By David Joel Miller.
Positive social networks can keep you healthy.
Modern society moves at a fast pace. People move a lot and there are smaller families than there used to be. One challenge for all of us is how to create or strengthen those support system. Networking is just as important in your personal emotional life as it is in your professional life.
The best professional networks should include some people who you would want as friends and supporters. Here are some suggestions on how to strengthen those connections with others by making friends, developing networks and strengthening your support system.
1. Shared interests build friendships.
Most friendships develop around shared interests. If you want to make more friends go where people who like the same things as you hang out. Hang out at a bar and you meet drinkers. Go to the book club and you meet readers. The activities you enjoy are the best places to meet people who like what you do. Do not wait till you have friends to do things. Do the things you love first and you will make friends who love the same things you do.
2. To meet new people come early and stay late.
Arriving late for a meeting keeps you from talking to others. So does running off before the meeting ends. If you want to meet others you need to budget your time as well as your money. Come a little early to meet people and plan to hang around a few minutes after meeting ends so you can talk to other like-minded people.
3. Help others – get into services.
Offer to help out. Set up chairs make coffee or hand out programs. Doing things to be of service makes you more a part of the group and is a great way to meet other people.
4. Be a giver, not a taker.
If you are only there for what you can get out of a gathering you are likely to be disappointed. A selfish person is not high on the desirable list. Learn to do things for others just for the joy of giving and you will find that others appreciate you and what to get to know you.
This does not mean that you need to let others abuse you or that you need to buy your way into a group by doing or paying for things. What is important is that to make friends and supporters you need to act like the kind of person they would like to have for a friend.
5. Take someone with you.
Friendships are networks. Invite someone to go with you and you are not alone. They may well invite you the next time. The best way to meet people is through the people you already know. Make sure that the friends you hang out with are positive people. Your friends tend to introduce you to others just like they are.
6. Stay on topic.
If you are in a group that is talking about school activates do not try to take over the group and tell the stories of your last trip to where ever. Even in small-talk conversation try to share about the things others are talking about.
7. Help others join in.
The fastest way to make new friends is to help others to join in. Put your hand out, say hello and you will find you are the go-to person for making friends.
8. Pay attention to the person you are talking to.
Remembering people’s names is a blessing. Work on it. Refer to others by names some of the time. Be careful that you have something real to say rather than punctuating every other sentence with their name. Having someone repeat your name several times in a sentence makes them feel like you are talking to a creepy call-center person.
One way to develop a deeper connection is to really pay attention to the person you are talking with. Look at them and stop looking around. Looking over your shoulder for the next conversation victim tells the person that you are talking with that they do not matter that much to you.
9. Don’t cling on desperately – be ready to mingle.
In new situations, once you meet someone and engage them in conversation be ready to let them go. Having someone you just met latch onto you and follow you around the rest of the evening can feel like you now have a stalker.
10. Try to reconnect. Send emails, friend, connect on social media.
Whenever possible get a person’s contact info. Make sure you send them an email, friend them on social media or give them a call. Reach out to them like you want to be friends not like you are trying to sign them up for your multi-level marketing company.
11. Be sensitive to others needs for privacy.
Some people are all out there. Their life is an open book. Others, they are more private people. Do not push to invade others privacy. Some people keep their social media set to only a handful of close friends and family. Others have 15,000 best friends in their circle.
Know whether the person you met is open to you just dropping by or do they keep their home a sanctuary for just them and their family.
When adding friends to your support system think first about how public or private you want this relationship to be and make that clear if there is a chance that the person you just met will friend you and show up for dinner.
You will have some friends that are in all parts of your life and others that may be in only a few shared activities.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended books.