ways to make friends

Ten Steps to Starting Friendships

I've been consumed with researching and developing content for my next book, Frientimacy (so cannot wait to share with you what I'm putting together to help us bridge the gap between the intimacy we have and the intimacy we need and want!) which will come out, most likely in the Spring of 2016. But as I've been focused on what it means to deepen friendships--really, really, really, deepen them-- it reminded me today that I also need to keep talking about how to start friendships!  If you're in a place where you need to be gathering up people to befriend, then here's a quick list of my best advice for creating new friendships!

The Ten Steps to Starting Friendships:580791_10151421238572435_941490495_n

  1. Own the Opportunity: Value friendship enough to do something about it! Be proud of yourself that you're responding to your truth that you were made for more connecting!
  2. Use Your Resources: Offer to help someone local host a dinner party with their friends. E-mail your friends from across the country and ask them if they know any fun women in your area they can connect you with since you're new! Look through your friends' local friends on Facebook and introduce yourself. Follow locals on Twitter and see what events they're inviting people to attend. (For more ideas, read chapter 5 of my book!)
  3. Practice Friendliness: Even if you're shy, you simply have to decide what places feel authentic for you to be practicing friendliness: association meetings, lectures, networking events, the dog park, church, poetry readings, cafes, classes, and so on.
  4. Affirm Her: No need to talk about the weather! Start conversations with the things you noticed about them: their hair, their outfit, their confidence, their laugh. We like people who like us.
  5. Invite: Just making small talk with someone in the locker room after yoga is hardly the same as making a friend. As you meet women that you want to get to know better, you have to take the friendly chat to the next level. Try this: "Want to get a drink after class sometime next week?"
  6. Be Specific about your Availability: The disease of "we should get together sometime" can ruin the best of potential BFFs. Instead, try, "I'm usually available for happy hour most nights or for Sunday morning brunches. What works best for you?"
  7. Ask Personal Questions: By personal, I don't mean private, but make sure conversation is about the two of you. Don't risk an entire evening wasted on celebrity gossip, the latest movies, and hairstyles-gone-bad. These subjects feel temporarily bonding, but you haven't shared yourself. Ask her why she appreciates where she works, what she's got coming up that matters to her, what she loves to do in your new city, or what her highlights have been in the last few weeks.
  8. Share the Positive: It's a proven fact that we want friends to improve our happiness and health, not to bring us down. We haven't earned that right yet to cry on each other’s shoulders. For now we will be warm, positive, and open-minded—someone she wants to spend more time with.
  9. Follow Up. If it were a new romantic relationship, we'd be less than thrilled if he didn't call for a week after our first date. Give the same respect to the women you connect with by writing an e-mail or text of thanks, expressing interest in getting to know her better.
  10. Follow Up If it were for work or romance, we’d suggest the very next opening on our calendar when we could pull off another rendezvous! Why delay for friendship? Let's just say it takes 6-10 times of connecting with someone before we feel "close" to them. Why spread those out over a year if you can make a friend in two months of weekly get-togethers? Momentum helps the bond—keep getting together as frequently as possible.

Hopefully this list helps inspire you to be intentional as you're meeting people and serves to remind you that waaaay more important than simply meeting people is how you treat the people you're meeting and how you're following up with them.  Most of us actually meet enough people, we're just not thinking of them as potential friends and doing something about it!

I'd encourage you to pick the step that is hardest for you-- step #1 of actually admitting the need?  Step #5 of initiating some time together? Step #8 of focusing on adding value and joy to your time together? Step #10 of repeating the get-togethers a few more times and trusting that with each time your friendship will feel better?-- and focusing on practicing that one!

Are you willing to share with us in the comment section which step you find most challenging? :)

This list is an excerpt from my book Friendships Don't Just Happen: The Guide to Creating a Meaningful Circle of Girlfriends, found on page 125.

Not a "Joiner"? Something to Consider...

Last night I stopped by a friend's house to drop off some homemade banana bread (I have to brag about that for one second because I do things like way too infrequently!) and left her home with a blog idea I wanted to write based on her recent decision to put her child into preschool.  What does preschool have to do with you making friends? So glad you asked. "But I'm not a Joiner!"

So the traditional answer that most friendship experts give to women who are looking to make new friends has to do with things with the word "join" in them.  Whether it's joining a book or hiking club, signing up for a class, going to a spiritual community, or committing to volunteer at an organization-- the underlying message is: say yes to a group of people who are already affiliated to be doing a specific thing at a specific time.

Hesitant to join a group? Many of us know the feeling.. but there are benefits to it!

