I found the best way to network and make new friends. The process of cutting through the small talk and insecurities of meeting new people can all be stream-lined with one simple trick...
Make sure you're in a hot tub when meeting new people!
Last night, I went to the hot tub in my apartment complex to relax after a long day. I got to the hot tub when there was no one there. I thought it was going to be a tranquil space to unwind and perhaps meditate on the previous week. After about 15 minutes of relaxation two ladies came into the hot tub with the same intentions of relaxation. After a brief exchange of introductions we dove into some great conversation about life. Maybe it's because we were half naked or possibly because of the stillness that comes with being in hot tub or perhaps both, all consideration for small talk or keeping to one's self was checked aside.
The two ladies were recently married and moved from San Diego to Los Angeles. They asked about my experience and I asked about theirs. I told them about my recent unemployment, the shot to my pride that welfare has yielded, and the serendipity of the past two weeks. I told them of my love of writing, storytelling and connecting with people. They offered up their own experiences. One of the ladies graduated law school at the height of the recession. She shared how she was on food stamps during this time. For a lot of people, I feel that would be a hard thing to share. Not for us, however! Again, thanks to stripping away our clothes and the reservations that we hide from strangers. We talked about what happiness looks like in each one of our heads. We talked about what types of contributions we want to make on the world and the fears associated with those contributions: fears of failure, fear of success, and fear of vulnerability. All things people normally wouldn't bring up in social gatherings.
After two hours of conversation, the ladies were on their way. Before they left, we exchanged contact information. These two are going to be friends for me in this city, a city that is hard to make friends. When we all joined together in the most sacred of spaces- the hot tub- we were able to form a connection that cut deep into our commonalities of being human. As you get older, this is hard to do. Everyone is moving forward pursuing different paths in life and many a time, you are just seen as a passerby in another's narrative.
Not in the hot tub my friends, not in the hot tub.