The 80/20 Approach to Improving your Social Life and Connecting People

by Ludvig Sunström

complicated math problemMany people make the mistake of overcomplicating social interactions. DON’T!

Instead what you need to do is simplify and get down to the fundamentals. You need to focus on the few core things that are going to produce the most results.

This post is about:

  • 1. Improving your social life in efficient ways.
  • 2. Leveraging your improved social life by connecting other people to each other and thus providing a ton of value – making you the go-to guy in social situations.

I’m going to tell you how to do this by thinking in terms of the Pareto Principle – meaning that 80 % of the results will stem from 20 % of the actions.

These are the few core things that are going to really boost your social life – not using secret techniques to influence people.

Simplify

There’s a lot of fancy techniques and interesting psychology out there related to meeting new people, frame controlling, influencing others, and doing pick-up.

However, most of that material is not-so-useful mental masturbation – meaning that it’s a poor use of your time if you are looking strictly for results in improving your social life.

When you want to get good at something you should always consider:

Which are the 1-3 activities that are the most important to accomplishing my goal?

This is the 80/20 approach. Once you have identified these things you seek out to master skill sets related to these key activities.

So, let’s look at some of 80/20 activities related to improving your social life and becoming a connector.

1. Improving your Social Life

A good social life stems from having cool supportive friends and knowing interesting people that you can choose to hang out with whenever you’d like.

Cool supportive friends and interesting people don’t exactly grow on trees – there’s a lot of boring and demotivating people out there that aren’t beneficial to hang around.

If you don’t know how to improve your social life you’ll be stuck with these people.

If you don’t know how to meet new people you’ll feel limited to the few people you already do know.

Your range of choice gets limited – and that’s never a good thing.

To change this you need to work on becoming competent in the skill meeting new people. A skill assumes that it’s something you can learn through practice.

80-20 rule

The main 80/20 activities that will improve your social life are:

1. Introducing yourself. Always extend your hand – be proactive in meeting new people and introducing yourself to new people in any given social situation. It surprises me that
many people don’t do this immediately and instead talk to each other without saying their names and leaving as strangers. Every interaction is an opportunity to meet someone new.

2. Asking for people’s contact info. Whenever you have an interaction with somebody cool you should take their contact information as soon as possible. You don’t necessarily have to wait until the end of the conversation. Most people will take it as a compliment when you ask for their phone number, Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin. If you feel uncomfortable doing this you could begin by saying something like, “I think you’re an interesting person, what’s your (insert contact info).”

3. Solidifying the relationship. Once you have gotten the contact info, you need to follow
up on it as soon as possible while you’re still fresh in their memory. Do this by writing a short message saying something like, “Hey Carl, it was cool meeting you. I like that you’re also interested in XYZ. I’ll see you around. Regards Ludvig.” It’s often a good idea to refer back to something you were speaking about.

See how damn simple it is!?

This is how a relationship is built from scratch.

Then it’s only a matter of continuing to apply these three activities and then you’ll get to know a ton of new people over time so long as you’re consistent.

Soon you start to collect and follow up on contacting new people as a habit.

If you take a look at the most socially popular people – like club promoters – this is exactly what they’re doing, but with a fanatic dedication. This is literally their full-time job!

Implications of Improving your Social Life

By improving your social life you will raise your self-esteem as a result of feeling less dependent on your current social circle.

You’ll be less needy in social situations because you’re confident in your ability to meet new people.

2. Becoming a Connector

Connecting people is probably the oldest job in the world after prostitution.

As a connector you act like the host of a party. You leverage your improved social life by connecting other people to each other. You make sure to include people in the conversation or the social circle by inviting them.

Here are two practical ways of inviting people:

  • If you’re at a social event introduce people to each other by asking if these people have met before.
  • You could connect two people by sparking up a conversation between them:

Alicia, This is John, he’s really into mountaineering just like you are!

The main 80/20 activities that will help you connect people are:

1. Connecting as a Short-term strategy immediately. You need to assume the responsibility for your friends meeting new people. Always ask your friends if they’ve met each other and introduce people near you to each other. This is just as the bullet-
pointed example above.

2. Connecting as a long-term strategy over time. You think about people in your social network that might benefit from meeting each other – whether that benefit comes from a business, romance, or friendship standpoint. They will remember that they met through you and appreciate it. You’re providing a ton of value. If you’re serious about this you should frequently send messages to people in your social networks saying things like

Hey Kyle, I know you’re doing X and Y. Michael Johnson, a friend of mine, is doing ABC, I think the two of you could work something out.

