Moving to a New City: How an Introvert Made 200+ New Friends in 30 Days

Faisal Al-Khalidi
Oct 13, 2015 · 11 min read

Have you ever found yourself asking this question?

Moving to a new city is hard. It’s even harder if you are introverted and don’t feel that comfortable making new friends.

I was in this situation a month ago when I decided to pack my bags and move to San Francisco.

New City. New Life.

One thing you should know about me: I’m not a very social person.

I’ve never been the outgoing type, so meeting new people was always hard for me. In the past, it took me months to meet new people and build new relationships.

I didn’t want to continue struggling with that when I moved. I wanted to meet as many awesome people as I could, and I wanted to feel comfortable doing it.

So I decided to change my approach to how I build new relationships.

I changed my attitude, created a plan of action, and set out to try new activities every day.

This article describes the things I did to make over 200+ new connections, in a new city, in less than 30 days.

If you’ve always found the uncertainty of new friendships and relationships scary, then this post is for you.

I broke up this piece into three sections:

Part 1 — Mindset: Getting yourself in the mindset for positive social interactions.

Part 2 — Organization: How to keep track of the people you meet, and build long-lasting relationships.

Part 3 — Activities: The things I did to connect with new people, and how you can do the same.


Part 1 — Mindset

A big part of what makes meeting new people so hard for introverts is fear. It’s the fear of rejection that someone won’t like you for being yourself.

The big leap that you need to take in order to be successful at this is to let go of that fear. Embrace the uncertainty and jump into the unknown.

I got over that fear by learning to use my strengths to build up my confidence. My biggest strength I realized, was my listening ability.

As introverts, we spend most of our social interactions listening to others, and that gives us the ability to build rapport with them. It also turns out that listening is a much more important skill than speaking when it comes to connecting with others.

When I used to talk to people, I always made the mistake of thinking how I was going to respond to them instead of actively listening. I was too worried about saying the right things than saying what was on my mind.

Take the leap.

Once I got out of my own head and started engaging in what the person was trying to say, I found it a lot easier to connect with that person. I immediately said what was on my mind, and as a result I sounded more authentic in my response.

Slowly I started to realize how powerful listening could become for me, and my confidence started to build up.

It took me a while to build this momentum, but over time I became a much more social person as a result. Now when people meet me, they are shocked to hear that I am an introvert.

My biggest advice for you is to leverage the listening super-power all introverts possess, and use it to your advantage.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” — Stephen R. Covey

Part 2— Organization

Once I put myself in the right mindset to connect with others, I needed to get organized to keep track of every new connection.

I started taking down every name, personal details, and interests for every person I interacted with. This may seem tedious to you, but it if you don’t stay organized you’ll inevitably forget some of the people you meet.

When you are doing this, be sure to keep track of when your last conversation was so that you can remember to follow up with them.

Always follow-up with someone you want to establish a relationship with. We live in a fast-paced world, and taking that extra step ensures you won’t be forgotten.

Keith Ferrazi, author of Never Eat Alone, says that a “good follow-up elevates you above 95 percent of your peers”. He calls it “the hammer and nails of your networking tool kit”.

The effort required to do a good follow-up is super easy as well. It just takes a quick email or message that expresses your intent to re-connect in the future. Here’s a template you could use:

It was great meeting you yesterday at [name of event/place]. We should grab a coffee soon and talk more about [item of interest you discussed]. How does next week look for you?

Keep it brief, show your gratitude, and always follow-up within 24 hours of meeting someone.

You don’t need some complicated tool to keep track of all these interactions. A simple spreadsheet is more than enough.

I myself use this awesome Airtable template that is a much more powerful alternative to spreadsheets. It lets you do things like add pictures in cells, and has views to show people by ‘category’ or ‘date last contacted’.

Airtable Personal CRM Template

Alternatively, you can try this Trello template made by Matt Bilotti.

“Remember, if you’re organized, focused, and a stickler for taking names, there’s no one that’s out of reach.” — Keith Ferrazi

Part 3— Activities

1. Old Friends

You can do some quick searches on social media to find out who is living in your city:

Facebook Search

  1. Type your city in the search bar.
Type the name of your city.

2. In the city page, scroll down to Friend Activity > Friends Who Live Here.

Find friends in your city.

3. Message each of those friends and let them know of your big move.

Reach out to old friends.

Twitter & LinkedIn Search

You can also apply the same search to Twitter and LinkedIn.

Search for connections on Twitter / LinkedIn.

