I wrote this guide by request many years ago, when I was teaching a lot of social dynamics to people who wanted to improve their social lives, work connections, or even their dating lives.
It’s a talk I’d given before a few times, but I’d asked for it in writing, so this is what I wrote. It’s not exactly as I originally wrote it; I’ve updated the advice and improved the writing while still sticking to the original vision of what I was trying to communicate.
Now, I’ve come a long way since then, but I must say that I still fall back on the same tried-and-tested method written about here whenever I’m looking to start a new social circle or expand an existing one. It’s a method that has helped myself as well as many others, and hopefully, it’ll help you too.
Here’s how it goes.
An Unconventional Approach
Having received many requests over the past year to do an updated post on social circle building, I’ve decided to write a comprehensive guide to mastering any social scene.
Now, I’ll start by saying, the way you’ll go about this might be a little bit different than what you were expecting.
To begin with, it’s expected that almost everyone who’s looking for a guide like this will say that they’d prefer, above all, a fixed model that gives a step-by-step process of exactly what to do and when.
However, I’ve always found that forcing a “model” like that onto something as organic as this can be very problematic, as blindingly executing a plan of how you will build your social circle means you’ll miss all the situational opportunities that come up, which you could never have predicted, and so, could never have planned for in the first place.
Besides, putting a lot of effort into ‘manufacturing’ a social circle that way ends up causing more hassle than its worth. If anything doesn’t go according to the way you thought it would, you end up having to throw that whole “step by step plan” out the window, and do it in the more natural way that I’m about to suggest instead.
This method that I’m about to show you is based upon the strategy of of sticking to 5 key general principles that will guide your interactions in the right direction and influence the decisions you make.
The advantage of this is that you can continually apply this way of doing things to effortlessly “grow” your social circle from scratch until you reach the tipping point, whereby your social value continues to increase all by itself. At that point, you no longer have to do anything at all. The whole process is done for you automatically. That’s the goal here.
Because these guiding principles don’t place limits on you, you’re never going to have to adapt them to suit the situation you find yourself in. They’re universal principles that always work, because they were developed from an understanding of how social relationships work on a fundamental level.
So, let’s start taking a look at what these , and take a look at how to start a social circle from scratch.
How to Win Friends and Influential People
Okay, let’s paint the picture.
I’m assuming that you are starting completely from scratch, maybe you’re a first-year student at university, you’re starting a new job, you’ve picked up a new hobby, or you have a few existing friends and want to grow your social dynasty.
The first principle to begin applying right away is to always give value.
Principle No. 1: Always Be Giving Value
You see, social relationships are based upon an exchange of value between people within a social circle. A person of high social value is so, because, by definition, they are valuable to other members of the social circle.
That value that they have strengthens the more people there are that back them up, as well as how high value those people are. If you understand this, you’ll realize that the only way to get value is to be valuable to other people, meaning that you must give them some form of value.
Now, I’m not telling you to buy everyone you meet a bunch of flowers and a box of chocolates, because the simple fact of the matter is this: While seemingly the highest form of value is whatever people perceive to be valuable, good emotions tops that every single time.
Principle No. 2: Good Emotions Are the Highest Form of Value
Say, for example, you have a good friend who is becoming more and more successful with their business.
You’ll notice that they begin to distance himself from many of their old friends who were previously considered “cool” as they begins to associate with higher status people. Yet, despite that, they still always have time for you because you make them laugh, and you’re never needy. You add a kind of value to their life that is completely independent of your societal and financial status.
Well… I say “independent,” but what you will find is that because you provide good emotions to people, you personally will grow in social status, because you’re now backed up by high value, influential individuals.
So, basically, that means it doesn’t matter if you start as a complete nobody. You instantly become a “somebody” as soon as soon as you’re connected to high value individuals. That’s how the perception of social value works.
Okay, so here’s what you do.
Once you enter a social environment, you need to begin to work the room, giving value to everybody you can until you find out who the social connectors are, and who the value connectors are.
Principle No. 3: Focus on the Social Connectors and Value Connectors
Let’s do a quick breakdown of what these two kinds of people are, and why they’re so undeniably important in your social journey.
A social connector is someone who has a particular and rare set of social skills. You’ll know exactly who they are. They belong in multiple social circles and naturally introduce people to other people all the time.
These hyper-social people will have no qualms in introducing you to other people as well, but you shouldn’t expect them to hang around you as an individual for long. They’re social butterflies, and they belong with wherever their whims take them.
Naturally, that means they’re extremely averse to any sort of needy behavior. Be non-needy in your interactions with these people, give good emotions, and they’ll automatically set you up with great people without you even asking. They just love doing it for the sake of it.
“Now, why would they introduce me of all people, to the cool people they know, without me even asking?” Well, that’s because you give them good emotions. Social connectors thrive off good emotions, and that’s even on top of the fact that good emotions are already the highest form of value.
Next is value connectors. Social connectors will instinctively introduce you these people, or at the very least, social circles which have these people in them.
Now, while a social connector has access to different social networks, a value connector is someone who has access to scarce resources. Examples of this include access to parties, events, premieres, famous people, and so on. They can even be a doorman or promoter that can get you into an exclusive venue.
Value connectors are likely to be fairly social people, but it doesn’t matter if they’re a complete recluse. Like with knowing high value people directly, knowing these people gives you value as well, except in this case it’s one step removed.
Oh, and no doubt you’ll find that some people are both a social connector and a value connector at the same time. That means so well connected, that they have access to many social circles, but also scarce resources. Again, you’ll need to be especially non-needy with these people, as you would with normal social connectors.
How to Start Conversations with These People
Now, I realize that because you are reading a guide on how to be social, it’s likely that you already find difficulty in starting conversations with people and giving value right off the bat, so I’m going to give you some simple steps on how to do this.
The best way to open conversations with individuals as well as groups in a social environment is to open Indirect-direct.
That is to say, that you open by making a situational, observational statement about them.
This is a hybrid between the direct way in which you would approach a friend you just spotted, and the indirect way in which you would approach someone when you need directions.
The way in which the following conversation flows relies on the fact that you continue to make positive, playful statements or assumptions about things that related to them. You might have already guessed why this works, but in case you haven’t, here it is in big writing:
Principle No. 4: Everybody’s Favorite Conversational Topic Is Themselves
The way you use this fact to get talking with people is remarkably simple.
You just observe, then make a playful statement or assumption, and then ask a question about it.
Then when they respond, you listen, make a statement about what they just said, and ask a question about it again. Rinse and repeat until you’re in a natural conversation, as if you’re talking to your best friend.
You can use this process over and over to generate rapport around the room. Be genuinely interested in people’s lives, talk about the emotional aspect of things and use emotive language. Remember: good emotions are the highest form of value, so it’s the gesture that counts.
Begin to talk positively about other people, thus giving them value through creating positive buzz for them.
Principle No. 5: Create Positive Buzz for Other People
“Buzz” is the name for the people talking about you behind your back, and so, it is the main substance of value.
It is important to never create negative buzz for anyone else, because that will just make you become more prone to negative buzz. The general rule for social circle is: the more you give, the more you get, and the same goes for the quality of value you give. The more negative value you give, the more your own value tanks.
That means, the absolute worst thing you can do is give negative emotions to other people. That’s the quickest way to generate negative buzz, and the quickest way to get cut out of high value social circles.
After all, there’s lots of good people out there, and if you’re just bringing other people down, then you can’t expect others to lift you up.