How to Make New Connections

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Chelsea Francis, founder of the monthly #ATXconnectionmixer meet ups, shares five helpful tips for those who want to grow their network. 

By Madison Matous, Photos by Chelsea Francis 

Moving to a new city, especially one where you don’t know anyone, can be intimidating. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to meet new people, but sometimes the biggest obstacle is simply getting up the courage to put yourself out there.

When Chelsea Francis moved to Austin in early 2015, she immediately got to work making connections by reaching out to people she followed on Instagram and asking if they’d like to get coffee. Slowly but surely, she planted her roots in this city and now helps others make their own connections through the #ATXconnectionmixer she hosts every two months.

Chelsea Francis

“Several people weekly reach out to me and ask if I know anyone who is hiring or if I would want to talk about how they just moved to Austin,” Francis says. “I wanted a practical place to point people to and say, ‘This happens every two months. Come to this and you’ll meet people, potential employers or potential connections, and you will meet people who are doing the same thing you are and you’ll get to start your own kind of community.’ ” Attending meetups or mixers is one way to meet new people, especially if you’ve just moved to town. Here, Francis shares ve rules of thumb to follow to help grow your network. To learn more about Francis’ #ATXconnectionmixer, visit chelsealainefrancis.com/mixer.

  1. Strike up a conversation in a public place. Admittedly, this might be more difficult for some than for others, but Francis recommends starting small. Chatting with your barista or complimenting a woman on what she’s wearing are two great ways to start a conversation. “Generally, people are really complimented by that and are willing to, at the very least, have a conversation with you,” Francis says.
  2. Don’t work from home. For the growing constituents who make up Austin’s freelance and remote workforce, Francis suggests moving your workplace from the couch or kitchen counter to a local coffee shop. “Especially if you work for yourself…a good way to [meet new people]is to go work at a community table at a coffee shop,” Francis says. The pay- off: You may just meet and connect with other remote workers.
  3. Move online conversations of ine. “Don’t be afraid to reach out to people on Instagram and say hello. I made several of my friends that I’m still good friends with today that way,” Francis says. Of course, you should take the necessary precautions when doing so. Francis recommends meeting people you feel you know well and have interacted with for at least the past six months, whether through liking or commenting on their posts.
  4. Get involved with local organizations or charities. “Volunteering is a great way to meet new people,” Francis says. You’ll already have a common interest (for instance, cats and dogs if you’re volunteering at an animal shelter) with the people you meet, which is helpful in starting a conversation.
  5. Follow up. “I tell everyone [attending an #ATXconnectionmixer]to bring business cards and to exchange them only with people that you have had a good conversation with. Otherwise, you’ll just waste a bunch of business cards,” Francis says. Exchangng business cards and actually taking the next step to get in touch after the initial meeting is a great way to build up those connections into meaningful professional and social relationships.
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