A Simple Guide to Making New Friends

“Blessed are those who have the gift of making friends, for it is one of God's best gifts. It involves many things, but above all, the power of going out of one's self, and appreciating whatever is noble and loving in another.” ~Thomas Hughes

Our old friends are like comfortable blue jeans. They are worn in, reliable, non-binding, cozy, patched in places, but still a perfect fit. We've had them so long, they are like second skin.

Old friendships are worth tending, nurturing and growing because these are the people who love us and see the best in us in spite of our flaws. Over the course of a lifetime, you may have a handful of really deep and intimate friendships. Sometimes these few friendships are enough. They are so comfortable that the idea of making new friends seems unnecessary — and even a little intimidating.

Why is it worthwhile to expand your circle of friends and reach out to new people? There are several reasons:

  • Although no one can replace old and dear friends, new people in your life can open new possibilities for you intellectually, professionally, physically and spiritually. New people in your life expose you to new ideas, hobbies, interests, perspectives, and opportunities.
  • New friends allow you to tap in to areas of yourself that are dormant or yet to be discovered. I recently became a member of a blogging club, and I have learned so much about myself, my untapped abilities, and new career possibilities. Plus, I have new friends all over the world who have invited me for a visit!
  • New friends broaden your sphere of influence. Do you have something valuable to offer the world? It doesn't have to be a great idea or service or product.  Even the smallest acts of kindness, love and generosity shared with another has a ripple effect on the world. There is no better place to start this ripple than with a friend.
  • One new friend can provide you with a network of potential additional new friends. You will be introduced to the friends of your new friend, and your circle of friendships can continue to grow exponentially if you desire it.
  • Putting yourself out there and reaching out to other people forces you to step out of your comfort zone and to stretch yourself. It might be uncomfortable at first, but the pay-off is tremendous. Don't let shyness or inertia prevent you from enjoying the shared value and benefits of interesting new friends.

If you agree with the premise that making new friends is a valuable part of personal growth, then the next step is taking action toward creating those friendships.

This is not a passive activity. There are things to be done!

1.  Who are you seeking? Spend some time thinking about where to start. Although many friendships happen organically, if you are actively seeking new friends, you have to plan for it. Are you looking to expand your professional network? Do you want a companion with whom you can enjoy activities or hobbies? Do you want someone who will fit in with your existing circle of friends? Determine what you are looking for in a friendship, as this will help guide you to places to find these friends.

2.  Where can you find them? Think about places where you might meet some of these people.  Join networking groups, clubs or organizations for your hobbies, social groups at your place of worship, book clubs or volunteer activities. If you are more introverted, this will be a stretch for you, but do it anyway. Reach out to other people at these events and initiate conversations.

3.  Learn the art of conversation. This comes naturally for some, but not for everyone. The key is being truly curious and interested in people, because everyone has something unique to offer. The art of conversing with someone new can begin by finding  areas of commonality.  Ask questions of this potential new friend so you can find shared interests and experiences. Look the person in the eye and show real interest in what they are saying, without looking around at others in the room.  Use their name several times during the conversation to help you remember the person. Don't forget to exchange business cards, email addresses or phone numbers.

4.  Take advantage of unexpected connections. If you have been invited to party or other event, make a point of reaching out to new people rather than socializing solely with the same group of friends. Introduce yourself and strike up a conversation. Be approachable and authentic so that people feel comfortable talking with you.

5.  Be the connector. After you have met someone new who has “friend potential,” take the initiative to follow up. Contact them and suggest getting together for lunch or an activity you both enjoy. Be sure the activity allows you time to talk with your new friend to get to know them better. If you don't want the pressure of a one-on-one meeting, include the new person in a group event or with another established friend or two. You may need to be the connector for a while until the friendship is established.

6.  Be neighborly. Sometimes potential great friendships are right in our back yards — literally. It's surprising how many people don't really know their own neighbors. Invite some neighbors over for coffee or cocktails. Arrange a block party or a progressive dinner. Get to know the people right around you. These can be some of your best and most convenient friendships!

7.  Work the web. There are so many social media opportunities for meeting people — from networking meet-ups to Facebook and Twitter. Make the connections, but then get out there. Real friendships happen face-to-face, not through the computer. Any new meeting with a stranger should occur in a public place and with another friend tagging along for safety.

8.  Nurture the friendship. Once a new friendship is off the ground, you must continue to do your part to keep it growing. Initiate phone calls and activities. Remember birthdays. Be a good listener and an authentic sharer. Be there for your friend in the good times but especially during the bad times when they need you most.