3. Being or providing the social nexus. This means either that you are or that you provide the platform through which communication occurs. Being a connector and acting comes close to being the social nexus. Providing the social nexus is a bit different.

For example:

  • If you have some special hobby I guarantee you that you can use that to connect with like-minded people if you’re willing to create or find groups in this niche and organize meet ups. You could do this by creating groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, or using Meetup.

Implications of Becoming a Connector

To become a connector isn’t very hard if you know a decent amount of people already. The short-
term strategy above is highly effective for being appreciated at social events or parties.

The long-term strategy requires that you’re thinking daily about how you could match different people with each other and then take the time to connect them.

If you are willing to create one a group you’ll soon be in a good social position. Meetup is also great for getting to know new people when traveling or moving to a new city.

What’s your take on these 80/20 activities – are they unrealistically simple?

Do you have strategies of your own for improving your social network?

About Ludvig Sunström
Ludvig Sunström runs Start Gaining Momentum where he writes about practical self-development, philosophy, and stepping up in life. Check out his free eBook, Breaking out of Homeostasis and learn how to reclaim control from your brain and body by conquering homeostasis. You can connect with him on Twitter and Google+.

Follow me on Twitter · Visit my website →

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

NoSexism December 3, 2013 at 7:17 am

”…to master skill sets related to these key activities.”

Words like ‘master’ to describe achievement, should be replaced. It is sexist to put masculine words on all achievements. Being sexist is anti information and anti progress.

NoSexism December 3, 2013 at 7:34 am

”As a connector you act like the host of a party. ”

Where have all the female words gone? Actress? Heroine, hostess…? etc
Are they being removed from the language, by those who think feminine is bad?

Ludvig Sunström December 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Hahaha!
I like how THIS was what you got out of the post 😉

On a more serious point I didn’t exactly think about empowering women as I was writing the post. But I’ll be sure to do that next time for your sake.

Best,
Ludvig

Dillon December 5, 2013 at 1:27 am

Nice post man.

I like your approach of simplifying this stuff. I think it holds true for everything. The better you are the simpler your method (but still gives results).

I also like the idea of just introducing people. So easy to do and still a great thing that is liked by others.

Cam December 5, 2013 at 3:57 am

Thanks for the great post, Ludvig.

@ Dillion – Thanks for the comment. Introducing people is one of the best ways I’ve found to build better relationships. I highly recommend it, although it’s important to make sure the relationships are more than just introductions and to follow-up individually to make sure they proceed somewhat.

mike December 5, 2013 at 5:45 am

Lol at first two comments. You’re either very funny, or a retard.

All in all, good stuff. Will try it out.

Cam December 5, 2013 at 6:13 am

@ Mike – Thanks for commenting. Glad you found the article valuable. Let me know if we can help you in any way 🙂

Ludvig Sunström December 5, 2013 at 8:38 am

@Cam —> Thanks for having me. I dig what you’re doing!

@Dillon —>I agree. I’ve taken martial arts for most of my life, I’m way into the whole simplicity thing. 🙂

@ Mike –> Thank you!

Sebastian December 30, 2013 at 5:31 am

I get a little bit bored when I’m around other people but the increase in friends I’ve had over this past year was because I was just genuine the whole time and really confident about the things I was doing.

I guess people saw value in hanging out with them versus me seeking them to take value off them.

Ludvig Sunström December 30, 2013 at 1:11 pm

I feel the same way sometimes.

I feel like, “wtf am I doing here, I have work to do!”.

To avoid this, and come across more genuinly as you put it, I try to do everything I know I must do (work out/study/meditate/read/write/etc etc) BEFORE spending time with people.

Paradoxically, putting other people first is NOT appreciated by them. Putting yourself first, and THEN hanging out with them is appreciated a lot more because they then feel more valued. They feel, “This guy is doing things that matter to him, and now he is choosing to hang out with me, that must mean I matter to him too!”

A bit crude, but true. The same is definitely true about women too, they pick this up right away when you hang out.

Barb July 19, 2014 at 6:09 pm

Cam,

All the years we ran into eachother and these approaches were used on me ummm. I totally relate and respect your theories. Great work! I wish you much sexcess in your business endeavours.
Sincerely,
Barb W

Cam July 19, 2014 at 6:10 pm

@ Barb – Thanks Barb! Really appreciate you saying hello! Hope to see you some time when I’m back in YYC.

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