Living

Make a connection

It's difficult to meet someone. And now that summer is over, the task seems even more daunting.

Whether you’re looking for a job, a date or a friend, we gathered tips from the pros on how to cast your net and work it.

The bottom line? “You can’t stay in the same circles,” said Natalie Vick, president of Cynergy Match, a Kansas City area-based matchmaking service. “You really do have to put yourself out there.”

BE PROACTIVE

Alex Cross, 24, joined a kickball league to meet people after moving to the area. “Don’t expect to meet people if you sit at home on a Friday night and do nothing.”

Amanda Sweeten, 32, met her boyfriend in the unlikeliest of places – on the kickball field.

A few years ago, she joined a league through the Kansas City Sport & Social Club with friends.

“It’s a great time,” she said. “Everybody brings coolers of beer and sit around and socialize.”

Greg Shell, 32, played for Sweeten’s rival team. One night during a rainout, Sweeten and Shell grabbed drinks.

“We’ve pretty much been together ever since,” she said.

The 4,000-member-strong organization, which was founded in 2004, offers kickball, softball, men’s basketball, flag football – new this season – and volleyball leagues, and parties and pub crawls for young professionals ages 21 to 40.

“I think it brings people together because they automatically know they have something in common,” said Carlos Lee, 35, president of the Kansas City Sport & Social Club. “It makes it easier to open up because there’s already a comfort zone there.”

Membership is free. Members pay per activity. People can register as teams, small groups or individuals – ideal for those who are new to the area, Lee said.

Leagues typically include six weeks of regular-season play and two weeks of playoffs, plenty of time to make connections.

If sports aren’t your thing, be a joiner in other ways. The bonus of joining a young-professionals group? Not only are you supporting a good cause, but also you get the chance to meet like-minded individuals who are generous with their time and money. If you’re not the commitment type, these groups usually host happy hours so you can try before they buy.

JOIN SOMETHING. ANYTHING

Type in your ZIP code at meetup.com, and dozens of niche gatherings pop up that suit anyone from tall people to pug owners.

“It’s all about finding some common ground and building from there,” Lee said.

GET UNCOMFORTABLE

“I had a good friend who went to an event by herself and ended up meeting a lot of great people and had a really nice time,” Vick, 27, said. “Find a new place, something out of your comfort zone.”

STRETCH YOURSELF

“Be open to new experiences,” Lee said. “I know it’s easy for my group of friends to fall into a rut of going to the same places all the time. The sheer fact that you’re going somewhere different means you’re going to meet a different set of people while you’re out.”

DO GOOD

“Get involved in your community,” Vick said. “Volunteer or join a charity.”

BUILD YOURSELF UP

“Maybe spend an hour with a self-esteem coach or a stylist,” Vick suggested. Body language is key. Standing up straight and appearing confident were at the top on her list. “Smile a tiny bit, and you’ll look so much more approachable.”

KEEP AN OPEN MIND

“Never discount and discredit anyone,” said Carrie Bartlow, 28, who works with a local young-professionals group. “Most people in this town are willing to help you out in some way.”

Plus, everyone has a hot friend.

IF ALL ELSE FAILS, DRINK

(Shirley Temples are acceptable, too.)

Attend happy hours that are hosted by young-professionals groups, wine tastings and pub crawls.

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