Z asked me recently how I make friends when I move to a new city. “Explain this to me. You are good at making friends. It’s not obvious to me how I can make quality friendships. I want a squad.” A couple of my friends from college moved to new cities upon graduation and their social circles have not changed too dramatically. That’s fine for most people, and I understand that it’s hard to make friends outside of a school environment. When I first moved to Portland, I stressed out about it. I was worried that being an adult meant pretending to be professional all the time and never making worthwhile friendships.
A lot of times, we conclude that we can just make friends through our workplace, but this doesn’t work for everyone. Z tells me that, sure, his co-workers are probably fine to hang out with, but they don’t share the same interests. “Like, my vibe is entrepreneurs, young guys who like to dress well, build projects, and test assumptions. And my co-workers aren’t really into that.” I think that this is a totally reasonable and achievable goal. And I believe I have the secret sauce (or at least the first step) for how to forge meaningful relationships with like-minded people.
I met Z in college because we rowed crew together. We ate breakfast at the same time each morning, liked hip-hop and business. A great deal of things strengthened our friendship, but I think that our regular morning meet-ups were the foundation for our budding partnership. I knew where to find Z every morning, and without fail we showed up for breakfast, same place, same time.
Social circles center around the idea that people orbit through the same places to eat and drink. If you adjust your own orbit to overlap with the orbits of people who share your interests, you are much more likely to be exposed to people who could potentially be your friends. I apply this logic to my cafe preferences. I’ve visited a ton of cafes in Portland, and I revisit the ones that are 1) convenient and 2) align with my vibe. This way, the cafe becomes part of my orbit, and so do the regulars of that particular spot.
This isn’t about striking up conversations with random people. it’s about being part of a community, even if you are just a passive participant. Three-Michelin-Star-Chef Marco Pierre White noted in his menu that he waited four months at the same bar, establishing his presence, before he actually started meeting people. Musician and poet Patti Smith first met people in New York City simply by changing her wardrobe and dressing up how she thought artists dressed. Entering your community of choice isn’t hard, but showing up until you are familiar is the key for laying the groundwork for lasting friendships.