Developing new friendships can be difficult. You may not often be in situations where you enter a new environment or you're able to meet like-minded people. And, once you meet someone new, you have to be vulnerable and open with someone you don't know very well (or at all!), and allow them to do the same with you. It often takes a lot of emotional effort, and it can be scary! I get it. I have a few tips and tricks in order to help you get out of your head, and start connecting with different people in your community and area that you might never have met, but that can really change your life for the better.
Travel Outside Your Bubble
Most of us have a typical hangout spot, whether that be a trendy diner, a bowling alley that smells like questionable pizza, or an Instagram-worthy park. However, in order to meet new people, we need to start going to new places and trying new things. Going places that are unfamiliar can be overwhelming, which is why you can start small. Bring a friend along into the unknown with you! Explore new parks by organizing a community hike, go to a coffee shop in an area you don’t normally frequent, or even join a Facebook group that interests you.
Pro tip: If the new destination you want to try is within walking or biking distance, choose one of these modes of transportation for maximum opportunities to meet new people along the way.
Not everyone shares the same interests or moral values, and it can be intimidating to hold a conversation. This is why making the first step can go a long way. If you're brave, walk over and initiate introductions, you'll thank yourself later. Let’s face it: everyone likes talking about themselves. So, start by asking the person about their hobbies. Once you feel more comfortable, share a personal story or detail about yourself to connect with the other person.
Pro tip: If you’re feeling nervous about making the first move in conversations, practice by attending more mixers and networking events. You can always go with a friend!
It’s fun being around that 25% of the population who always seems upbeat and positive. People want to surround themselves with good energy! So, if you project positivity, more people are likely to be drawn to you. This doesn’t mean you should put on a fake smile or give disingenuous compliments, but instead it’s about your body language. Stand with an open posture (arms by your side, not crossed) and with your body aimed toward the person you are talking to. Smile often, and laugh freely and openly. Relax, and be yourself.
Pro tip: If you’re feeling down or having a bad day, listen to your favorite pump-up song to improve your mood.
Make Friends with Those Who Share Your Interests
It becomes much easier to connect once you discover that you both love the same things. Be proud of the things you're passionate about, and share them openly. Volunteer with organizations that share your same interests, share Facebook and other social media posts about them, stay informed and be willing to talk. You'll be surprised how quickly you'll be able to meet other people who love what you do, too.
Pro tip: Wear t-shirts, add stickers to your laptop and buttons to your backpack or bags that support or promote the issues, people, music, TV shows or other things that you're interested in. It's an easy way to break the ice, and you get to show your love!
Join a New Club or Be a More Involved Member
The easiest (and possibly most nerve-wracking) way to meet those who share your interests? Seek them out. Search for Facebook groups, websites, and within your personal friend groups for existing organizations and clubs that have the same goals and mindset as you! You'll be able to find many different book clubs, service groups, and various other people and organizations that want to talk, learn and think about the same things you do. If you've already found a club or group, get more involved. Come to more meetings, be prepared, offer to bring food or some other help, and, if possible, run for a leadership position.
Pro tip:You often don't have to look much further than your own social circle. Many of your friends and acquaintances may already be involved in something you didn't know about, or that you may really like. Ask around!
Putting yourself in fun and new situations, being brave enough to introduce yourself, and focusing on staying positive, relaxed and YOURSELF are the best ways to make friends. Though all of these steps require a certain amount of courage, the benefit and joy that fresh friendships bring to your life is unmatched. I am so grateful for the times that I reached out, as those people who entered into my life became incredible friends, many of which are in my Choir today!
Questions? Click here to get involved with TRC! We'd love to meet you.