Monday, September 10, 2012

Making Friends in Chicago

I have been meaning to do a "friends" post for a while. Back in June, I had a dinner party and my friend Jessica mentioned a book that reminded her of me. MWF Seeking BFF....Married White Female seeking Best Friend Forever. The storyline? A 28 year old moves to Chicago for her husband's job and is on the hunt for best friends (HELLO? Sound familiar? (except for the 28 part....I am a 21 year old child bride for life)). She has established best friends in other cities, but the social aspect of her life is lacking in Chicago. 

Her solution? Friend Dating...HARD! 52 friend dates in a year, with hopes of meeting the best friend of her dreams.  

Did I mention it is a true story? Rachel Bertsche is a journalist that narrates all of her friend dates, while sharing interesting antidotes and research about friendship.


I LOVED this book and basically used it as a "how to" manual for my personal Chicago friend hunt. I have AMAZING best friends in California, but they cannot be in Chicago every weekend (RUDE!) Rachel Bertsche is a friend-seeking genius, and I have been using so many of her tactics to cultivate my lady crew in Chicago. I must reference her book at least once a day in my head when I am looking for potential suitors.

So, without further ado...

Making friends in Chicago. Here's how I'm doing it.

1. Blogging. Yes, PMP seeking BBF....Posh Meets Pavement seeking Blogger Best Friends (was that lame? probably). I am SO grateful I had a blog before I moved to Chicago because it has been my biggest asset in meeting people with similar interests. The day I announced I was moving to Chicago, my inbox was flooded with emails from readers and bloggers offering help, advice, and friendship! I never knew that this little blog would connect me with other people around the world.

I got invited to a Blogger Book Club!

One book a month, fab Chicago bloggers, delicious homemade food, and just enough wine to keep it interesting.

I've also been making my own blogger girl dates. Kelsey and I went to brunch at Atwood Cafe last weekend...


and I have been meeting up with Caroline for walks, shopping, and a random piercing (it was a bonding experience).

When I mentioned I was thinking of running Zooma Great Lakes at Blogger Book Club, Erin suggested I get in touch with some other Chicago bloggers that were running the race and renting a house for the weekend. Now I have managed to get myself in on that action and will be sharing a house with all sort of fabulous running bloggers. I'm incredibly excited to share a house with strangers for the weekend, run a half marathon, pop champagne, and leave BFF's.

2. Friends of Friends. Luckily, Chicago is a pretty big city and we are a nomadic generation. Everyone I know seems to know someone who lives in the city or is moving here. It can be a cousin's roommate's sister, an aunt's friend's daughter, or a college buddy's girlfriend's best friend, ...whatever the level of separation is, I capitalize on it. "Give me their email" or "Send me their details" and I actually contact them. Most people meet their spouses through friends and family, so I'm applying that logic to friendship and following up on those leads.

3. MBA WAGS.  Approximately 30-35% of my husband's MBA class came to Chicago with spouses or significant others. That means there are quite a few of us wives and girlfriends (WAGS) that are new to Chicago and sharing a similar life experience. There is an official club with organized events, which is a great way to get us together and mingling.


We will be going through so much of the same issues and triumphs with our spouses during the next two years, and I look forward to having support from ladies that can relate. Since I am married, this may be a great way to recruit friends that can also be candidates for double dates and group activities. Win-win.

4. Being Friendly & Proactive. I'm putting myself out there. I smile at strangers, I give out my personal business card to girls I size up as potential friends, and I make small talk (All tips from Rachel) . I am new to this city, and I'm not going to get very far by being a solemn faced gal with sunglasses and crossed arms. The other day I put on an outfit and asked my husband, "Does this outfit say 'let's be friends'?"...strange, but true. You have to look the part, and first impressions are important. Smile!


I also am making the first move and following up with people. Too many times in the past I have said "let's get together" and nothing has materialized. Neither party took initiative and a potential friendship has been axed before it even started. The first step is the most important, so I am making it happen.


It's been working. I feel like I am making the foundation of a social life and I love it. Friendship is important. I challenge you to take a chance and make a step toward expanding your social circle. Email that blogger (Chicago people email me!) and organize a meet up, join a book club, take a new fitness class, say hi to that girl in the elevator, troll Facebook for classmates that live in your city, and get that email address of your sister's friend's ex-boyfriend's sister that lives in your city.
What's your best tip for making new friends? 

22 comments:

Jordy said...

Ah, LOVE it!! This is molto exciting. Cait mentioned that you reached out to her, and I basically glowed with joy.

Congrats, MWF, on making moves! Maybe I'LL make moves today to the book store. To read that book!!

