When you start a new school, university or even job, there can be a lot of pressure to magically become extremely popular, but just start by making a few good friends. Sounds like a good idea in principle, but how do you actually go about meeting new people?
Suppress thy shyness gene
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. 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.
The remote control is not your friend
Chances are, you won’t meet too many new people sitting home alone watching TV and moping. You really have to get out more, but fortunately you don’t have to be out until late every night. Why not test the water by joining a group of some kind that meets once a week?
What makes you tick?
Friendships are often formed between people who have a common interest. Just be yourself, and find some like-minded others. If you’re sports mad, join a local team for training or competitions. If you want to help others, why not try volunteering?
There are evening and weekend classes on just about any subject you can imagine, and even if you don’t hit it off with anybody there, you’ll still be picking up new skills, and will have something interesting to talk about. University students are generally spoiled for choice, and can join all sorts of clubs and societies at college. Plus, keeping up with your interests will make conversations more interesting.
Pack your social skills
Remember to smile, and try to look relaxed (even if you’re nervous as hell) when meeting new folks. Introduce yourself early on in the conversation, and take an interest in the other person’s answers. Ask open-ended questions that allow the chat to flow easily, rather than closed questions that are just going to be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
It’s all in the follow-up
If you get on well with anyone, offer to swap phone numbers or add them on facebook, and 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. Don’t just ditch your old friends either, drop them a line every now and again if you’ve moved away.
Patience is a virtue
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.
Photo of ‘add as friend’ button by Shutterstock.
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Updated on 25-Sep-2012