By that point in your life, you might see yourself as an adult with a full-fledged schedule and multiple responsibilities that keep you away from making new friends. You probably think there’s no time for meeting new, exciting people, and you have a bunch of high-school friends you meet here and there.
Or, you might consider yourself a shy, introverted, and independent person who doesn’t need more than a couple of mates he can feel close and comfortable to open up.
However, the social dimension is a part of your wellness state.
Even if you have a wonderful family and a support system of friends already, there will be times you’ll seek the presence of new exciting individuals who can teach things you haven’t heard, inspire you with their stories, or listen to you.
Enriching your community with like-minded people and sharing with them whatever flows on your soul is one of the most rewarding aspects of socialization.
But how do you make new friends? And most importantly, how do you turn acquaintances into meaningful friendships?
First things first:
1) How to make friends: Join online groups or platforms of mutual interests
A common ground of mutual interests with people curious about the same things can build great discussions and cause more in-depth connections.
Not only do you enrich your knowledge in your interests by reading opinions and points of view from different people, but you also get to know those people through suggestions, advice, or networking.
Whether your hobby is cooking, blogging, writing, dancing, or hiking, communities with people who are passionate about your shared interests is a great way to stretch your social cycle.
In my attempt to learn Portuguese, I joined Busuu.com, one of the most excellent online platforms to learn a new language.
I had other native students correcting my exercises (speaking and writing) and got the opportunity to discuss more and help them with my native language (and My English).
I made a great friend from Brazil through Busuu, one of the most exciting introverts I ever met. (Well, I haven’t met him in person yet.)
We began by correcting each other and sharing our passion for new languages and cultures, and we pretty much ended up talking about everything on Whatsapp.
Another great platform I joined is Internations, where I had the opportunity to meet people from abroad who shared the same interests and were in the same city.
2) How to make friends: Take an active part in communities related to your hobbies
Joining these communities and reading about all those hobbies and interests you have is the first step, which alone won’t bring new people into your life.
You have to be willing to help, offer unsolicited advice, ask for feedback, initiate discussions, and overall take an active part in your community.
If your class is not online -for example, it can be cooking, photography, or dancing- the opportunity for meeting people is even more significant, as a face to face interaction is more personalized.
So, you only have to get yourself out there and be willing and open to anyone and everything that comes to you. Not that hard, huh?
3) How to make friends: Participate in social networking activities (even virtual ones)
During our covid-19 era (and even post covid), people struggle to gather with strangers, making interpersonal contact a past trend. So, the personalized interaction I mentioned above might be a bit far from today.
However, this whole new reality made video platforms a new place to gather, network, and meet new people, not just those close to you.
Platforms like meetup.com can help you find many virtual networking activities with people sharing similar passions or even meetups in your neighborhood with a limited capacity.
If you’re up for a challenge, you can create a networking group and host your own event!
Also, as mentioned above, if you’re in a new country -or your town and you are keen to meet people from other places- you can join Internations.com, a platform specialized for ex-pats that will make you feel at home – and connect you with like-minded people from your city and all over the world.
4) How to make friends: Treat the awkwardness of initiating conversations as a challenge
I get how clumsy it can be to think of subjects to break the ice – and be the first to do it, especially if you’re a natural introvert. But what if you treat it as a game?
When you realize you have not much to lose by getting first to people and telling them stuff- whether that is asking their names, offering a sincere compliment, or making a comment about the party- it will be easier than it feels at first. What is the worst that can happen?
Alright, someone might ignore you or be ruder than you expected. If you face it as a part of the challenge, it won’t be that scary after all.
5) How to maintain good friendships: Realize the fear is in your head
When I moved to Asia, I found it extremely tough to bond with people. I thought that my Western European look would be too much. I also thought I have nothing in common to empathize or discuss with others.
And then I realized it’s in my head.
People share many more common feelings, experiences, and ideas than you can imagine, even if they are from different educational, cultural, and national backgrounds.
You can either emphasize the differences that disconnect you or allow yourself to explore all those unexpected common points that bring you closer. It’s pretty much a matter of focus.
6) How to maintain good friendships: Remember names
I’m probably the worst person at remembering names. Even if the other person interests me a lot, it’s like my mind goes blank after hearing a name, and it’s slipping away in seconds.
However, I always remind myself of how crucial it is to remember how a person is called, especially when you engage in a conversation. In his timeless book, How to Win Friends and influence people, Dale Carnegie, puts it nicely;
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in every language.”
