There's something no one tells you about making friends once you become a "real adult." Here it is: making friends is hard! When you were younger, your parents made play-dates for you. Or you were able to smile at someone in your elementary school classroom, only to find that you were quickly beginning a fast friendship.
And during high school and college, you saw your friends almost every day, without needing to make any effort at all. In other words, you basically got institutional support from your school or a college campus to see your friends — either at class, in the hallways, during meetings for a myriad array of extracurricular options and social events. Your social circle was built into your life, a given.
But suddenly once you're out of those somewhat sheltered environments, everything changes — and this includes your social life.
People get busy, and struggle to reach out because they're not expecting to have to make such an effort. In fact, making friends (and even making plans with existing friends) becomes a lot like dating: who do you want to spend time with? How do you find them? How do you turn an acquaintance into best friends?
You'd be amazed by how hard this can be. But, it can also become super easy with these three simple steps. I'll provide you with a kind of "system" to follow when you want to focus on expanding your social circle and cultivating new friendships.
Today, I'll show you exactly how ...
1. Hang out with other people's friends.
Don't freak out if you only know a small number of people. Have you ever considered that your friends have other friends or people they know (co-workers, their significant other's friends, etc.) who would be great for you to meet?
Write down three people who you could ask: "Hey ... who else do you know that you'd think I'd get along with really well? I'd love to meet more people." Another line you could use is, "Hey, who's the most interesting person you know?" And then ask to meet them in an informal setting, like a get-together or dinner.
2. Introduce your friends who don't know each other.
People want to hang out with other people who are similar to them — a great example of this is entrepreneurs who like hanging out with entrepreneurs because they "get" each other (priorities, professional life, daily life activities, and so forth). The same goes for virtually every other social clique or circle in history. Have you ever considered that you could be the "hub" for getting other people to connect? Especially if they could do business together, date each other, or really hit it off as friends?
Now, name three people who you know who you think you can introduce to someone else. These could be co-workers (there are people who work in the same office but do not know the other exists), even strangers you've already met, or two friends you have who don't know each other, or even email introducing co-workers who don't know each other (if you're at a large company).
This positions you as "a person who knows people," and the more you do this, you'll start finding people coming to you asking who they should meet, who they should talk to, and asking you to introduce them to other people. I've introduced people who I felt would really hit it off, gotten friends interviews with high-profile people, recommended service providers to — all because I want to do it genuinely in my heart, and because it's how people see that you're someone of value they should associate with.
And the truth is, it is rare for people to take this kind of initiative, so this is one of the easiest ways for you to stand out — and do over and over again!
Advanced tip: Invite all of your friends who don't know each other to your house or apartment for a small, intimate dinner party. This is a great way to accelerate the process!
3. Get close with your calendar.
I know the last thing anyone wants to do is need to schedule time with friends, but the reality is that the busier we get, the harder it is to keep up. Even with my best friends, I have it on my calendar so I'm focused and present for our time together.
The hardest part for my clients when they do things like this and they'll say things like 'I don't have time' or 'It takes a lot of effort to meet new people'. And you know what I tell them? Of course it does! Like Stephen Covey (from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) says, you have "emotional bank accounts" with people. Which means that in order to develop relationships, you have to make 'deposits' -- like spending time with them — over and over again.
But when you make having a thriving social life a priority — a little bit of magic happens. You're less stressed, you're happier, and you have more to look forward to. What better way to start off a new year (or any day, really)?!
Felicia is giving away a free gift for MindBodyGreen Readers: "How to Make Friends Quickly and Easily" so you can get started exploding your social circle faster in 2015!