Remember how easy it was to make friends when you were a kid? You met someone in class or in the schoolyard; you liked the same things; you invited them over to your house to play. The next thing you knew you were inseparable. Best Friends.
In the last few weeks at least seven different people (four women and three guys) have expressed to me that they were missing something in their life. Friends. Buddies. People that they could just hang-out with besides their significant other.
A few of these people had recently moved to a new city, or had gone through some other life changes that had left them without any friends; or, not within a 2 hour drive anyway. Certainly not conducive to a, “Hey, wanna go to the driving range on Saturday?” or “Let’s hit the big sale this weekend.” relationship.
We all go through this from time to time. Friendships ebb and flow. We move for a job. Our friends get married and have children; move away; or have other responsibilities that seem to take priority. But if you have found yourself in the market for friend, I’m here to give you some ideas on how to go about finding that new buddy!
Good relationships are often built between people with common interests. So start by making a list of things you enjoy and would like to do with other people, e.g., biking, cooking, softball, golf, photography, reading, theater, fashion, Salsa dancing, wine tasting, beer making, dining out, hiking, movies, oil painting, swimming, card games, travel, etc.
Are you into fitness? Would you like to start a running program? Would you like to learn to cook; or learn to speak another language? Do you have small children and want to meet other parents?
Now that you know what you’re interested in, let’s find your new friends …
Start Where You’re At
Do you go to church or the gym? Be consistent. Attend to the same service (church) or class (at the gym) each week so you will see the same people each time. This will make it easier to strike up a conversation. Try to find common interests. Pretty soon you will find someone who you click with. Then once you feel the time is right, suggest going to lunch (if you both like Thai food) or coffee (if you know she also loves Starbucks®). You get the idea.
Never Eat Alone
If you work outside of the home, perhaps there is a person at work that you have a good working relationship with – why not invite them to lunch. Depending on the situation, suggest going out to eat, or just “brown bag” it in the employee lounge. Many people would love to eat with someone else but are too shy to ask. So just ask. Send an email if that makes it easier. But just ask!
Join the Company Softball or Bowling League
This is a fun way to get to know your colleagues and other people in the community. Team members and their friends will sometimes hang out after the game or go out for pizza, etc. – another good socializing opportunity.
Turn Business Connections into Personal Connections
If you belong to a trade association or other business group, attend your business mixers and join committees. When you meet someone and you find you have some personal things in common (from your list) invite them to one of your functions. ( e.g. “It’s nice to meet someone else who enjoys reading as much as I do. You would probably love this Book Club I belong to. It’s totally casual – just a few of us who get together to discuss a book and enjoy some wine and cheese. This month we are discussing XYZ. Would you like to come with me and check it out?”)
Did you know that there are Meet Up groups for just about every type of interest you can imagine, in just about every city in the US and abroad? Go on-line to www.meetup.com and enter your Interest, along with your City and State or zip code, and see what groups pop up. There are large and small groups. You can even start a group of your own. You will probably find a group to Meet Up with within the next few days.
Now that you have some ideas of places to meet new people, you have to show up. Just as Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up,” a big part of making new friends is showing up. So get off your couch, get out there and meet people.
Don’t be shy. If you hit it off with someone, don’t be afraid to ask for their phone number/business card, or ask if they’d be interested in meeting for a coffee/lunch/drink/whatever.
I met one of my best friends Heidi just this way. I was refreshing my makeup in a hotel ladies room following a conference I had just finished, when a woman I had worked with over the past couple of days and I struck up a conversation about how difficult it is to meet women. We were both new to town, and were both having an easier time getting dates then finding women friends.
Then one of us just went out on a limb and said, “Hey, would you like to meet for coffee sometime?” We exchanged cards, and about a week later we spoke on the phone and set up a coffee “date”.
The day we met for coffee we sat and talked for hours – about everything – from adjusting to life in a new city, to dating, traveling, and our jobs in the event planning industry. We couldn’t believe how much we had in common. A few days later we got together again. And then again. Next thing I knew we were inseparable. Best Friends.