New to your environment? Whether you’re looking to make friends or grow a professional network, these tips will help you get ahead. P.S. Stay with us to the end for an Easter egg.
30 September 2020 / By SGN
Being new in town is like being the new kid in school. You’re alone, you’ve no idea where to get the things you need and it seems like everyone has already formed cliques and inside jokes. Instead of building new connections from your existing social network, you now have to build a new one from scratch.
With #WFH and virtual meetings becoming the new normal, we’ve put together some tips that will help you navigate the dance of building new social and professional connections, even if the first time you meet your new friends is through a screen.
Finding your new work wife / husband
With the average person spending an average of 8-10 hours at the office on weekdays, we see our colleagues more than we do our family (quite the sobering thought). It’s never been more important to start building your social network from your workplace.
If you’re feeling a little rusty on your ability to expand your social circle at work, here are some ways you can start courting your future work wives / husbands.
#1 Show off your personality in your introduction email. In addition to listing your job experiences, why not include a funny meme or cute photo of your dog? Maybe you’re a fitness enthusiast looking for a partner to join you for some HIIT classes after work, or looking for café recommendations?
Sharing your interests and sense of humour warms you up to your colleagues and gives them a sense of who you are. You may even end off your email by directly asking for recommendations to really show that you’re looking to build connections.
#2 Set up one-to-one meetings. It’s easy to make friends over casual lunches and coffee runs. With #WFH arrangements, we need to be a little more intentional in our efforts to build new connections. A great way to break the ice is to be proactive in setting up one-to-one virtual meetings to get to know your colleagues.
Set up 30min catch-ups with your colleagues to get to know them and you’ll be surprised to find that it won’t nearly be enough once the conversation gets going. You can even get creative with it and set up virtual lunch ‘dates’ so there’s something to look forward to in the middle of the workday, even at home.
“You share a work culture with your co-workers, so you already have some common ground to start conversations around…Be proactive about introducing yourself to people outside of your department.” – Jaclyn Johnson, co-founder of Create & Cultivate
Join online communities
With social distancing and WFH, the days of being casually greeted by neighbours looking to welcome you into the neighbourhood has become a fleeting memory. As with modern day dating, online platforms are the way to go in expanding your social network when it might not have been possible otherwise.
Websites like Meetup is also a great way to find like-minded friends in your area. You’ll get together with strangers together to geek out over common interests and goals – no matter how niche it may be. Whether you’re a tech geek, board game enthusiast or an avid rock climber, you’ll find a tribe for you on these platforms. Eventbrite and Timeout list events near you that you may want to check out to make some friends in real life.
Signing up for volunteering can also expand your social circle while giving back to the community. VolunteerMatch is the largest network in the non-profit world helping with connecting you with nearby non-profit initiatives, but you may want to seek local apps and websites for more updated opportunities.
Aside from these, usual suspects such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram will go far in expanding your network. Facebook Groups are an especially great way to connect and communicate with others quickly. Many of the more active groups have strict community rules that prevent spam, and have active moderators that ‘evict’ errant members (e.g. those who spam with advertisements or troll with negative comments) to keep the group clean, so it’s a safe space to make friends.
Pro Tip: Google for local volunteering apps such as Giving.sg, which tend to be more active in updating its site with local non-profit initiatives seeking volunteers.
Other useful apps are interest-specific ones such as TENNIS and Stranger Soccer, which connect you to others looking for sports partners. Before you know it, you’ll have grown a circle of friends built on things you love to do most.
Finally, if you’re looking for something more casual, community chat groups are another way to connect with new friends. Telegram and WhatsApp are awash with channels and group chats on everything from flower arrangement to soccer, so it’s very likely that you’ll find a group suitable for you there. Ask around to find out what the IM chat group of choice is in your region – e.g. LINE is popular in Taiwan, KakaoTalk in South Korea and Whatsapp across much of Europe, the U.S. and even Singapore.
Be your own community leader
Any person who’s gone through Tumblr and Instagram would have heard this at least once: sometimes, you have to be your own hero. Building up your network at work and through apps is a good start, but what’s stopping you from starting something of your own?
Instead of trawling through sites and apps looking for new connections, organise an event of your own. It could be professional (e.g. UI/UX Designers Networking Session: Singapore Edition perhaps) or social in nature (e.g. Amateur Home Bartending).
When you establish yourself as the host, you become the point person to go to. This opens up more opportunities for you to be the main point of contact for other new entrants. In both professional and social settings, this accelerates the rate of expanding your social circle and empowers you to organise future events or bond the community.
With virtual events picking up in popularity, now’s the best chance to give this a shot without burning a hole in your wallet. Here’s where we segue to the Easter egg we promised: if you’re looking to plan events that help bring together the Singapore community or expand Singapore’s network of friends around the world, in any shape or form, our funding programme is here to help. We fund both physical and virtual events and keep applications open throughout the year – and you don’t need to be physically based in Singapore either.
We’re open to ideas and flexible with discussing what could work for you, so don’t be afraid to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.