In this age of iPhones glued to our palms and the constant need to be connected electronically rather than physically, it’s no wonder that the adults of our generation have difficulty making friends.
The struggle is real.
While scary, making friends can actually be a lot of fun once you get past the anxiety and fear of rejection, which is something that most adults harbor even if they look like the most poised guy or radiant girl in the room.
Making more friends is more of a science than an art – there is a formula that you can apply to most social situations that will help draw people to you.
Then all you have to do is open up, and they’ll realize that you’re a stand up guy, and they’ll want to befriend you.
You’re not going to make any friends if you stay in every evening sitting on the couch, wearing your sweats, and watching a Netflix marathon.
(Save those lazy days for the Sunday mornings when you’re hung over because you partied like a rock star the night before.)
It doesn’t matter if they’ve released a new season of House Of Cards or Narcos; you need to get out of the house in order to make friends.
Joining a local social sports league or even perusing the groups on MeetUp.com will yield much better chances to casually make friends than heading to the bars alone.
Be active in your pursuit to be where others are in a social setting that allows you to have real conversations (i.e., stay away from noisy clubs and bars where you’ll lose your voice trying to chat up new friends).
Stay off your phone
Going into a social situation alone can be stressful, but if your nerves have you staring at your phone screen all night long, people will avoid you.
As difficult as it might seem, keep your phone in your pocket and out of your handsome face so that people can have the opportunity to engage you.
Set goals for the night
Goal setting is great for three things: New Year’s resolutions, career building, and friend making. Before you leave the house to head to your social function, choose a goal for the night and stick to your guns. Need some examples of great friend making goals?
At tonight’s networking event I will have a conversation with 5 people I don’t know.
I will walk away with at least 2 new contacts before leaving the holiday party tonight.
I will not look at my phone while at the sport’s social kickball game today.
See the common theme yet? I will. Set your mind to one goal, and focus on hitting it. If you end up leaving the event without making your goal, though, don’t worry!
You’re going to have plenty more opportunities to hit those marks next time. Try your best, but don’t beat yourself up.
Look for opportunities to help people
Maybe you’re a graphic designer and you meet a guy at a party who’s just trying to learn design for fun; offering help or advice is a great way to establish a connection in a casual way.
You know, I actually really enjoy talking shop, so let me know if you ever have questions, and we can discuss them over a beer.
On the other side of that coin, people like to feel validated. If you meet a (insert cool job title/hobby here), tell him you’re interested in learning and would love to pick his brain sometime.
Don’t forget to add that you’ll buy the first round of beers in exchange for info. Friendships tend to be best built over mutual interests, so this is a great way to establish a fast connection.
Get contact info
Probably the scariest part of meeting someone new is figuring out how to exchange contact info without coming off as a total psycho. Don’t freak out and simply say, “It was nice to meet you,” and leave.
This will put you in what I like to call the acquaintance zone – that weird grey area where you’ve run into a person too often to be considered strangers but you don’t know them well enough to be friends.
Don’t let potential friends fall into this category because it happens fast and often.
A simple, “I need to run, but can I get your card or FB info? Let’s grab a beer sometime,” will suffice. If the conversation was comfortable and enjoyable, chances are they’ll ask for your info as well.
(They were probably also trying to figure out how to get your info as well, anyway, so you might as well be the confident one.)
Say “Yes” as often as possible
Because contacting a person is as easy as a simple text, we’ve become a generation of flakes and homebodies. Yes, it’s easy to decline an invite via text or messenger, but don’t do it.
Agree to do things as often as you’re invited. Going out is a chance to meet new people and cultivate new friendships. If a potential friend asks you out for a beer, accept and take that time to form a bond with someone cool.
You’ll be glad that you said YES.
Before you head out each time, remember that other people are nervous too. Rejection is a fear that everyone has no matter the social status, career, or physical appearance.
Be confident in who you are, and know that people will enjoy you once they see how amazing you are. You just have to be open and give people as many opportunities as you can to get to know you.