Meeting People in New York
>> My most romantic notion of New York City is that it is a place where people meet, enjoy a few beers and have fascinating conversations. I grew up with NY stories about colorful neighborhoods and the bonds that were fostered between creative people at neighborhood bars. Of course, when I moved here, I hoped to find that atmosphere for myself.
Unfortunately, while neighborliness exists and hangouts abound, the price of living in Manhattan is beyond expensive. Rental costs have driven out almost everyone but people in rent-controlled apartments, people who bought co-ops years ago, the very wealthy and die-hards who'll pay shocking prices for tiny pads. How small? Well, there is a local business that rents portable walls for use by roommates who want to subdivide their living rooms (or bedrooms!) into more bedrooms.
Expensive rentals have changed the social landscape. Millions of people like myself love the city, but don't live in it. We use it to it's fullest, except when we go to bed.
Having a job in NYC, however, doesn't necessarily mean that we're exposed to many social contacts. Still, just by being here, we're surrounded by thousands of people and it's reasonable to expect that we can meet some of them. With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to make friends without sacrificing your rent.
Prepare Your Passions:
Identify 3 to 5 things that really interest you and study those things. Read. Become an expert in related special events. Go to those events, even if you must do so alone. This is what prepares us to take advantage of interesting opportunities and become better conversationalists.
Warm Up to Others:
Just like with any type of aerobic activity, warm up before actually taking off. Good social warm-ups include smiling at strangers, saying "hi" to people in elevators, being friendly to the regulars you pass every day and, when appropriate, saying nice things to people who sit next to you on the subway or bus.
Ignore what comedians say about crabby NYC. Social warm-ups can be done here and they'll give you plenty of humanizing experiences before meeting strangers who'll eventually become friends.
Connect with People:
- Always carry business (or "calling") cards with you and get used to handing them out.
- Carry blank "business" cards that you hand to people without their own cards as a place to write down their name and number. Where can you get blank cards? Go to a copy shop like Kinkos and ask to have blank cards cut for you.
- Attend interesting classes or seminars. During break or when the class ends, ask the group if anyone would like to discuss the subject further . . . either after the session or on another day.
- Join dining organizations like the Singles Gourmet (212-980-8788), where the purpose of getting together is specifically to meet people in casual situations along with enjoying fabulous food.
- Join associations of your interests, such as New York's PC User's Group, which hosts multiple meetings every month on subjects ranging from programming to computer art.
- Volunteer to usher at plays and other public events.
- Attend dance classes.
- Volunteer. And, if you need guidance on how to volunteer, the New School University (212-229-5600) hosts a class on the subject!
- Periodically ask co-workers to join you for lunch.
- Gain new social skills by attending wine and beer tasting classes. These are offered by numerous schools, seminar centers, social organizations and liquor stores.
- Join special interest groups that have a social component, such as preservation, photography and bird watching.
- Become active with various museums and theater groups by volunteering to work on special events.
- Take walking tours. Consider taking the same general tour over again through different tour organizations. Many times, you'll get into very small groups where conversations are easy to start up. Ask the tour guide if there's a good place in the neighborhood to sit down for a drink, then ask other members of the group if they'd like to join you to further discuss what they've seen.
And Follow Up:
- When appropriate, flip through all the names you've collected and contact the people you've met.
Pass on special tips if you've met someone with interests you share. Send "thank you" cards to seminar leaders and other speakers. If you contacted someone because of a lead from someone else, send the first person a note saying you followed through.
- Stay well informed about all your options and when the situation presents itself, ask like-minded others to join you in an event.
In NYC, everyone is your neighbor simply because they enjoy being here as much as you do. No matter where you rest your bones, your experience can be like one in a small, friendly community, except with many more things to do.
Article by Karen Little. The Bagel Cafe (pictured) is just North of Times Square by the David Letterman Studio. First published on 12/1/2003. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.