey Jeff, what position are you looking to play?”

Lastly, try to shake their hand and look them in the eyes when you meet. Shaking their hand builds comfort and holding eye contact shows that you are listening and willing to connect with them on a personal level.

Rinse and Repeat

What makes this strategy successful is that the people you meet are way more likely to want to become friends. Many of the people you meet at Consistent Social Groups are also looking to make new friends, and a lot of the others are at least open to the idea. Here’s a recap of what to do:

  1. Know what you want
  2. Go to the right places
  3. Introduce yourself

Follow these three steps, and you’ll be on your way to making new friends.

Rob Riker helps people create amazing relationships and fill their social circle with truly great
friends – the type that always have your back, even if you just moved to a new city. Learn more at Want more? Get my free 8-lesson email course Making New Friends The Easy Way and learn how you can make new friends this month.