How to Make New Friends and Give Your Social Life a Boost

Moving to a new city, changing your job or starting a new college can often leave you feeling lonely, and needing to make some new friends. Or maybe you’re just stuck in a rut, and want to give your current social life a boost.

Sounds like a good idea in principle; you can never have too many friends, but how do you actually go about hooking up with a new crew? Try these tips, they may help you meet new people and form strong, lasting friendships with at least some of them.

1. The remote control is not your friend.

Chances are, you won’t meet too many new people sitting home alone watching TV and moping. If you want to make friends, you first need to meet people. So get out more, no matter where you live, this should be fairly easy.

2. Suppress thy shyness gene.

It might not be easy for some people, I know. Force yourself to go up and say hello to strangers at parties, meetings and gatherings. If you’re very shy, think of yourself as a “successfully shy” person, because you can still make new friends. Strengthen yourself, get rid of any timidity from your heart and approach someone whom you think you have a certain compatibility with. Making the first move takes the pressure off other people, and most of the time they will be relieved that someone else has set the ball rolling.

3. Introduce yourself.

Don’t fake anything, let your prospect know who he is dealing with. If you do, you won’t find it interesting to continue the relationship for you must feel tired of being someone else, not the real you. Visualize him as a friendly, considerate and kind person. Give him information that will make him receptive to you. Make the information benefit-oriented for him. Try phrases like, “I really like that shirt on you, it brings out your blue eyes,” or, “I overheard what you were saying, and I was really fascinated by how much you know about…”

4. Be interesting, not boring.

Even if you’re in a new city where you don’t know a soul, keep up with your interests wherever you can. When you do finally meet some new people, you’ll have something other than soap operas to talk about. It’ll make conversations more interesting if you can talk about something current, such as the latest film or gig you went to. And don’t forget to put that smile on your face, not a smirk but a sincere and nice smile. People would like those who smile a lot more than whose face is lifeless.

5. Ask leading questions.

The reason many people find themselves fighting awkward silences is because they have not prepared any good conversation questions to ask and because of this there is not conversation at all. Ask the person you are talking to a leading question. A leading question is one that provokes more of a response than a mere “yes or “no” Here are some examples: “Do you attend a lot of these charity balls?”; “How do you know the host?”; “Do you work downtown, too? What do you do?” The other person’s responses to these leading questions will let you know if he is interested in you or not. If you try to sell yourself to the person immediately, you will get resistance. If you push too hard or don’t ask your leading questions with true interest and sincerity, you will get negative answers, and the conversation may quickly come to an end.

6. Be a good listener.

Have you ever been in a middle of a conversation when the person you are talking to just gets up and walks away? Or fiddles in the chair? Or looks everywhere but at you? 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. People love to talk about themselves, and the easiest way to be likable is to listen.

7. What makes you tick?

Just be yourself, and find some like-minded others. You don’t necessarily have to have a lot of common interests with people in order to make friends with them — in fact, some of the most rewarding friendships are between two people who don’t have much in common at all — but if you have something in common with people, it can make it a lot easier to talk to them and plan activities initially. If you’re sports mad, join a local team for training or competitions. If you want to help others, why not try volunteering?

8. Open yourself up.

Follow the lead that your listener is expressing. Once the person opens up to you, you can begin to open yourself up to him. You have his attention, and he is interested in you. Once you feel comfortable in his presence, tell him your strongest attributes are, the ones that will appeal to him most. If you get a positive response, you have successfully sold yourself to him. At this point, you can feel free to further develop your new friendship. If the person is unresponsive, it may be that you sound pompous and boastful to him. In this case, you should lower your volume a bit and sound as humble and sincere as possible.

9. Be fun to be around.

You don’t have to be a superstar to be fun. Be a social butterfly and try not to get sucked into long and involved conversations unless that’s what you want. Keep moving. Be positive and friendly, so that people feel good when they’re around you. From the very first conversation you have with someone, you should use body language to convey that you are affable, non-threatening, and approachable. Smile frequently, laugh often, and make eye contact. In your words, be confident, but don’t be cocky, condescending, or mean-spirited.

10. How to handle negative feedback.

Be prepared for some objections from the other person in the course of your conversation. When you interact with other people, remember that they can often make the conversation uncomfortable because of their own insecurities. The best thing to do is to be confident. Respond to each of his objections and try to agree with some part of them. Don’t linger or argue over an objection, accept the other person’s point of view without forcing yours upon him. Make sure that his objection is legitimate, not just an argumentative contest. First, agree that you understand the other person’s objection. Then ask the other person if there are any other reasons for objecting to your underlying reasons for his objections. For example, “Yes, I can see why you feel that way, but I feel that…”

11. Winning the battle.

The final part is the easiest part of your whole selling approach — open up the opportunity for another meeting. This is especially important if you meet someone who you aren’t otherwise likely to meet again. Don’t give him a choice of whether to take you on or not, give him a choice of how to take you on. “Do you have a pen, or would you like to use mine to write down your phone number?” Instead of saying, “Do you want to go out with me?” say, “Would you rather go to a movie or out dancing?” After you have gotten the other person to make some kind of commitment, summarize the proposition and reward the other person for accepting. An example of that is: “Thanks for giving me your phone number. I’m really looking forward to Saturday night.”

12. It’s all in the follow-up.

If you get on well with anyone, keep in touch with them. As always, consider your personal safety with anyone you don’t know very well, and don’t rush into giving them your home address or similar details straight away. Always trust your gut feelings about people. If you feel someone (as nice as they may seem) is not the right person to make friends with, then move along. Don’t just ditch your old friends either, drop them a line every now and again if you’ve moved away.

13. Don’t be clingy.

Making new friends is a lot like dating new people. You never want to seem desperate. Don’t chide acquaintances for failing to invite you to a party, for example; don’t call someone over and over or stop by uninvited; and never overstay your welcome anywhere. Understand if he or she wants to be alone or hang out with other people, and allow it to happen. You probably aren’t their only friend, so don’t be clingy. In general, take friendship slowly, and don’t try to become close to somebody right away. The move from acquaintance to friend can take a long time, and if you appear too clingy, potential friends may think you’re too much work.

14. Patience is a virtue.

Take a deep breath. You shouldn’t be so nervous, you won’t find a new best friend in one afternoon. It can take a while to get to know people, so just relax and take it easy.

So, take the time and initiative to create mutually beneficial relationships with the people around you. You’re sure to be better off for it.

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1 comment so far

  1. Keira on

    Hmm, there seems to be a lot of these posts around. Wonder why. :p


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