Some people seem born to be the life of all parties – they are vivacious, popular and constantly sought after. A far cry from those who are left in the shadows and almost invisible in groups. If you feel you are one of the latter, despair not. A well-kept secret about the former group is that most of their social skills can be acquired and with the following tips and much practice you can actually learn how to be more outgoing.
Start with the basics
It is difficult to be outgoing and popular if you are constantly worrying about your appearance. And since the superficial is the easiest to change, start by going for a makeover. Try a new hairstyle, get a facial or a pedicure or make a few changes in your wardrobe. The difference in your appearance will go a long way in spurring you on to a new course of social action and make people in your familiar circle sit up and notice the new you. At the same time though, don’t forget the basics of grooming like neat hair, clean nails, fresh-smelling breath and body fragrance. Nothing saps confidence as quickly as awareness of poor grooming habits and that is the last thing you want when you wish to be on a roll socially.
Look for ways to connect
It is difficult to be outgoing if your entire social circle consists of just three single co-workers or the same four guys with whom you hang out at the bar. Rather find ways of changing the social scene so that you can come across new people. An excellent idea is to organize a Sunday pot luck lunch and ask each of the regulars in your group to bring along a new guest. At the same time, see if you can accompany a cousin, sibling or a friend to parties at their neighborhoods and offices, wherever you may not have frequented till now. Even getting in touch with friends from school or those to whom you haven’t spoken for years may help in widening your social circle and who knows may even bring you across someone you would like to know better.
A great way to do this in these times is by going online. Sign up with social networking sites or better still create your own blog. Facebook, Orkut, myspace, Twitter are all vast online communities of friends and contacts where you can hope to come across people who will like both your profile as well as your areas of interests and pursuits. Again, a blog is one of the easiest ways to increase your confidence and become more outgoing. This will not only help you to express your passion and interest about certain things but help netizens from around the world to connect to you. In fact even reading other people's blogs is a great way to get ideas or make friends. Try "friending" as many bloggers as you can, even if some of them don't accept your invitations. The goal of this exercise is not to actually make new friends, but to discover how easy it is to do so. By "friending" other people, you will find it easier to make friends in the real world and reach out to everyone, even complete strangers.
Get out more
Take up a part-time job or hobby which will again bring you in touch with a wide variety of people. While you may have exhausted all the possibilities of the office-gym-home routine, a twice-a-week hobby class or a part-time position at the university library is sure to open up a far more varied group of people to your acquaintance. And before long you may find yourself going over the finer points of Thai cuisine or Impressionist painting with a particularly attractive co-enthusiast. Cafes and pubs have been the traditional hanging out places for most single of a town. If you have already done the routine without success, don’t lose heart. Perhaps you need to tweak the timing of your regular latte - like make it early evenings when the young college crowd frequents the cafes instead of late evening when they are more likely to head home to study. Also explore other cafes in your city instead of the ones nearest to your office or apartment - who knows you might get lucky elsewhere! Likewise, frequenting places of culture, sports or other niche areas of interest will place you in touch with varied kinds of crowds and even if you do not make friends the first day, the vivacity and energy of these places will help you to become socially open.
Brush up your conversational skills
One of the basic ways human beings relate to each other is by conversation. Make an attempt to reach out verbally to others. Start with a simple ‘hi’ or ‘hello’ when in the company of strangers and then look for something in common or ask about the person. An important part of effective conversation is knowing how to listen too. So when you do get a chance to speak to someone likable, don’t end up enumerating your successes or discussing your mother’s cat. Use a conversation as a way of knowing your people around you but remember to stick to casual, common and impersonal topics. Be an active listener but also give your feedback when required. Use fun and humor in your conversation since laughter is one of the easiest ways to connect to others. However avoid saying anything crass or obscene which may end up denting your popularity. In general, be considerate, polite and interested if you want to be thought of as popular and outgoing.
Experiment a little
If you have had the same hobbies and worn the same kinds of clothes all your life, it may be time to infuse some new blood into your life. Make an attempt to read the kind of books and watch the type of movies that you have never done in your past. Experiment with new style of clothes and different kinds of cuisine. All these are ways of increasing your exposure to new ideas and experiences which in turn will go a long way in helping you acquire an outgoing personality.
Above all adopt a broad outlook in life. Be accepting of friends and people from various lifestyles and values even when you find nothing in common with them; avoid being judgmental and instead look upon them as infusing color and complexity to the fabric of life. Finally try not to be overly concerned with what other people think about you and instead try and live on your own terms as long as you are not inconveniencing others or being self-destructive.