“A stranger’s just a friend you do not know” sang Jim Reeves. You pass dozens of strangers a day. If you connect with some of them, you would have dozens of new friends a year. And it’s not as difficult as you think. Here are easy steps to make new friends.
6 steps to make new friends
1. Smile at everyone
As soon as someone makes eye contact with you, smile. Whether the other person smiles back or not is irrelevant. Some will, some won’t. Most of the time you’ll find that people are friendly enough once you make the first move. A smile is disarming. It brightens your day, let alone the other person’s. And it’s a universally understood language.
2. Say “Hello”
When somebody smiles back, take the next step and greet them. A simple “Hello” or “Good morning” works fine. If they don’t respond, leave it at that. But if they do, you can start a conversation.
3. Make small talk
Comment on the surroundings (“Isn’t it crowded today?”), ask a question (“Do you work around here?”), or give a compliment (“That’s a nice bag”). This may take practice before you’re comfortable. It’s worth the effort though. When you’ve learnt how to talk to anyone, you’ll feel at home anywhere in the world.
4. Exchange contact details
If you feel that you’ve connected well, offer to exchange contact details if appropriate. For example, if you found that you both like art, offer to send them the link to a website that they may like. If the other person prefers not to, don’t take it personally. Maybe they’re not as comfortable with strangers as you are. Just leave it be.
5. Call, text or email promptly
Follow up within a few days, while they still remember you. This establishes a channel for further communication. Keep the call or email short, saying that you’re just calling to say hi and making sure you got the phone number or email address right. They won’t mind hearing from you since they gave you their contact willingly, but don’t impose on their time at this stage.
6. Keep in touch
Now that you’ve established phone or email contact, follow up again a few weeks later. This shows the person that you remember them. If they discussed needing a vacation during your initial meeting, you could tell them about an upcoming travel fair. If they mentioned how hard it is to find good places to eat, send information about a nice eatery that you came across.
7. Go with the flow
Not all contacts made this way will result in lifelong friendships. Most will remain acquantainces that you keep in touch with occasionally. Many will fizzle out over time. The thing is not to have any expectations. The outcome of your efforts is out of your hands. The point is that you made the effort.
One day you will find it easy to make new friends
You never know where your efforts will lead. Sometimes great friendships result. Often you’ll have a huge telephone directory and can call several people in the relevant field should you want information in a particular area or need help with a certain project. You’ll also be on the radar screen of many people who may call you regarding business deals, job opportunities, social gatherings and so on.
So smile at the next stranger you meet. Act as if you’re already friends, and you’ll find that maybe you are.