Meeting new people and making friends can be overwhelming, but with a little effort and willingness to step outside of your comfort zone, you can easily make friends. Start by getting yourself out there and looking for places to socialize, like a local club or volunteer organization. Once you start meeting new people, take some time to get to know them and hang out together.
Finding Places to Make New Friends
1. Make yourself available. If you want to make friends, you first need to put yourself out there somehow in order to meet people. If you just sit alone, friends might come to you, but that's not likely. For example, if you're still in school, sit somewhere with other people. It doesn't have to be a crowded table, but try to choose one with at least 2 other people.
- Remember, friends seldom come knocking on your door while you sit at home playing on your laptop.
- If you see opportunities to get out there and meet people, take them. For example, try going to social functions at school or work. If someone invites you to a party, go for it!
2. Join an organization or club to meet new people. This is a great way to find other people who have common interests. You don't necessarily need to have a lot of common interests with people in order to make friends with them. Some of the most rewarding friendships are between 2 people who don't have much in common at all. However, if you like a specific topic, try searching for a location where you can meet people who share that interest.
- For example, you could join the science club at school, the marching band, a knitting group, or any other shared-interest group.
- If you play instruments or sing, try joining a band or choir. Joining a sports team is a good option if you’re the athletic type or just want to try something challenging and new!
- If you’re religious, a church, Mosque, temple, or other houses of worship is a great place to start since you and the other people there will at least have religious faith in common.
Tip: There are lots of online resources for finding groups that share your interests. Try looking at local groups on Meetup.com or browsing groups and events in your area on Facebook.
3. Volunteer for a cause you care about. Volunteering is also a good way for people of all ages to meet others. By working together, you build bonds with people. You may also meet others who have a passion for changing things the way you do (a common cause).
- For example, you might donate your time at a local nursing home, hospital, animal shelter, or non-profit organization.
- Do an online search or call charitable organizations in your area to find volunteering opportunities near you.
4. Try connecting with people you already know. Chances are, you already know a few people who could potentially become good friends. Consider trying to get to know your co-workers, classmates, or even people in your social media network.
- For example, if you’re a parent, you might reach out to the other parents of your child’s classmates. Setting up a play-date for the kids can be a good opportunity for you to get to know some new adult friends.
Making the First Move
- You can talk to anybody: the clerk at the video store, the person sitting next to you on public transit, or the person in front of you in the lunch line. Don't be too picky.
- Having good manners goes a long way. You can start talking to people by simply greeting them with a "Good morning, how are you?" as you pass them by. Showing simple good manners by greeting people makes you seem more friendly and people tend to respond well to it. It's a great way to start communicating with people.
2. Make eye contact and smile. If you don’t present a friendly and inviting appearance, people are less likely to be receptive to your friendship. Look people directly in the eye when they are speaking to you (or when you are speaking to them) and offer them a warm, friendly smile.
Do not squint, look bored, frown, or look deadpan. Try to avoid closed-off body language, like folding your arms or hanging out alone in a corner.
Did you know? Mirroring another person’s body language is a great way to build rapport with them. While you’re talking to someone, try to subtly imitate their expressions and gestures. For example, if they smile or lean forward while talking to you, do the same.
3. Try a variety of conversation starters. Once you find a person you’re interested in becoming friends with, you need to initiate a conversation with that person. This will help you connect with them and start forming a friendship. There are a few different approaches you could try. For example:
Try making a comment about your immediate environment. The weather is a classic: "At least it's not raining like last week!"
Make a request for help: "Can you help me carry a few boxes if you have a minute?" or "Can you help me decide which one of these is a better gift for my mom?" Alternatively, you could offer help. For example, “Hey, do you need a hand cleaning up?
Give a compliment, such as, "That's a nice car," or "I love your shoes." Avoid making the compliment too personal, though, since that can make people uncomfortable.
Follow up immediately with a related question. For example, “Where’d you get those shoes? I’ve been looking for a pair like that.”
4. Keep the conversation going with small talk. If the other person seems interested in continuing the conversation, try to keep it going by asking questions and offering a little information about yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything profound or super personal. The important thing is to show that you can both listen and make interesting contributions to the conversation.
People enjoy talking about themselves and about how great they are or look. By listening more than you talk, you will come across as a desirable friend.
Show that you are listening actively by nodding, maintaining eye contact, and following up what they say with questions or comments
For example, if the other person tells you about their job, you could say something like, “Oh, cool! How did you get into that?”
5. Introduce yourself at the end of the conversation. This can be as simple as saying "Oh, by the way, my name is . . ." Once you introduce yourself, the other person will typically do the same.
- Alternatively, you can open the conversation by introducing yourself. For example, you could approach a new co-worker by saying, “Hi, I’m Sophie. I don’t think we’ve officially met yet, but I work just down the hall from you!”
