One of the secrets to success in life is having a web of friends and associates. I’ve moved around a fair amount in my life, and one thing that my friends have noticed is that I quickly get to know a large number of people within a short time after moving to a new city. In fact, it seems that I know more people within days of my arrival in a new city than most of my friends who have lived there for years.

How does this work? And how can you can learn and use this yourself? It certainly helps to have an outgoing personality. However, if you implement the following steps, you stand to get results in leaps and bounds beyond what you have been getting so far. The following protocol works especially well if you’ve just landed in a brand-new city, knowing hardly anyone at all. If you’ve lived someplace for a little while, you just have to pretend like you’re a newcomer and implement the same steps.

Step 1: Have an attitude of openness and interest

First, it’s important to internalize the key determinant of your social success: an attitude of openness and interest. People tend to find interested people interesting. If you show genuine interest in the people you meet, they tend to reciprocate by showing genuine interest in you. Also, an attitude of openness generally works better than one of “I wonder what I can get out of this person.” If spiritual law says that the world tends to reflect your attitude back to you, then if you approach a person thinking how you can enrich the person’s life, you tend to get that back in return.
Step 2: Honor all invitations

An invitation is an act of humility. Someone has opened his door and heart to you and has requested your company. Honor that. An invitation is a gift in an intangible form and should be treated with the same amount of reverence and consideration that a tangible gift merits.

Let me elaborate a little bit on what I mean by accepting all invitations. The event could be anything: a birthday party, a dinner, a baby shower, a professional networking event, a gallery opening, a free event, or a pay event. Show up. There will be times when you don’t know the host very well. Show up. There will be times when the event seems a little too far away. Show up—you just never know who else is going to be there and what could happen. Get the machinery of fate in motion. At other times you may feel that you won’t know many people at the event. That means you should show up—if you avoided meeting strangers, you’d stay in your living room for the rest of your life. Remember that there are only two kinds of people: friends and future friends. And if you said you would show up, show up, even if you don’t fully feel like it at the last minute. Be impeccable with your word because your word is your honor.

Of course, there will be times when you have conflicts and can’t attend the event, and that’s acceptable. Decline politely, express your regrets, and do your best to attend the next event.

Step 3: Honor all contacts

Now that you’ve shown up, you’ll speak to a variety of people. Some may not initially catch your attention. That’s okay—honor the contact anyway. If you speak to someone, no matter how briefly, exchange contact information with that person, making sure to get his or her e-mail address. Each friend you make increases your potential for meeting even more people, so be inclusive. Nobody has enough friends, and you’re no exception.

Step 4: Follow up on all contacts

Now you have e-mail addresses from a bunch of people. Most people wait until there’s something pertinent to contact that person about. And 99 percent of the time, that means they will never contact that person again. Not you. You will send a note to all the people that you meet within 48 hours of meeting them. I prefer to do it the day after, just because that way I know I’m not missing anyone, and I’ll remember them well. If you wait a week, you will usually forget entirely, and after that they may not remember who you are. So do it the next day. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy—just say it was nice meeting them, mention something about your conversation, and close by saying that you look forward to keeping in touch.

Step 5: Give back

Now that you have accepted all these fabulous invitations, it’s time to issue some of your own. The absolutely best way to do that is to host an event. You have compiled all the contacts you have made over the past few months into an e-mail list, and now you will send them all a witty invitation. For a big party I like to have at least 120 invitees (about a quarter will show up). For a dinner party I invite about 40 to get 10 guests. I like to throw my parties on a Saturday night to maximize attendance since many professionals are too tired to party on a Friday night. I recommend four weeks’ advanced notice for your event (and two weeks at the absolute minimum). That way, people can block out that Saturday evening beforehand, and you get priority over any other events that may be going on that night.

Your party will be a reflection of who you are, so have a compelling theme. The more you make people dress up and do things for the event, the more compelling your event will be, and the more likely it will be that they will show up. An interesting aspect of human psychology is that the more effort people have to put in to attend your event, the more committed they will be to attending, and the more they will enjoy it once they show up. Two concurrent themes are even better than one. One of my most successful events was when guests were asked to dress in pajamas and bring a funny poem.

So be open, show up, meet, follow up, and give back. Like everything else in life, the more you participate and give, the more you can expect to meet new people and expand your social circle.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit http://www.selfgrowth.com/greatways2.html.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Alex Benzer is the author of The Tao of Dating: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Success With Women and the companion booklets The Tao of Sexual Mastery and The Tao of Social Networking. His works blend Eastern wisdom and Western science to create spiritually oriented, practical guides to greater fulfillment and success. Dr. Benzer has degrees from Harvard, Cambridge, and UC San Diego School of Medicine and is a clinical hypnotherapist in Los Angeles. The aforementioned works are available at http://www.thetaoofdating.com. The Tao of Dating for women is expected in summer 2006. Dr. Benzer can be reached at ab@thetaoofdating.com