9.  Remember common courtesy. As friendships become stronger, it's easy to get so comfortable that you take your friend for granted.  Don't lose a friendship you've worked so hard to cultivate by forgetting basic courtesies. Be reliable and on time. Be honest and trustworthy — don't lie or gossip about your friend or share their private information. Show gratitude and let your friends know frequently how much you value them.

10.  Be the first to make amends. Your friendship may hit a bump in the road — a disagreement, hurt feelings, or misunderstandings. Don't wait for the other person to step forward, even if you believe you are blameless in the situation. Work immediately to repair a tear in the friendship before it becomes a big hole.

Once you have developed new friendships, be sure to share your new friends with your old ones. Build a beautiful fabric of friendship that is interwoven with people from all walks of your life. Now you can enjoy the wide variety of interesting, fun and wonderful people you have gathered into your life and share them with each other. The fabric will continue to expand as you and your network develops even more new friendships.

Friendships are a huge part of a joyful and meaningful life. If you want to find more meaning in your life, please download my FREE eBook, How to Live a Meaningful Life.

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  1. Christopher Lovejoy says:

    Hi Barrie, your generosity and kindness shine through this post. I, for one, appreciate the time you took to express these qualities for the sake of guiding others. It’s a rare and beautiful thing to drink from a wellspring that carries a benevolent sense of life. Thank you sincerely. By the way, I enjoyed reading your eBook. Well done.

    .-= Christopher Lovejoy´s last blog ..The Seven Deadly Sins =-.

  2. Thanks for the pointers Barrie.

    This is an area in my life I would like to improve. My natural tendency is to isolate. While I enjoy spending time with my wife and family, I usually stop there. Your post has inspired me to reach out and expand my circle of friends.


    • Barrie Davenport says:

      Sometimes there are seasons in our lives that require us to narrow our circle. When you have a young family, you are so busy chasing kids and working that making new friends seems like a luxury. But once you come up for air, you have to start making an effort again to reach out to people. There are so many fun and interesting people — beyond the play group or PTA or work!

  3. Tess The Bold Life says:

    I can speak in front of a 1000 people with ease and when it becomes more intimate with one to three people I have more difficulty. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them this but it’s true. I’m much better at it than I used to be yet at times it’s still uncomfortable! Nice!
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last blog ..Feeling Jealous Shine Your Light On It… =-.

    • Barrie Davenport says:

      That’s so interesting Tess. I am just the opposite — very comfortable with small groups but would rather pull out my fingernails than stand in front of thousands! Maybe we can coach each other!

    • Tess, I’m exactly the same way! For years, I taught large college classes, and my theory is that people are less apt to challenge what I’m saying if it’s in front of a large group. Small group, and I feel more defensive sometimes.

  4. Barrie,
    Such great, great stuff!

    At times, I find this a challenge…and then other times…it feels like it almost comes naturally. I guess it’s probably worth me digging into this a bit – to see what it is that holds me back in those moments where this is more of a challenge…
    .-= Lance´s last blog ..You’re Beautiful!…Yes- YOU! =-.

  5. Barrie Davenport says:

    I think everyone is that way. Sometimes we just don’t want to make the effort to put ourselves out there. It takes energy and attention to build friendships. But there are many rewards in the long run!

  6. I think “be the connector” is a really important one. I often meet someone I think would be good friend material but let the connection drop. These are great reminders of how to be a friend, cultivate friendship, build a “fabric” of friends, and value the ones you have. It truly value your friendship, Barrie and appreciate your continued support and inspiration.
    .-= Katie´s last blog ..How to Launch Your Own Mutiny &amp Toss That Unhealthy Self Overboard =-.

  7. Barrie,

    Friends and relationships really have a huge impact on how we behave and feel. They impact the things we do and the person we can become. Old friends truly are important and there are friendships that last a lifetime. Though many friendships come and go and we must learn to develop new friendships. Making it a conscious process, and seeking out company that helps us be the person we want to be, can provide the means to learn new things, experience growth in new areas, and meet even more extraordinary people.
    .-= Joe Wilner´s last blog ..How to Sabotage your Success- 5 Things NOT to Do =-.

  8. A very timely post, Barrie! My partner and I are just about to move to another part of the country and have been talking a lot about our current friendships and whether they will survive the move. Also, about how to make new friends at our age (50s) in a strange place with no dogs or children to break the ice! My partner is an artist who works from home, so it’s very important to her to create a support network quite quickly. On the other hand, I run singing workshops so my work is very sociable. The only downside is that it’s quite hard to get on to the next stage: from casual acquaintances to true friends.

    And finally … we will be living together for the first time so this will be our first experience of making friends as a couple.

    So … time to sweep away the old, put ourselves out there and embrace the new!

    .-= Chris Rowbury´s last blog ..How to get the best from your singers- don’t tell them it’s hard =-.