For some folks, finding friends comes naturally. For others, the process is intimidating. No matter which of these categories you fit into, though, you can improve your chances of finding new friends by making a conscious effort to do so. If you follow some or all of the suggestions made below, your list of friends is likely to lengthen considerably.
1. Join organizations
Just because you join a group doesn’t mean you have to continue. Try signing up to several at a time, and then cull the ones that don’t meet your needs. Each outfit has its own personality, so you need not feel bad if you don’t fit in. I belong to about a dozen organizations, and it took years of joining, attending, quitting, and finding others to come to the point of being satisfied with the ones I have.
2. Volunteer to work on projects
Perhaps you are not a joiner, but you would like to get to know people and at the same time do something productive. Participating in a one-time project might be just the thing for you. As you work with others, you get to know them in ways that attending meetings does not accomplish. When the project is finished, you can elect to stay in the group or move on. Either way, you may gain a friend or two in the process.
3. Attend church
Lots of fine people attend churches. You don’t have to become a member—just show up on a few Sundays to see how you feel about the congregation and atmosphere. A friend of mine explores a different church every week with the hope of finding the woman of his dreams. He has not yet come across her, but he’s gained a lot of friends and acquaintances in the process.
4. Become politically active
Working on a political campaign can be rewarding and at the same time introduce you to people who think along the lines that you do. Just call the headquarters of a national, state, or local candidate and offer to volunteer, and the person who answers will instruct you on what to do.
5. Invite coworkers out after work
Working all day without bonding with your coworkers is boring. Try to find opportunities to meet with other employees at a restaurant, coffee shop, or bar after work. Hopefully, from among your colleagues, you’ll gain at least one permanent pal.
6. Have dinner parties
These days, people hesitate to invite friends into their homes, largely because they don’t want to cook and clean. No better way exists, however, to firm up your friendship base and expand your social possibilities than by opening your home to others. In addition, you can ask your friends to bring guests and in that way meet someone new. Not only will your parties allow you to socialize, but they will also generate reciprocal invitations to dine.
7. Accompany friends to their activities
Ask your friends about the activities in which they or their children are engaged, and offer to accompany them to some selected events. Other folks they know are likely attend as well, and you will have opportunities to meet them and whoever else is present at the gathering.
8. Sign up for classes
Taking classes at a civic center or local community college is an excellent way to add new people to your life. If you select subjects that interest you, you’ll have something in common with your newfound acquaintances right away.
9. Start a hobby
Becoming an active hobbyist is a good way to find others who have interests that are similar to your own. If you’re passionate about the subject matter, and the others in the group are equally engaged, you’ll find that the friendships that grow out of that common ground will be stimulating and satisfying.
10. Begin a blog or website
Establishing a blog or website can help you connect with others, but only if the site deals with matters of local concern. My own blogs target audiences that are too broad to generate friends in my geographic area, although I have met some interesting folks through Internet forums. I have friends, though, who run niche websites with largely local readership, and their friendship bases have swelled because of their Internet-related activities.
11. Attend social and civic events
Each December, I make a list of my personal goals for the upcoming year, and I review the items on a monthly basis as the year progresses. One item that I always add is to attend an event once a week, and maintaining that discipline has helped me expand my friendship base. Examples of events include the opening of an exposition at a museum, a happy-hour organized by the chamber of commerce, or the fire department’s yearly ice-cream social.
12. Print personal cards
As I move about in my community, I am constantly amazed at the number of people who do not have business cards. Since my work is varied, I have a generic card with my name, address, phone number, email address, and blog urls that serves me well no matter what the situation.
13. Speak in public
Many organizations are desperate for speakers for their meetings. Just contact the program coordinator, and most likely you’ll receive a warm welcome. Such appearances may give you a boost professionally, and they will introduce you to people who are active in the community. I’ve found that public speaking is self-perpetuating. Often someone sitting in the audience is the program coordinator for yet another volunteer organization. Some ideas include the Lions Club, Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club, Chamber of Commerce, and meetups.
Surely, other excellent ways to find friends exist, but I hope I’ve covered most of the more effective ones. No matter what method you attempt, though, your winning, positive attitude will be the principal force in attracting potential friends to you. Smile and direct the conversation away from yourself, and you’ll find your social schedule will be full in no time.