Creating a sense of community and belonging can be a transformative journey. For many of us, the idea of building connections as adults might seem daunting, especially when social anxiety, neurodivergence, and other challenges come into play.
Over the years I’ve moved around a lot – first from Pakistan to the US, and then all around Massachusetts. Though I tend to be really solitary most of the time (autism), I also crave human connection (ADHD), so I’ve had to construct social structures that work around my unique framework such as needing frequent breaks, getting anxious in social situations, and being in pain all the time.
The Paradox of a Socially Anxious Extrovert
I struggle without systems, so over the years I’ve built a system of relationship building that is built on a few core principles. When I was in sales, I used these same principles to grow my network and my business, and ultimately used it in my Roadmap to Success Framework.
It’s creating connections is built on a few core principles:
- The Way of Absolute Candor: Embrace your quirks and limitations, be honest with yourself, and devise strategies to manage challenging situations.
- Plan AheadPreparation is key. Know your escape routes, bring comfort items, and have a list of questions ready to engage in conversations.
- Curiosity is a Gift: Develop genuine curiosity about people. Engage with their interests and find common ground to cultivate connections.
- Love Yourself: Overcome the fear of rejection by nurturing self-love and acceptance. This journey may take time, but it’s critical for building authentic connections.
- Events as Learning Opportunities: Every interaction is an opportunity to understand your needs and refine your approach. Reflect on what works and what doesn’t.
Exploring Interests and Finding Your Community
Do ONLY the things that you like doing. Seriously. There is no “shoulding” here. Don’t go to these events because you feel like you should. Go to these events because you see them as the solution to a problem that you have. Only you know why you want to make friends, so pick events, places, and topics that appeal to the people who will scratch that itch.
- Business Networking: Explore networking groups that resonate with your values and preferences, whether you’re seeking business connections or simply expanding your social circle.
- Regional Conferences and Events: Seek out events that cater to your region and interests. These gatherings provide opportunities to meet new people and expand your horizons.
- Hobbies and Crafting: Participating in crafting or gaming activities can lead to connections based on shared interests. Look for local studios or events that cater to your hobbies.
- Mindfulness and Mental Health: Attend local workshops and sessions focused on mindfulness and mental well-being. Connecting with others who prioritize personal growth can be enriching.
- Local Learning Opportunities: Keep an eye out for workshops, classes, and seminars that align with your interests. Learning together can foster connections.
- Creating Your Own Events: If you have a unique skill or interest, consider organizing your own event. Bringing people together can lead to meaningful connections.
The Power of Going Slow
Building connections takes time and patience. Rather than overwhelming yourself with a flurry of activities, take small, consistent steps. Just like tending to a garden, nurturing relationships requires steady care and attention. By focusing on quality interactions over quantity, you can create deeper, lasting connections that enrich your life. (If you struggle with doing that, then you can check out my conversation with Tanessa Shears in Episode 70!)
A Journey Worth Embracing
To delve deeper into how rewarding these kinds of connections can be, check out the full podcast on Buzzsprout (or your favourite podcast app!) Through these shared experiences, you’ll discover that anyone can build a community, and that the journey itself is a rewarding and transformative process.
Resources & Links
- South Shore Conference for Women
- South Shore Women’s Business Network
- Women’s Success Network
- She Breathes
- She’s Local