Think you’ve tried absolutely everything to meet that special someone already? Well, guess what… you actually might have missed a chance to play connect-the-dates without realizing it. The exact same skills you use to network your way into a new job or find the perfect apartment can also be directly applied to your love life. If you can learn to think outside of the who-can-set-me-up box, you might be rewarded with an entirely new circle of interesting prospects to date. Read on for some expert tips to enhance your date-me visibility...
#1: Work your connections at extended family reunions
When it comes to family and matters of the heart, most people tend to think in strictly nuclear terms — as in, they hit up brothers, sisters and parents for potential dating prospects. But open your search to the rest of your relatives, and you might score a more suitable set-up. “We tend to forget about our extended families, but you don’t want to overlook them,” says Susan Roane, author of How to Work a Room. “For example, I fixed up my college roommate with my cousin’s cousin at a wedding, and they were married 11 months later!”
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In other words, don’t shy away from the “Why aren’t you married yet?” question at your next extended family gathering. Instead, reply with: “Because you haven’t introduced me to my future intended!” Family members who wouldn’t ordinarily think about fixing you up might suddenly recall a cute, single next-door neighbor once you jog their memory a little bit. It’s especially smart to take advantage of this tactic during the holidays while surrounded by relatives you don’t see that often… you never know who they’ll introduce you to that you’d otherwise never meet.
#2: Play office politics to make a love connection
Yes, office romances can be sticky, but there’s nothing that says you can’t use your work environment to your social advantage. A good way to do this: try exploring extracurricular office activities. “What you want to do is all the stuff that doesn’t seem totally work-related,” says Ronna Lichtenberg, author of Pitch Like a Girl: Get Respect, Get Noticed, Get What You Want. “I find that big companies usually have sporting teams of some kind, and it’s just a great way to meet people!” But you don’t even have to play to make this tactic a useful one; you can work the stands, for example. “Whatever it is, go and cheer them on, because the players will have buddies or significant others there as well who also know some single people,” says Lichtenberg. Affinity groups are another great place to look for dates. “Most companies have groups specifically for women, ethnicities, GLBT employees and so on, and those groups tend to do a lot of activities together,” says Lichtenberg. “These are good people to use as your ambassadors because you already have something in common.”
How can you let your status be known to your colleagues and their pals without looking desperate? “Flattery is always your friend,” says Lichtenberg. “At a sporting or social event, things are quasi-social already, so you can say something like this to a person’s significant other: ‘I’d love to find someone who makes me as happy as you obviously make your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend.’” Put it out there in a way that makes them feel good about their relationship, and they’ll want to help you find one, too. Now, who said business and pleasure can’t mix?
#3: Hit up “taken” types you like and ask them to set you up with someone who’s similar
You know this scenario: You meet a really fun new person and think Wow, this has potential, until your crush mentions his or her significant other. Another opportunity down the drain, right? Actually, maybe not! Remember, like-minded people tend to cluster together. So, if you enjoy this person, you might like his/her friends, too. “It’s perfectly OK in that situation to exchange cards with the person and then say, ‘Hey, you seem really great — do you have any single friends that are like you I could meet?’” suggest David Wygant, a dating coach in Los Angeles. Another trick? Ask about any siblings this person might have. “You can easily say, ‘Wow, if you have any brothers (or sisters) who are like you, please let me know,’” says Roane. It’s a compliment while also clearly stating you’d be open to meeting someone who’s similar in some way. This person may be taken, but you never know who might have an identical single twin (or at the very least, a seriously adorable best friend) who’s searching for someone like you.
#4: Try temporarily ditching your wingman (or wingwoman)
When was the last time you tried flying solo on a Friday or Saturday night? It takes courage to step out without an entourage, but the rewards can be plentiful. That doesn’t mean you have to show up by yourself, however; you can always meet them later in the evening. The trick is to take scheduled breaks from your friends and see who you can meet in the interim. “The reason people are afraid to split from friends is because they don’t want to insult them, and they also don’t want to be left alone in an awkward situation,” says Laurie Puhn, J.D., author of Instant Persuasion: How to Change Your Words to Change Your Life. But if you never part ways, you’ll never chat with anyone different, either. The solution? “Say, ‘You know I love hanging out with you, but this is a great opportunity to meet new people — how about if we both do that for 15 minutes and then check back in?’” suggests Puhn. By giving everyone a time limit for staying separated, you can feel more at ease on your own. And when it’s time to reconvene, you can always bring any new friends you make back with you.
Another thing to remember is that if you’ve been invited to a party, you’re never really alone because you already know the host. “Many of us skip parties when we can’t find a friend to go with us, but why miss the fun just because other people have plans?” says Puhn. “Simply alert the host in advance that you may be arriving unescorted. Then when you do show up, seek him/her out and ask to be introduced to other single people.” If you still feel awkward after 20 minutes, give yourself permission to leave. Chances are good that you’ll be fine and actually enjoying yourself by then, but if not, take the easy out.
#5: Get acquaintances in the service industry working for you
If you regularly frequent the same nail salon or dry cleaners and the employees there call you by name, they probably do the same with their other patrons — and could be persuaded to introduce the two of you. “Don’t forget the barista at your favorite coffee house, your hairstylist, or even your dentist. They surely have other customers who are also single, or friends and offspring they could set you up with,” says Roane. The gym is another place to really capitalize on this technique. “It’s the job of the gym staff to know our members, so we usually know who’s single and who’s not,” says Chris Winn, membership advisor for Equinox Fitness Club/Columbus Circle. “This makes it easy for you to ask about someone you’ve been eyeing before you make an approach yourself.”
#6: Reach out to your friends’ extended circle of friends
Your friends may not know anyone to set you up with, but that doesn’t mean your friends’ circle of friends don’t know someone who could be your perfect match. So when you meet a mutual friend at a party and feel a connection with that person, go ahead and ask away! “If you’re both single, say something like: “I enjoy talking to you and I think you’d like some of my friends… we should connect again sometime soon. What do you think?’” says Puhn. “It’s totally cool to communicate directly, get an email address or phone number, and then invite that person to hang out with you sometime and also suggest reciprocating the favor.” Friends of friends are a natural extension of your social network, and you never know whom this person might work with or know from college that might be a great potential mate.
Another way to harness the power of your social circles is to host a “B.Y.O.F.” (Bring Your Own Friend) party, where everyone has to bring a single companion in order to gain entrance. You can also try organizing a “friend exchange” Friday: “Pick someone of the opposite sex you’re friendly with and suggest a Friday night to bring both of your groups of friends together,” suggests Wygant. “In the process of mixing, you might end up also doing some matching.”
#7: Wear your single status proudly on your sleeve
Instead of being afraid to admit you’re single, wear it like a badge of honor. Why? “If people don’t know you’re looking, they won’t feel comfortable offering a fix-up,” says Roane. “Single people, most of the time, just need to get out of their own way,” agrees Wygant. “Announce to everyone — and I mean everyone — that you’re single because you never know who will have the perfect person to hook you up with next.” In other words, if you’re single, be proud and say it out loud, because someone willing to set you up might be listening.
Kimberly Dawn Neumann (www.KDNeumann.com) is a popular New York City-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in such publications as Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Redbook, Maxim and frequently online. A certified dating/relationship coach, she’s published two books:The Real Reasons Men CommitandSex Comes Firstand is the founder of www.DatingDivaDaily.com.