Christina said...

Yay for a book club! I always try to be really open when meeting new people...you just never know how they may impact your life. Or how YOU can impact theirs. It's a beautiful thing, this world of ours...

Nicole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicole said...

I can relate too much! When I moved to SF from Santa Cruz I was determined to find friends. I wanted to meet my neighbors and I wanted a good set of Girlfriends to go out and have fun with. It was not as easy as I suspected. In santa cruz it was much easier to make new friends that the SF bay area. I actually Invited all my neighbors to a BBQ at my house one weekend and guess what? Nobody showed. What a disapointment. That didnt stop me. (determined like I said) I ended up putting a craigslist post for a meet up at a local German Beer Garden that was fun and hip. I put down some interest and exactly what I wanted..FRIENDS. It turned out great. 8 girls actually showed up and about 5 of them have been friends for about 5 years now, not to bad.

I have no doubt that you will get wonderful friendships while out in chicago.

p.s. Im now looking for a book club. I love that idea

Katie said...

We need to set up a friend date soon!! Maybe a run + brunch? Lol or just brunch/froyo/wine until the marathon craziness is over?

kelsey said...

Cracking up at that collage of pictures you made of the bloggers. thank God you used a good pic of me.

I'm so happy we live about 3 feet from each other so we can get togehter all the time...

accidentalintentions said...

Oh hey, face! Fancy seeing you on someone else's blog! Now I feel famous :)

In addition to book club, which is bomb.com obviously, I've found joining teams through one of the various sports leagues available in the city is great for meeting people. I haven't made a ton of friends through it (though I've also only played on one team so far), but at the very least it gave me some consistency -- I'll always see these people in this capacity on this night for the next seven or eight weeks. I've only kept in touch with one person from my volleyball team, but that's one more person than I had before!

Erin @ Loop Looks said...

You totally are using Rachel's techniques!! Advice in action. Love it!

Are you around during the day during the week? If so, I'm inviting you to meet me for lunch in the Loop.

findingblissforme said...

Thank you for putting my big head on your blog. I'm down for girl dates. And excited for book club!

FoodFaithFitness said...

I've only moved a few times. My friends have always been my co-workers. I don't work in an office setting anymore, but I have made my friends through church and the gym.

kilax said...

I read this book in the fall and strated trying some things out too - I asked a girl out from my exercise class and we went out a few times! I tend to talk a lot to people and make a lot of dates! Maybe I talk too much ;) I do think joining a running club really helped me meet a lot of people!

Can't wait to see you at ZOOMA! (If not sooner)

shrinkontherun.com said...

I need to read that book! It's so wierd to friend date after school ends - I just moved too and it's like a whole new universe of dating haha

Emma Ruth said...

oh I wish i lived in chicago. we'd totally be friends. and drink wine.

liverunlaughyoga said...

bahh that picture of me is so bad. haha. I like making friends by joining running groups. Im glad you are meeting more people. (like me :) )

Sana said...

I joined a local running group so that I can make friends :)

Pia said...

Thanks for this we just moved to Brisbane, Australia (gulp!) and I am definitely searching for some BFFs; great advice!

skinnyrunner said...

i better be invited to that drinking wine house thing at great lakes!

Thomasstrome said...

It's really hard to find someone, a friend to be exact, in a new place. You should look approachable and always remember that at first you are the stranger for them so be your best friendly self. bbpeoplemeet

Jenna Kristine said...

[I found this by googling "meet friends" in a moment of frustration. I'm assuming Google added the "Chicago" part and that's why this came up first!)


Ahhhh yup. I spend tonight wandering around Roger's Park, where I moved a couple of months ago (I spent the last four years in school down in the Near North area) and realizing that I have really got to find some friends in the city who aren't still students -- preferably closer, too! I work an hour away for the publishing division of where I just graduated, so work hasn't helped that much.

I think I'll leave this blog post open to keep me keep positive about actually doing something about it!

Cate said...

I can definitely relate to your situation! I moved to the city after undergrad and it is so difficult trying to meet people and make friends!

Kate Long said...

I, like Jenna, found this by googling "meet friends" too! I've moved a couple of times in my life, including an amazing stint in Istanbul, Turkey for the past 5 years. Hard to believe I found making friends there easier than Chicago!
I think being married w/o kids (hence no school moms to meet) and working from home has really limited my interaction and opportunity to make easier connections.
Anyone interested in attending if we organized a meet-up?

Kriti said...

Not sure if you had this organized meet-up already but I am in the same boat as you! I'm married w/out kids but travel for work constantly so that in itself comes with its own challenges. I would be really interested if it's still something others are interested in

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