Social networking: Young adults searching for a way to connect

Number of Utah young adults is growing

Published: Sunday, March 24 2013 2:20 p.m. MDT

A group of friends eat dinner and talk in Holladay Friday, March 15, 2013. As college graduates leave the cocoon of a strong social support network, learning where and how to meet people in the professional adult world as a young adult can help many feel connected again.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Twenty-seven-year-old Janae Jacobs has always had many friends.

From kindergarten to college, play dates to parties, each social network has facilitated the cultivation of meaningful relationships.

But when Jacobs graduated from BYU and moved from Provo to a professional adult world in San Jose, Calif., she felt very alone.

“Without a close student community, I had no links to events that formed my social network,” Jacobs said. “I knew nobody.”

Jacob’s story is not uncommon. As college graduates leave the cocoon of a strong social support network, learning where and how to meet people in the professional adult world as a young adult can help many feel connected again. 

In 2000, young adults, ages 25 to 34, consisted of 14.6 percent of Utah's population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That number continues to climb. By 2010, young adults consisted of 16.1 percent of Utah’s population.

Great effort is given to networking for careers, with educators and mentors offering help to young adults as they head out into the world. But how do you meet someone for friendship, companionship, or for love?

Learning to look up

Expanding a social network is a matter of checking into the world a bit more, said Tamara Duricka Johnson, dating coach and author of "31 Dates in 31 Days."

“Once you stop watching the sidewalk and learn to look up, you’ll see that there are opportunities to be connected everywhere,” Johnson said. “Wake up, be present, be involved and be an active participant.”

Johnson said she learned this lesson the hard way. After being dumped for the second time in one year, Johnson, then 30, said she felt like she had somehow become the world’s worst dater.

“My love life was toppling like a skyscraper-sized game of Jenga,” she said.

Johnson decided she would tackle the root of the problem by going on a first date every day for a month. Johnson launched a campaign to get these dates. It’s a process she says taught her about social networking, in general.

“I started my project with three dates set up,” Johnson said. “I was to the point of not being ashamed to basically beg for dates.”

She posted online and blogged, but the number one way she met people was through her friends; she started with the social network she had and branched out, and learned an important lesson:

Don’t come with an agenda, Johnson said.

“People are much more likely to respond to you if you come as a full person, as opposed to coming with an agenda. Hand them a free smile, rather than a business card.” 

The young professional is surrounded by people with similar interests, Johnson said. “Use that to your benefit. Invest in the people around you already and expand.”

Johnson found that each person she knew was a hub to an entirely separate social network.

“Ask to join a friend with her work buddies for dinner. You may find great social opportunities in the most unpredictable places,” Johnson said.

Unexpected arenas

Jonathon Wright, a 25-year-old accountant living in Holladay, said he's discovered plenty of social networks to become involved in in Utah.

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