Invariably then, many women (or reporters if the question was asked in an interview) will then often say, "Yes... but what if I'm not a 'joiner'?"  When I ask them why not, they'll say that either those experiences feel artificial, the events are too structured, the associations don't have enough flexibility to them, or that they simply don't see themselves as people who like interacting in groups. Fair enough.

Now back to the preschool conversation.

A couple of weeks ago my friend had given me a convincing list of why she and her husband had decided to opt out of preschool this year.  Basically they had decided that they wanted to be more active in providing the benefits of preschool (i.e. interaction with kids, exposure to creativity, learning stimulation) themselves rather than paying someone else to do those things for them.  They were excited about field-trips they wanted to take her on, experiences they wanted to plan, and play-dates they were going to schedule.

But recently they changed their minds. And a lot of it had to do with the benefits of joining something.

Because as they said last night, "We just realized how much energy it was going to take to do everything we had pictured... and, to be honest, all that planning, scheduling, and initiating to create our own experience wouldn't leave us the energy we need for some other big life areas we need to be focusing on."

If energy were limitless, then for the sake of argument, it is probable that they could have customized an amazing, perhaps superior, substitute schedule to preschool. But energy is not without limits and they have some big endeavors coming up that are important to them to plan, create, and make happen, too.  They chose to ask themselves, "Is the time, finances, and energy worth it to us to create something, rather than participate in something that already exists?"  Either answer is acceptable, depending on what else someone has going on, how much energy they have for planning, and how many other priorities are competing with this one.

Now back to "Joining."

So when someone says to me that they aren't a joiner... I'm completely fine with that!  I have no reason to urge someone to commit to anything that isn't in harmony with who they are.  However, friendships require seeing the same people frequently, doing something together (i.e. meet for lunch, an activity) that has to be planned, and making sure it's scheduled in consistently.

Therefore the follow-up question begs to be asked: "Okay, are you willing to do, and have the extra energy to exert, what it takes on your own to create the things that "joining" can do for you?"

In other words, can you commit to 1)  meeting new people and reaching out to them regularly, 2)  initiating the making of plans, whether it's picking a restaurant and time or finding a movie to go to, 3) and following up with repeatedly to make sure that your time together keeps happening consistently? All of those things are do-able. But it requires a fair amount of commitment, energy, time, and planning to pull it off.  It's worth looking at your life and deciding what other priorities are pulling at you right now and how much time/energy do you want to put toward building new relationships?

The truth is that "joining" anything is so not necessary.  Nor is it often even better.  It's just often easier.

So if you find yourself wishing for more friends or activities in your life, and you don't want to join something, then you just have to be clear that a meaningful friendship requires time together, plans of some kind, and initiation to keep it scheduled.

It's for ease, convenience, and energy-management that many of us will end up opting to step into structures that are already planned and organized. We join churches, classes, sports teams, choirs, boards, associations, clubs... and preschools-- not always because those actual things are superior to what we could plan, but purely because they are superior to what we actually do plan!

If my friends had nothing else going on in their lives... I trust they could piecemeal an amazing childhood schedule filled with friends, play, creativity, and learning.  But in this case joining a preschool made sense for them.

An added bonus? The preschool they've chosen is very parent-involved so it will be a structure for them to make friends, too.  One more thing they don't have to make happen all by themselves!

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As always, all women are invited to join GirlFriendCircles.com-- a match-making site for female friendships-- where things like ConnectingCircles are planned for you OR you can be in charge of the planning and initiating by searching our database or posting events on the calendar!  :)

 

 

 

 

Making New Friends in a New City, by Christie Mims

Note from Shasta: I've been writing so many guest blogs to celebrate my new book "Friendships Don't Just Happen!" that I decided I may need to have a few women guest blog for me until I have more words to share!  :)  Soon, I'm goingto start blogging about any questions you have as you read the book, concepts you wish I would unpack more, or anything you wished I would have highlighted-- post those questions on our Facebook page and I'll answer them here! For now, this is Christie Mims-- a brand new mover-and-shaker here in the San Francisco area. (Her bio is at the end.) Christie Mims

 

Making New Friends in a New City, by Christie Mims

I like to think of myself as a fairly cool person who is easy to get to know. I shower regularly, I smile often, I like dogs (I distrust people who don’t like dogs), and I have a passionate love for 1981 (3?) killer movie: “Staying Alive.” There may have only been about five actual pages of dialogue, but boy do the large hair and hand gestures make up for it. John Travolta, you have my endless thanks.

I also love my friends.  Friendship, for a long time, has been one of my most important life values. My friends are like my family. They are my sanity, and the people who give me joy. I try to write, reach out, communicate, drink, and play with my friends as often as possible. And even when they are scattered all over the world,

I will travel to see them when I can. They matter to me.

So, when I decided on a bit of a whim to uproot my revolutionary Career Coaching business from DC to San Francisco, I thought I would be fine.  My business is global, so it would be easy, right?

