You might have to do your research, but there are probably plenty of opportunities for networking in your area! Going to one of these events may be a good way to get you out of your comfort zone and they are great practice for improving your social skills and confidence. You may find a new friend, significant other, or career contact. Try to make the most of it by exchanging your information (email, phone number, business card) with at least one other person. It’s probably best to go to an event alone — if you attend an event with a good friend, you might be more tempted to just mingle with your friend instead of chatting with new people. After the event, try to focus on a goal for the next one (obtaining more contact information, bringing your business cards, interacting with more people, etc.). To find an event, simply perform a Google search, join Meetup.com, or sign up for an alumni list from your alma mater.
I hadn’t really thought about attending a networking event before, but one of my friends helps to organize a “Cornell Club” in my area and I have been meaning to attend one of their events in order to support his efforts. The club mostly organizes dinners, fun outings, and 5k teams for races, but also plan mixers with alumni from other colleges, so I decided to join in on the latest one. It was different from what I expected, but I’m glad that I went! There were a variety of people of all ages and backgrounds (for some reason, I was assuming that it would mostly be younger alumni, but I was wrong!) and they all graduated from top universities but are currently living in my area. I met a good amount of new people that night and found that I had some things in common with a few of them (there were several scuba divers there, several other biology majors, and a few fellow Cornell grads, one of which knew of me through one of my good friends). I met one girl around my age who is new to the area, so she and I are going to meet at some point to explore a bit, since I know the area pretty well by now. If nothing else, I made a new friend! I know that a networking event can sound intimidating (trust me, I’m not the type to go to a new event alone), but I definitely felt much more relaxed once I started meeting people.