At some point, you’re going to have to get out, leaving the old hood and make new friends, especially if you’re taking your life in a new direction.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked with someone who wanted to start a new life, going in a completely different direction, and ended up falling right back into the old life patterns because they didn’t change the kinds of people they were around.
I know you’ve seen it, too. It’s like you can’t overcome the power of “the hood.” The hood represents your old neighborhood, and old support system, populated by people who do not want you to change. They want you to keep your old life and be the old you.
If you really want to break free from your old life, you’re going to have to reach out and meet new people, and if being gregarious and inviting new people to participate in your life does not come easily to you, you can still do the work of reaching out to people outside the influence of your former neighborhood (which could represent your actual neighborhood, your family, former friends, coworkers, or other social networks).
If it’s not coming easy for you, you can practice meeting new people by placing yourself amidst people you would not otherwise have access to. You can check out the events section of the newspaper, or other media to make yourself aware of events happening in your area. Pick one. Show up and set out to exchange contact information with one new person from a different hood. Then pick another event. This time meet two new people, adding one more person to each successive event. It will be awkward at first but it gets better and easier the more you do it.
Don’t wait for someone else to create the kind of event you’d like to attend. Think about being bold enough to sponsor your own meet and greet. Put together an event that will benefit others who are the kind of people you’d like to meet. These could be people who share the same interests in hobbies, career, personal growth or development, anything, really, that could be the common thread. And you get celebrated for being the conduit that connects these people to each other.
You can connect to like-minded people via social media. If you’ve already been active in social media and have it heavily populated with your old hood, think about creating a new profile, that represents the new you, and start exposing yourself and attracting a new audience.
Sharing your ideas and adding value to your new social network can be priceless. Think about making positive, powerful posts that will appeal to your new audience, and even think of creating live streaming videos that will add value and attract the kinds of people you want to hang with.
You don’t always have to be responsible for what you share or stream live You can ask some of the other people you’re meeting to share via your channel. Many people will be willing to do this in an effort to broaden their reach and you are offering a great benefit to your growing audience.
Online forums can be a good way to offer help and add value to others. It can go both ways, you can offer support and also get access to information happening in real time that could give you insight into new trends and help you to come up with new ideas.
You could access an existing group meeting by checking out what’s available in your local area via Meetup.com. Perusing this site for meetups in your area, either by the computer, or convenient phone app, might just do the trick for exposing yourself to new people. There are meetups happening around us all the time, and if you’re having trouble finding the right fit for you, think about starting your own meetup.
Volunteering to support an organization for an event or fundraiser can be huge in exposing you to new people. Plus, there’s no better way to support others without costing you a dime, if you have the time to offer your support to some worthy cause. If you’re attending an event, try finding out who’s in charge and offer to lend a hand for the next event.
If the event you’re attending features presentations by various “experts” in a particular field, if you feel comfortable with the idea, you could offer to be a speaker at a future event. If you find yourself scheduled for such a gig, try to be prepared. Acquaint yourself with your subject and be prepared to answer questions, and if you don’t know the answer, defer with an, “I don’t know, but I will find out and get back to you on that,” type of response. Remember people respect the idea that you’re stepping out and taking a chance at trying something new, so make that known from the outset, people will listen attentively if you approach them with humility and they are more likely to want to support you.
If you’re attending an event and exposing yourself to a new audience, try to acquaint yourself with the type of folks who might be attending the event, so that you’re not likely to stick out, like a sore thumb. If the group is predominantly men, and you’re a woman, you might want to keep looking for another event, or at least to be forewarned and prepared to be surrounded by the opposite sex. It might be a good idea to make yourself aware of the general age of the group in attendance, the average educational background, political, or religious affiliation, or other demographic information so that you can be prepared to better fit in.
Armed with information about what kind of people you will be meeting at any given event will give you time to prepare. Have some questions in mind to ask of the people in attendance. Asking questions is a great way to get to know someone and most people like to be asked questions because it adds value to what they have to offer. You never know, someone might be willing to take you under their wing to show you the ropes.
You want to be a sponge, absorbing new information, but you also want to contribute more than you receive. Be sure to give others your best stuff, and they will respect your contribution to the greater community. Be humble, open, honest and supportive, making sure that people know how they can contact you if they would like further access to you in the future.
If you are having second thoughts about reaching out to new people, it’s probably just your fear of the unknown, because you haven’t done it before. Trust me, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Just be certain not to act like a big shot or know-it-all. People appreciate someone who is humble, open, honest and somewhat curious (but not too inquisitive).
Once you start getting out there and meeting new people, you will find yourself having access to new information you would have never had access to otherwise, and you will find yourself making new acquaintances and friends who are the kind of people who will support your new life.
Don’t take it too seriously and look for the good in all things.