In grade school, making friends was a snap. You looked around the classroom, located a kid whose jumper you liked, bonded over a shared hatred of math, and voila — you were BFFs, or at least BFs until the next grade. After college, however, making new friends becomes increasingly difficult.
Knowing whether people are open to having a new friend or are just being polite is tough. So is finding people with whom you hit if off, especially when you’ve moved to a new place. Although it may take some effort, finding new BFFs isn’t impossible, though.
Tip #1: Hang Out With Co-Workers.
Perhaps the easiest way to make new friends is to hang-out with the people with whom you spend most of your time anyway. If you work at the same company or have similar jobs, then you already have something in common — and studies have shown that having at least one work friend reduces stress levels and increases productivity significantly.
If there aren’t any built-in opportunities for socializing at your office, try sending a casual email to see if anyone wants to meet up for lunch or knows any good places for after-work drinks. Just don’t fall into a trap and gossip about your boss as a way to get chummy after hours. You may think what you’ve said is in confidence, but it could come back to haunt you.
Tip #2: Figure Out What You’re Looking for in a Friend.
Many dating columnists advise making a list of what you want in a potential mate before you begin dating, and, likewise, a list of what you want in a friend. Of course, everyone hopes to find friends who are caring and honest, but try to be more specific: What do you envision yourself doing with your new friends? Do you want a shopping partner? An art-loving friend who will check out museums with you? A friend who has the same spiritual beliefs? If you can decide specifically what interests you’d like your future friends to share, you’ll have an easier time finding ways, such as joining a Meetup.com group, to meet those types of people.
Tip #3: Make Personal Business Cards.
You never know where you might meet a potential friend: the grocery store, a yoga studio, your university’s alumni association. After chatting with someone, don’t just walk away; make an effort to exchange numbers or email, or at least give her yours. If you don’t want to give her your work email or phone number (especially if your boss isn’t so keen on you making personal calls during the day), make up a personal business card with just your name, cell number and email. Giving someone a card is the easiest way to exchange info, and many printing companies, such as Vistaprint.com, offer free cards in exchange for putting their advertising on the back.
Tip #4: Avoid Potential Frenemies.
As much as you would like to make new friends, however, don’t befriend people who will ultimately cause you more distress than joy. As fabulous as a potential friend may be, if she is passive aggressive or if she criticizes you, even subtly, then it’s best to avoid her — because, most likely, it will only get worse, not better.