- Remember their name. If you show that you remembered things from your past conversation(s) with the person, they will see that you were paying attention and taking a genuine interest in them.
6. Ask them out for lunch or coffee. That will give you a better opportunity to talk and get to know each other a little bit better. Invite them to join you for coffee sometime and give them your email address or phone number. This gives the person the opportunity to contact you. They may or may not give you their information in return, but that's fine.
A good way to extend yourself is to say: "Well, I've got to go, but if you ever want to talk over lunch or coffee or anything like that, let me give you my number/e-mail address."
The other person will be more likely to meet up with you if you suggest a specific time and place. For example, you might say, “Hey, it was really fun chatting today! Would you like to get together at the Bagel Palace for coffee and a muffin on Saturday?”
- If it feels awkward to invite them to a one-on-one get together, consider asking them to go to a group event with you, like a party or a movie night.
7. Pursue common interests. If you've discovered that the person you're talking to shares a common interest with you, ask them more about it and, if appropriate, whether they get together with others (in a club, for example) to pursue this interest. If so, this is a perfect opportunity to ask about joining them. If you clearly express interest (when? where? can anyone come?), they'll probably invite you.
If you have a club, band, church, or other group or activity that you think they might enjoy, take the opportunity to give them your number or email address and invite them to join you.
Maintaining Friendships1. Be loyal to your friends. You've probably heard of fair-weather friends. They're the ones who are happy to be around you when things are going well, but are nowhere to be found when you really need them. Being a loyal friend will attract other people to you who value that quality. This is a good way to put your money where your mouth is and attract the kind of friends you want in your life.
- Part of being a friend is being prepared to make sacrifices of your time and energy in order to help out your friends. Just be nice.
- If a friend needs help with an unpleasant chore, or if they just need a shoulder to cry on, be there for them.
Tip: Being a loyal friend doesn’t mean you need to be a people-pleaser or let your friends take advantage of you. It’s important to set healthy boundaries and say “No” sometimes if you need to for the sake of your own wellbeing.
- Check-in with yourself occasionally and ask if you’re being the kind of friend you’d want to have.
- On the other side of the coin, ask yourself if your friend is doing their part. If not, it might be time to have a heart-to-heart talk with your friend (but take care not to make accusations or lay all the blame on them if the friendship isn’t going the way you want).
- If you and your friend agree to meet somewhere, don't be late, and do not stand them up.
- If you're not going to make it on time or make it at all, call them as soon as you realize it. Apologize and ask to reschedule.
- Don't make them wait for you unexpectedly; it's rude, and it is certainly not a good way to launch a potential friendship.
4. Be a good listener. Many people think that in order to be seen as "friend material," they have to appear very interesting. Far more important than this, however, is the ability to show that you're interested in others. Listen carefully to what people say, remember important details about them (their names, their likes, and dislikes), ask questions about their interests, and just take the time to learn more about them.
- You don't want to be the person who always has a better story than anyone else, or who changes the subject abruptly instead of continuing the flow of conversation.
- When you’re listening, focus on what the other person is saying instead of planning what you want to say next. Avoid interrupting, and try not to offer advice unless your friend asks for it.
5. Be trustworthy. One of the best things about having a friend is that you have someone to whom you can talk about anything, even secrets that you hide from the rest of the world. Before people even feel comfortable opening up to you, however, you need to build trust.
- The key to being a good confidante is the ability to keep secrets. It's no secret that you shouldn't tell other people things that were told to you in confidence.
- Don’t talk about your friend behind their back or let them down when they’re depending on you. You can also build their trust by being honest and accountable.
6. Emphasize you're good qualities. Project the good, unique qualities about yourself. Show others what makes you stand apart from the crowd. Talk about your interests and hobbies. Share a little bit about your background with new friends. Everyone has interesting stories to tell—don’t be afraid to share yours. If you are a unique person, then show it.
A little humor always keeps conversation light and happy. People love to be around someone who makes them laugh.
Friendships work best when you and your friend feel comfortable just being yourselves. Embrace your best qualities and let them shine when you’re with your friend, but don’t try to be something you’re not just to please or impress them.
7. Keep in touch with your friends. People often lose contact with their friends because they're either too busy or just don't value their friends enough. When you lose your connection with a friend, the friendship may fizzle out. And when you do try to contact them again, it can be hard to rekindle the friendship.
- Even if you don’t have time for a long conversation or get-together, let your friend know you’re still thinking about them by sending a quick text or dropping by to say “Hi.”
- Maintaining a friendship is hard work. Make time and share your life with your friends. Be respectful of their decisions and share yours with them. Strive to keep in contact over time.