Over 10 years ago, I found myself alone in Manchester after my life and marriage fell apart. I took the first job I could. I was a divorced 30-something father-of-two in a strange city with no friends locally. I missed company on a weekend. I realised that had to change and I needed to get out there and meet new people.
My days of picking up strangers in a club were long behind me. I wanted something meaningful. Something real that happened naturally. Even today, the large majority of people find their significant others through friends. I decided my social life needed a boost.
I told myself that whatever was meant for me, whether it be love or friendship, would not pass me by.
I set up dating profiles on every website going. I even downloaded those apps and got swiping. But what could I bring to the table? All work and no play made for awkward and dull conversations and my profile was like every other out there. I got tired quickly of it all. I am a romantic at heart and believe that a good relationship starts naturally, without pressure, between friends sharing mutual interests.
So I joined existing social groups. But they were lacking in so many ways. I could not find a group that suited my needs as a thirty-something. It was either boozy nights out for students, gentle health walks for silver-haired retirees or clubs for semi-pro runners. Come Friday, after a busy week at work, I just wanted fun on my doorstep with people who had similar interests to me. I did not want to be stuck to doing one thing on one night. I wanted my social calendar to work around me.
There had to be more people like me? Right? Surely other singles were looking to meet new people?
Fortunately my hunch was correct. Before long I had found other funny, genuine and smart men and women who had also experienced a major life change and wanted to meet new people – but didn’t know where to start.
A pint at the Slug and Lettuce turned into hiking adventures, meals out at restaurants and evenings at local comedy clubs. I found there was always a new friend willing to join me at the cinema or share a laugh at the Frog and Bucket. As my social circle grew, so did my confidence. I found I wanted to try more events as my new friends introduced me to their friends.
It turned out I was doing everyone a favour by starting Social Circle.
We all want to try something new, but we are often time-poor or exhausted from work (or both!) to organise anything ourselves. Word soon got around that you could just book an event and turn up. I went from Billy-no-mates to always being the centre of attention at parties. I always had offers of dates. After all, I seemed like a fun and interesting guy who found it easy to meet new friends!
Soon I had built an action packed calendar with events taking place at top Manchester Venues every night of the week and lots of new people joining us. People, just like me and you. Soon I had to recruit a team of hosts to make sure each event ran smoothly and that everyone got a warm welcome. Of course, all our hosts are also members so know exactly what it is like to be a nervous newbie.
Yet, I am proud to say that after all this time, I am still close friends with the people who took a chance on having a drink with a stranger on a Friday night.
In fact it was one of my Social Circle friends, who suggested that I organise a weekend away for Social Circle to Barcelona. It just so happened that a new member Louise, decided that she would book the trip. It was love at first sight and 2012 she became my wife.
Who knew that within years after turning up to my first event, that I would have a thriving business, great friends and have met the love of my life?
So take a chance and step out there. You never know where it may lead.