Sure, a lot of my friends were in DC, “but - I’ve got friends all over the world!” I thought to myself jauntily as I packed up my car, fresh from a trip to Germany to see some of said friends.

“I’ll be fine!” I said as I drove across country with my mom “I’ve got two amazing friends already in SF, plus all the people I’m sure I’ll meet. It’ll be great!”

“I’m good at staying in touch over email!” I said as I unpacked my stuff, alone in my new apartment for the first time.

“I’ll hang out with my friends here all the time!” I thought, as I sat around wondering what to do with myself...knowing that one of my friends was a new mom, and the other was deep in the throes of an all-consuming start-up.

Making New Friends isn't as Easy as it Sounds

And then it hit me.

I was alone in a new city, far from home and in an inconvenient time zone.  When I was lonely at night in my new home, my east coast friends were fast asleep (to say nothing of the Europeans).  And my friends here, while AMAZING, are pretty busy and not that close to me in terms of location. The bay area is bigger than I realized (I’m really terrible with geography...I blame the US school system. Also, who needs algebra? Really?).

The truth is that it was awful.

Weekends were the worst - I had full days stretching in front of me with nothing but time, and no one to share that time with.  And, I was also working hard on my business, stretching out of my comfort zone, building up my visibility in San Francisco, and learning about the city and the culture.  It was exhausting, and at the end of the day, I just wanted to be with someone who knew me. Who would come over for a glass of wine and watch bad tv and talk about boys or shoes.

I was lonely.

I was sad.

And I felt so lost.

But I Made My Friendships Happen!

So I did what I know how to do.  I networked (I’m from DC, it’s what we do). At events with women.  Hoping that maybe I would meet someone cool, and at minimum I would make business connections.  I reached out.  I introduced myself awkwardly and invited people to lunch or coffee.

I stalked some people over email if I thought we would hit it off.

I signed myself up for Shasta’s Friendship Accelerator (Note from Shasta: see below for description of these workshops!), hoping that I would at least kill some time on a lonely Saturday, and thinking it would probably teach me something interesting. I told myself I needed to smile a lot and enjoy the city that I chose.

And I kept doing it.

It was not easy.  Most of the time, especially in the beginning, it wasn’t even particularly fun.

But I was open to it.  And cognizant of the fact that friendship has to start somewhere - and I needed to keep pushing myself out there so I would go from random coffees to full on friends.  Friendship, as Shasta sagely says, is based on consistency and intimacy.  You need to have both to have close friends.

So I threw myself into weekly dinners with my accelerator group.

I set up regular card nights with old and new friends (trying to integrate groups!).

I asked friends to introduce me to their friends in the area.

I joined new meetups and  organizations such as A Band of Wives (abusing google search in my attempts to find all possibilities).

And I kept going back.

I’ve been in the Bay Area now for roughly four months.  My social life, which felt a little like a broken puzzle when I first arrived, is now starting to snap into focus.

I’ve got friends, and plans, and some consistency with the friends and plans in my life. It matters. I remember when I had a week in the fall where I spent time with old and new friends almost every night, and at the end of it I felt like a new person.  It honestly impacted my health, and made making friends here an even bigger priority in my life.

I feel like I finally made it...and I’m so grateful to be building a life.

I know how difficult it is to just land, so, if you are new to the city - shoot me an email, I’m happy to have a glass of wine and say hello!  And if you are in another city, spend some time to get out there and connect with interesting new people.  Most importantly don’t give up - you’ll get there.  I did (and if I did, anyone can do it. I mean, I love Stayin’ Alive, so that is one strike against me :))!

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About Christie:  Christie holds a BA from the University of Virginia, a MA from the University of Kent, Brussels School of International Studies, and is a certified mediator and certified professional coach. Feeling stuck in your job and want free concrete ways to get UNstuck? Get Christie’s free kit here at The Revolutionary Club! And see what else she’s doing that is unprecedented over here!

About Friendship Accelerators: I (Shasta) facilitate Friendship Accelerators which are small groups of  women that I've matched for potential friendship who commit to attend seven hours of a friendship-workshop and group-bonding day, followed by 4 weekly get-togethers as a group. In one month, these groups experience more bonding than what most of us can do over a year with women we've met. They've been fabulously successful with the majority of women saying the value of the workshop alone was worth it, but how thrilled they are that nearly 80% of the groups are still meeting months after their commitment ended!  This is by far the most effective way I've yet seen to introduce women to each other and give them the best chance ever to foster local friendships that matter. I'm considering possible Accelerators in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle the coming months-- but will decide bases on where I have the most interest so sign up here to indicate your interest in being notified if I host a Friendship Accelerator near you!