Since I began this blog and networking group in 2016, I have met a number of women (and men) who are new to the area, new to owning a business or are just looking to make new friends and new connections! We have often had conversations about how weird and hard it can be to make true connections and friends in our adult lives but I often champion them for making the effort to show up, as scary as it can be, and put themselves out there! In our adult lives, we are all typically set in our way and we may already have a close knit group of friend or routine of work/life and it’s hard to deviate from the norm. We don’t have the same open opportunities to meet people as much as we did as kids, being in school or in extra-curricular activities. Also, at this point in our lives… we very well could have been burned by friendships or relationships, which can be difficult to overcome for some.
Have friends and being social is an important part of personal growth and we all do it differently and within our own comfort levels. There has even been research that has tied friendship with happiness. A 2014 study found that the frequency of socialization is positively associated with life satisfaction.
If this is something that you struggle with, here are some tips to making new friends in your adult life, regardless if you’re an introvert or an extrovert:
1. Become a joiner
Think about the things you wish you had more time to do. Are you an avid runner whose trails have gotten boring? Join a local running group. Pro tip: although many sports leagues are inherently social, you may want to look for a group that has a built-in social component to ensure conversation beyond the net. If you are more into arts or fashion, look for these groups instead!
2. Take some classes
This doesn’t have to be as serious as going back to school, but if you’re interested in cooking or learning a language, sign up for a class! Check out community colleges, local cooking schools or language institutes in your area, and consider convening a study group outside of your class to practice your Spanish or a writing group to take these new friendships beyond the classroom. If you love crafts, join Craftsy and see who else you can connect with through there.
3. Ask your existing friends
We’re going to assume you like your existing friends and you’re just looking to expand your social circle. Ask your current network who’s in their network. And make it specific — tell your friend, for example, that you’re looking for a yoga buddy or someone to try out new restaurants with. If you are really just trying to find new friends in general, there are dozens of groups on Facebook that can help you connect with people in a different way and then meet them in real life when you feel comfortable doing so.
4. Volunteer for a cause you believe in
Find a cause that you believe in, and volunteer your time. If altruism is something you value in a friend, this is a great way to meet someone whose values align with yours. You know that you have similar interests, and you’ll be sharing an experience together.
5. Find meetups for your interests
It doesn’t always have to be as formal as a club or class. Take whatever strange fascination you have, and there’s probably some sort of meetup for it. Live in downtown Denver and love the Gilmore Girls? There’s a meetup for that. You know you’ll automatically have a ton to talk about — and something you don’t typically get to talk about with others.
6. Look into support groups
Just lost a parent or just got divorced? Struggle with your mental health or live with a chronic condition? Consider looking into a support group. If you’re in your 20s and 30s, The Dinner Party is a great resource for those who have lost someone.
7. Use your kids or pets to your advantage
Whether you have a “furchild” or a human child, you automatically have another way to expand your circle. Find playgroups or activities for your child, and you’re bound to meet some like-minded parents as you watch them on the soccer field. If you’re a pet parent, you might want to try a meetup for your dog breed. Bonus: you’ll be surrounded by so many cute dogs!
8. Organize something yourself
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Create it yourself. Try creating a writing group for novelists if you’re working on finishing your novel, whether it’s your first or fourth. If you’re looking for friends to run with, put together your own running group. Know that initially your group will probably be pretty small, but this allows a way to get to know people in an even more intimate setting.
9. Use social media to your advantage.
Social media is a double-edged sword — it’s sometimes associated with making us more antisocial as a culture and leading to depression. But this discounts that it is social media. It has the power to connect us with others. Use social media to tap into people you haven’t seen in a while or as an avenue to ask your Facebook friends who you should know. Or take any of your interests above, for example, and find an online community you can then take offline. Find local Denver groups and introduce yourself!
If you’re nervous about making new friends as an adult, just remember that everybody has been in this situation at some point — and we promise that nobody is judging you as much as you think they are.