4 Ways to Open Your Social Circle... Cyber-Style

DIY

Laurel Touby is CEO of mediabistro.com, an online community of 300,000 media professionals that frequently throws parties in various cities around the country. She says she was lonely when she graduated from college 11 years ago, so she decided to start organizing these get-togethers in an effort to meet other people like her. "It's so hard when you graduate and you come to a big city or a small city, and everybody seems to hang out with people they already know." And if you think networking is just for college grads, think again. Laurel recently passed along some wisdom when her 65-year-old mother relocated to North Carolina, where she knew no one. Laurel recalls, "I told her to become a regular somewhere -- at the gym, the local cafe, a professional organization. In order to meet other people like you, you have to do things you like to do." She says, "Get out of your house. Get out of your office. If you're interested in film, volunteer for a film festival. I formed a network of media professionals because, if you follow what you love, you'll find others like you there."

Diane Darling, author of The Networking Survival Guide: Get the Success You Want by Tapping into the People You Know (McGraw-Hill, 2003), agrees. She says her theory of why women sometimes struggle to meet new people uses a sports analogy: "Men have been involved in sports for longer, so they're used to going on the field, trying, failing and then trying again. Women, on the other hand, are perfectionists. We've been socialized to do it nice and to do it pretty, but that's not [how it works]. You're not going to succeed until you try." So what does she suggest? "Always introduce yourself to people, attend forums where it may not be something that's an obvious match for you but might be a place where you might meet people. Get out there and try it."

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