Aim to reach out to these friends at least a week before you move. I reached out to 15 of my friends before my move, and I’ve met and re-connected with all of them.

2. Friends of Friends

“I’m looking to make new acquaintances in the city, can you introduce me to some cool people?”

Another approach I took is to ask friends from my old city if they have any friends in San Francisco I should get to know. You’ll find people will be more than willing to make these introductions.

In fact I had a friend offer to do this without even an ask from my part:

Awesome friends.

3. Alumni network

It is incredibly easy to find alums from your alma mater. Just search in Google with these keywords: [university name] + alumni + [city].

Looking for fellow Boilermakers in SF 🚂.

I did this in my first week in San Francisco and attended an alumni event later that weekend. I have met over 50 Purdue Alums so far, and I have become close friends with many of them.

4. Roommates & Neighbors

It’s worthwhile to build a relationship with the people you will be living with, and doing so is really simple. All it takes is doing simple acts of kindness. Things like saying ‘hi’ in the morning, cleaning up after yourself, and offering help when they might need it.

You can even make money from your generosity by going through peer rental platforms like fatlama.com, which connect people who have spare stuff with people in the area who want to use it — this is an especially good way to meet local people with similar hobbies and interests to you.

Alternatively, here are some creative things you can try:

I’m currently staying in an Airbnb apartment with seven rooms, which gives me a lot of opportunities to meet new people. I interacted with 20 people passing through San Francisco so far, and I’m sure I’ll continue to interact with more.

5. Co-workers / Classmates

I came to San Francisco to attend Tradecraft, a 12-week immersive training program for people who want to work with startups. So far I have built incredible friendships with over 75 students, alums, instructors, and mentors.

Tradecraft Family 💛

Don’t make the mistake of not getting to know the people you work with.

Take them out to lunch, coffee, or after-work drinks. Learn what they are passionate about and provide as much value to them as you can. These people will likely end up being your biggest career advocates.

6. Meetups & Events

Events don’t have to be limited to just industry events, you can also look for things you are interested in as well.

A great resource is Meetup.com. Here you can find a lot of cool stuff to attend.

Spend some time on the site and find something you’re interested in.

Look for new things to try!

One of the things I wanted to start doing when I first moved to San Francisco was meditation. I used Meetup to find a group of 15 people that practice meditation every week, and it’s been really fun to pick up a new skill I’ve always wanted to try.

7. Sports

It’s also a great way to unwind after a long week.

There are likely plenty of opportunities to join a sports team or physical activity club. Here is one sports league I joined when I first came out here:

ZogSports

If you don’t see your city listed on the site, try searching in Google for amateur sports leagues in your area.

I joined the ZogSports Volleyball league and met over 20 fun and energetic people.

8. Improv

The experience gave me the chance to try something new and push myself past my comfort zone. It’s also a fantastic way to meet new people.

Think of activities that will force you outside of your comfort zone and make a commitment to do them on a regular basis.

Read about what I learned from doing improv last September:

9. UberPOOL / Lyft Line

If you don’t know how ride sharing works, you share an Uber or Lyft with a stranger heading in the same direction as you for a cheaper fare. It is not only a cheaper alternative to a cab ride, but it also gives you a chance to meet someone new every time you commute.

Ride sharing apps.

Try it out yourself. Download one of the apps and strike up a convo with a stranger.

10. Dating Apps

Swipe dating apps may be getting a bad rap these days, but if you are socially awkward like me, it’s great practice for putting yourself out there.

Make an honest and clever profile and put up a nice picture of yourself. You never know when you might meet the girl or guy of your dreams.

Swipe Right.

11. Non-profit/Charity Volunteering

A great site to find volunteer opportunities is Volunteer Match.

You can search for a cause you care about in your city, and the site will match you with a non-profit. I highly recommend doing this.


Final thoughts

It just takes a shift in your mindset to succeed in building long-lasting relationships with the new people in your life.

Remember to keep track of all the new people you will meet and follow up with them to build a relationship.

It’s a lot easier than it sounds. You just need to take a leap of faith and do things outside of your comfort zone.

Over to you..

If you’re moving to a new city try this approach and see how many new friendships you can make. Respond to this article and let me know what other activities you’ve tried.

And if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area and are looking to make a new friend, please reach out to me! 😄


Help me spread these tips to others! Click the 💚 below.

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

Thanks to Dina

Faisal Al-Khalidi

Written by

Head of Growth @ CarDash (YC17)

Personal Growth

Sharing our ideas and experiences.

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