“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” ~Albert Camus
NOTE: This is a guest post by Paul Sanders who blogs at Get the Friends You Want
When it comes to work, money, or physical exercise, it’s pretty simple to set goals and achieve them. But when it comes to meeting and making friends, it’s not so simple. You can’t just say “my goal is to be friends with so and so”, or “I plan to make 10 friends in the next 90 days”; it just doesn’t feel very natural or intuitive.
This article is designed to help you solve this problem and show you an effective way to draw plans and strategies to improve your social skills, meet new people, make friends, and build a rewarding social circle.
Why Most Socializing Advice Doesn’t Work, And What to Do About It
Most socializing advice doesn’t work, because it focuses on technique, instead of lifestyle change. I do, in fact, teach many social skills and techniques that work great on their own, but if you don’t make them part of your lifestyle, you won’t get the most out of them.
Change can be hard because if you have to remember to do something, you probably won’t be doing it for very long. If meeting people takes too much of your will power, you just won’t likely do much of it. This is why I had to come up with easier ways to meet new people and make friends. I created a set of habits that simply blend with other areas of my life.
The key is to switch from “doing” your socializing, to having it become an integrated part of your what you do. Here, I want to share with you 3 of my most effective habits for making friends and building social circles…
Instant Change #1 – Attend Monthly Events to Meet New People
In this day and age, if you’re not constantly making new friends, you’re actually losing some. People are constantly moving, changing jobs, changing interests, and getting into relationships, which often cause them to disappear from your life. You therefore need to keep up by constantly making new friends.
One of the best ways to meet new people is to find local communities or clubs where people get together regularly. Look for groups and clubs based on a business area, a sport, a hobby, a social cause, a singles club, or just general networking.
Attend some of their meetings to see which ones are most interesting to you. After that, start going to their events at least once a month, if not more. But don’t make this something you do when you “have time.” Add a reminder to your calendar and consider it a nonnegotiable part of your life.
If you want to make this “stick” even better, try joining the organizing team of that community. When you become a contributing member, it’s much easier to stick to the habit of attending. People will also gravitate to you to get to know you better. It’ll put you in a great place for connecting with new and former members.
Just this technique alone can boost your social life to levels you could only dream of before.
Instant Change #2 – Take an Hour a Week to Reach Out to People
This instant change is about taking one hour, weekly, to touch base with new and existing friends. Use one hour to do nothing else but contact people—by phone, text or Facebook.
This is important because your friendships weaken if you don’t at least periodically nurture them. It’s also important because you have to follow up with the new people you meet; otherwise those friendships will never be created.
The challenge here is that we get distracted in our busy lives and forget to contact people only to regret it afterwards when we do have time to socialize but no one to call, because we’ve ignored everyone for so long.
The solution is to ritualize it: Make it a weekly calendared hour to touch base with people that matter to you. I prefer to do this on Tuesday evening, but you can choose a time when you don’t have anything else to do and dedicate that scheduled hour to reaching out.
When it’s time to do it, ask yourself questions like “Who should I contact?”, “Who do I want to meet in the coming days?”, and “Who did I meet recently that I want to evolve the relationship with?” Your instinct will remind you of people you should contact.
Instant Change #3 – Go Out Weekly
As you start meeting more people, set a time within your week that would be ideal for meeting with them. It’s very important that you don’t just do this once in a while or just when you remember. Instead, make it a habit. To help, provide yourself with a weekly reminder.
If you’ve set out your weekly “reaching out hour” on Tuesday, put a reminder on Thursday to plan a social activity for Friday or Saturday, and suggest it to people via messages, calls or email.
Don’t wait until you want to go out to suggest that people come with you; do it one or two days in advance. As you get to know them better, you can suggest plans with shorter notice. For example, best friends that live in the same city can call each other and make plans to meet in the following hour.
Bonus Tip: Make the people you know meet each other! This will create a little social circle, where people contact the whole group to hang out; this means that they will start to call to hang out as well; you will no longer be the only one doing all the work.
What to Expect Next
You can pick one of the habits above and play with it, adopt and adapt it, and see what it can do for you. But if you adopt all three of them, they kind of blend together to create a powerful machine that constantly gets you to meet new people, stay in touch, make friends, and build social circles.
You won’t know what happened, and you won’t understand where all these friends have been hiding all these years. People will start calling you to make plans, and there will be no shortage of help, support, fun, and interesting adventures with friends.
If you want an easy way to learn other techniques for meeting new people, sign up for my Free Social Skills Newsletter.
In it, I’ll show you the best techniques and strategies for meeting and making friends. I’ll also share with you new tips for having amazing conversations that instantly make people want to get to know you.
Your turn …
- What difficulties have you encountered in building a social circle?
- What have you found works bets at developing close friendships?
- Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Paul Sanders helps people Overcome Shyness and Loneliness, Master Conversation and Social Skills, Make Friends, and Build a Social Circle. Start Here: Free Social Skills Newsletter.