March 14, 2014

Can we be friends?

There is something about memories from my childhood that seem distorted in retrospect. As a kid, we would go to Burger King for what seemed like HOURS. This is not plausible. Who would spend hours at a Burger King? Well, maybe we did. The Burger King near my house had a play land—the best fast food play land in town.

Going to the BK play land meant getting awesome paper crowns, a cool plastic toy, and making some new friends. I have a distinct memory of crawling in the tubes of play land and asking a newly met explorer ‘Do you want to be friends?’ Without skipping a beat, he said yes.

I am not sure what prompted me to ask, whether it was my age or the notion that you should ask someone to be your friend, I am not sure. But, having moved to a new city in a new state, to a place I have never lived before—I wish it was as easy as going to the nearest BK and asking someone to ‘be my friend’.

Here some tips and techniques to making friends in a new city:

Pave the Way

I learned this tip from a very funny inspirational speaker name Josh Sundquist. Rather than asking if someone would like to spend time with him, he would just suggest it by saying, "we should hang out sometime. The statement easily expresses the desire, while keeping the commitment low and not allowing for a response. This is a good strategy when trying to pave the way to hang out with coworkers or people you see regularly, but are not sure how to ask to hang out.

Finding Common Ground

As a young professional entering the working world, it can be hard making friends with people at work. I have found that finding people that share common ground is a good place to start building a relationship. For me, that has included other interns, apprentices, and new hires. All of these people share similar feelings of being new and an outsider.

Use what you have to start conversations. ‘I just moved here’ line is a great way to peak peoples interest as to what you’re doing in this new place. I recently went to a restaurant and they were so nice after finding out that I was new in town. They even gave me a free dessert :D

Out and About

Volunteering is a great way to get involved in the community and meet people with a similar interests. Starting this week, I am going to be volunteering with a local community bike workshop.

There are also some great resources designed to help you meet people with similar interests. Check out Meetup.comand Couch surfing. Both websites offer an array of casual gatherings that take place often.

These are just a couple of suggestions—what do you do when trying to make new friends?

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