Let’s Hang Out IRL
There was a time when the only way we met people was offline—a time where the only way to make friends was meeting the strangers around you. There was a time where people wrote letters to one another instead of sending a text or email, and there was a time that the only photos we saw of one another was after the film was developed.
We’re a part of an era of massive shifts in how we communicate, make friends, and create community. There are so many amazing things that can come from the online universe we float around in, but we must remember to come back down to earth. To remember to look around and see that we are all real humans in real life.
Below are some ideas to inspire meeting people IRL, and ways to create community with the people who are around you—even when they’re strangers.
1. Attend workshops & conferences
The definition of a workshop is “a meeting at which a group of people engages in intensive discussion and activity on a particular subject or project.” If that doesn’t sound like the perfect place to meet people I don’t know what does. By nature, people want to be together to discuss ideas and share the experiences that life brings. There are so many different types of workshops and conferences, all ranging on different shared subjects and passions.
Of course, going to a workshop or conference alone can feel intimidating but it helps to remember that everyone is there for one common goal: to meet others and discuss topics they feel passionate about. For ideas about conferences or workshops in your city or town you can Google some that might be near you and see if there is anything that feels aligned with your passions. If you’re new to the conference scene, check out our guide to attending your first conference.
Most cities and towns also have events newsletters that are curated to bring the community together. One of my favorite newsletters is Conscious City Guide that offers more spiritually-driven experiences and meet-ups for larger cities around the world. Create and Cultivate is a great conference that tours many different cities and towns around the US, too.
2. DIY classes
Is there a craft or project you’ve been wanting to try but need the inspiration of being around others to drive the creative spark? Chances are, there are classes in your area bringing others with the same ambitions together to put that desired craft into action.
Maybe you have always wanted to try pottery—check to see if there are pottery classes nearby that you could take once a month. This is an incredible way to meet people in a setting that immediately propels discussion surrounding the same shared interest. Plus, you get to learn new skills and feel proud of creating.
3. Join a book club
This a super-wholesome way to be in community, and book clubs allow for people to really open up about thoughts and feelings that may come up while reading. Book clubs can help people share more intimate emotions on topics that wouldn’t normally be shared in network-driven settings. Plus, they’re wonderful for more introverted types, because a book club offers structured socializing.
If the club is hosted at someone's home, the intimate setting can allow for deeper conversation and a chance to get to know people easily. They’re typically hosted monthly, offering the chance to continue connecting with the same people over and over again. If you don’t have anyone in your immediate circle who has either started one or is already going to one, Meetup is a good place to start to see if there are any in your area. Bookstores are another great resource to find local book clubs.
4. Host a dinner and have friends invite friends
Hosting a dinner is an intimate way to spend time with friends, create community, and can be a non-intimidating way to make new friends. Set the tone by making the dinner a pot-luck where everyone brings their own favorite dish. This creates an easy ice breaker: guests can discuss what dishes everyone brought and why.
Encourage your friends to extend the invitation to those in their network that you may not know. Creating an environment for everyone to get to know each other is key here; have some get-to-know-each other activities planned during the dinner to help everyone come out of their shell. If it all goes well, consider making it a monthly supper club that can be hosted at different people’s homes.
5. Travel & travel group experiences
Travel is such an incredible way to meet new people and make lifelong friends—plus, there are so many different ways to travel. One structured approach to exploring new places and making new friends is to go on a group travel expedition. Consciously Connected Travel crafts experiences that offer the chance to meet locals in the community along with other travelers. Whether it’s a yoga retreat, business retreat, or a group travel excursion, this is a great way to make the trip about meeting new people just as much as the new adventure.
If you are traveling with a partner or spouse, make conversation with people on the plane, hotel pool, restaurants—wherever you wind up, make an effort to converse with the strangers around you. If you are solo traveling, it’s okay to be guarded (especially if you are solo traveling as a woman), but don't miss out on meeting people throughout your adventure. You can even strike up a conversation with someone when asking for directions.
6. Meet your neighbors
This sounds like an easy one, and sometimes it can be. But more often than not, we keep to ourselves and the only conversation that we have is a quick hello when we see our fellow neighbors.
Make an effort to actually talk and get to know the people who live closest to you. If everyone has different schedules and it’s hard to connect, consider hosting a neighborhood mixer at a park nearby. If you have space, invite your neighbors to your house and get to know them. Not only can neighbors become close friends, it also helps build community.
7. Talk to your bartenders & baristas
Let’s face it: buying a cup of coffee in the morning or grabbing a beer after work sparks joy—even for just a moment. Why not include the person who is bringing this momentary joy into your life and maybe get to know them. Especially if it’s someone you see often.
Start with getting their name (after all, they probably know yours). Then follow with an easy question, like where they are from. You never know where the conversation will go, and studies show that talking to baristas and bartenders does in fact increase happiness.
We live in a world where we can feel isolated and majority of our socializing takes place online. The irony of this is that we are constantly surrounded by people in real life (even if you live in a small town, people are pretty hard to avoid.)
Aim to find ways to help get out of your comfort zone and go the extra mile to meet those around you, you never know who you might meet if you take the chance to start a conversation.
Courtney Jay Higgins is the Associate Editor at The Good Trade. She is also a Yoga Instructor, vegetarian, wellness and fashion enthusiast. Originally from Colorado, her soul found California when she came to get her degree in Visual Communications at the Fashion Institute Of Design & Merchandising. She has a background in telling a story through writing, creative direction and content creation. Check out her blog and Instagram for her unique perspective on the mergence of fashion and spirituality.