I make connections very quickly. It’s something that I’ve noticed since moving to New York City where there are just so damn many people.
I recently started a new job and no fewer than five people have remarked how many friends I’ve made in eight weeks.
People often ask me how I make so many connections and maintain so many friendships. They’re even more interested in how I do it so quickly. And it’s very simple. I’m interested in people.
This is often not the answer people want to hear. They want to talk about mirroring body language, saying people’s names three times in the first minute of conversation, and other connection “hacks.” These things might work, I don’t really know, I’ve never consciously tried them. Perhaps I’m doing all of them. (Except the names thing, I feel very self-conscious saying people’s names to them, I always feel like an over-eager server at a midwest diner.)
Here’s the thing, if we’ve met, chances are, I’m very interested in you. I’m very interested in most people. I’m also very interesting. I feel slightly vulnerable and awkward saying that in print, but it’s true. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but I probably have read, done, or seen something of note that I am excited to share with you, and I will use that as a bridge for connection.
I am a person of substance, I work to exercise my brain and expand my worldview on a regular basis. I am a middle-class white woman actively trying (and often failing) to decolonize my behaviors and thought patterns. I genuinely love learning. It’s truly my favorite thing. Followed closely by teaching. And I find you fascinating.
There is no shortcut to connection.
There is no shortcut to connection. I’m sure there are many people in Silicon Valley that would disagree and are working on an app to prove me wrong at this very moment, but I truly believe that you can’t fake interest, and you can’t hack connection.
These principles hold true for me across the social spectrum: work, dating, friendships, networking, etc. I love hearing your story, and I love sharing mine. Unless you take a genuine interest in the person with whom you’re interacting, connections will come slowly and probably at a cost.
I’m not trying to say that everyone needs to be a radically vulnerable, extroverted empath. Hell no. I’m a lot. My energy is not for everyone. And as odd as it may seem, the fact that some people really don’t like me is also what helps me connect with the people who do. However, I’m often emotionally exhausted. I’m terrible at setting boundaries, and I spend an incredible amount of time and energy maintaining the connections that I make. Which means that I can sometimes become resentful when I perceive that my relationships aren’t as reciprocal as I would like. It’s something I’m working on, and we all need goals, right?
We all have unique capacities for the numbers of relationships we can sustain at any given time, and this will ebb and flow throughout our lives.
If you would like to make more connections more quickly, get interested and get interesting. Have hobbies. Get curious about the person sitting next to you. Listen to their stories. Create stories of your own that are worth sharing. Challenge your own assumptions about who and what interests you. And then be generous with your time and energy.