The most efficient strategy I developed to improve that skill was repeating the name after the first introduction.
“Nice to meet you, John, Mary, Nick.” When I repeat the name shortly after we introduce each other, it becomes somehow easier to memorize.
Even if you follow all the above six steps, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the people you’ll meet will build a quality friendship with you. I’ve written some articles on the topic, but let’s sum up the tips that will make you a friend keeper.
7) How to maintain good friendships: Don’t be indifferent or sarcastic, and don’t criticize
I met quite a handful of people who, from the first conversation, barely asked me anything. And even if they did, they seemed in a rush to quickly form their conclusions about what I said or try to make a joke out of it – which sounded more like an indirect criticism-.
Maybe it was a heavy-handed attempt to seem cool or break the ice, or whatever.
I also (I’m not a saint) found myself condemning someone just because she had a temper or a bad day.
Instead of criticizing people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to identify why they do what they do. Trust me; you will find it more intriguing than being sarcastic, criticizing, or drafting fast conclusions whether you like someone or not based solely on a sample of opinion.
Let the other people talk themselves out. They know more about their problems than you do.
8) Give honest and non-judgmental feedback
Giving constructive feedback, especially when it’s asked, is one of the essential characteristics that will make you outstanding in the eyes of your listener. Try to cultivate your empathy and see the conversation from the other’s point of view.
How would you feel if you were she?
What would you like to hear that would help and stimulate you?
Show respect, be honest, and always start in a friendly way. If you’re able to put yourself in another’s person shoes, you’ll get completely why is a quality friendship important.
9) Become genuinely interested in other personalities
People are complex creatures. Remember that if you want to understand and help others – a prerequisite for any real friendship – you have to be genuinely interested in the other person’s mood, feelings, opinions, and personality. You’ll also find it easier to connect with someone when you get to know him better.
If you aspire to develop real connections, you will help and understand yourself better from the eyes of your friend. That’s what a pure quality relationship is.
A pretentious interest leads to a pretentious friendship.
10) Make others feel important with sincere compliments
When you put effort into complimenting, choose to applause whatever comes naturally to your mind about someone. Usually, when we want to impress or make a person feel good, we already like him, so compliments should flow spontaneously.
If you can’t find a single thing you like or admire, better say nothing than faking it. Instead, reconsider the reason you’d ever want to make that person feel special.
Usually, someone can fake a compliment because she wants to be liked by that person and not because she genuinely likes that person. You get how different that is. In my article on how to be a better person to yourself and to others, the number 1 thing that matters is authenticity.
If whatever you admire doesn’t come smoothly on your conscience, maybe he’s not that special in your eyes after all.
Let him get the compliment from the ones who’d mean it, and don’t bother boosting your ego by winning likes for the fake appraisal.
11) Encourage others to speak and then listen attentively
The best way to encourage others to speak is to ask a lot of questions. Not in an interrogating way, but more out of pure interest in someone’s stories and character.
To be interesting, you have to be interested in others. And to make a great conversation, you have to learn how to listen attentively. People who talk more about themselves show that they mainly think about themselves. People who listen mindfully are better.
When you ask someone questions that he’d enjoy answering, your encouragement inspires him to unfold parts of his sparkling personality and to talk about his accomplishments.
Who doesn’t like to be reminded of their unique self?
12) Acknowledge common points – and emphasize on them
When you start a conversation, don’t begin by discussing the things on which you differ. Begin by acknowledging -and keep on doing it as the conversation progresses- anything that connects you.
That might be an identical story, feeling, or conclusion. Not only shared experiences build friendships. A similar experience can also be a small starting stone.
Don’t just say, “I agree.”
Emphasize by saying, “You know what we have in common?” or “I’m glad I finally found someone I relate so much with.”
You feel the difference.
Conclusion: How to make friends (and how to be a good friend)
By that time, you probably understand the importance of friendship. To recap, here are 12 ways on how to meet new people and keep them in your life as quality friendships:
- Join online groups or platforms of mutual interest
- Take an active part in communities related to your hobbies.
- Participate in social (and virtual) networking activities
- Initiate conversations
- Realize the fear is in your head
- Remember names
- Don’t criticize, and don’t be indifferent or sarcastic.
- Give honest and non-judgmental feedback.
- Become interested in other personalities
- Make others feel important.
- Encourage others to speak and then listen attentively.
- Acknowledge common points and emphasize on them