The Patient Work of Making Friends as an Adult, Part 2

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See “The Patient Work of Making Friends as an Adult, Part 1” for advice on keeping your head up during the friend-hunting process.  This post focuses on the nitty-gritty of how to find and meet folks.

Generally speaking, I look for situations that allow me to see the same people repeatedly and favor activity-based events.  A class, regularly-scheduled volunteer work, or a book club, for example, give you opportunities to meet people more than once, provide some common ground for your initial conversations, and can help you meet people outside your usual circle of friends and co-workers.  In my experience, pure networking events are the most challenging and least fun.  And if you don’t meet anyone interesting at a networking event, there is no redeeming factor, like at least you saw a great performance, learned something useful, or helped someone in need.

Some repeat activities to consider:

  • In-person classes:  yoga, fitness/exercise, cooking, language, dancing, painting, sculpture, photography, sailing, kayaking, hiking, rock-climbing, university extension courses  —Whatever interests you, especially if it’s been on your “some day” list for a while.
  • Clubs: running, book, podcast, TED Talk, concerts, movies, theatre
  • Long-term volunteer work (versus one-off events); for a while I read with kids each Monday morning in the Bronx.  I didn’t make any great friends through that work, but thanks to quality time with the kids, I was usually the happiest person I knew on Monday mornings.
  • Kid-related activities; if you can, rather than just dropping off the kids at swimming lessons or soccer or ballet, stay for a bit and talk with the other parents.  And spend some quality time hanging out at the neighborhood playground.

Work/Volunteer some where with repeat visitors.  Find a yoga, fitness, or art studio (or elsewhere) that you like and work there part-time, even just one or two hours a week in exchange for free classes.  I helped to check in students for classes at a Boston yoga studio and found it quite helpful.  Because I was the check-in person, I got to meet a lot of people and had a reason to start up conversations with them.  (For introverts, having a defined role in a situation is very helpful.) It also gave me the opportunity to introduce people to each other, which led to friendships and business deals—and made my day, since I like being of service.

Organize events for new arrivals.  If you’re part of a job-related move—whether the employee or “trailing partner”—see if you can get a list of everyone else working for the organization who moved to your area in the past 12-15 months, then send out open invitations to everyone on the list.  Possible activities include:

  • Cocktail party, brunch, lunch, or dinner. (I know, this suggestion violates the “avoid networking” suggestion, but at least you’re all part of the same corporate circus and new to the area, so you share some common ground and can trade questions and suggestions regarding your new home town.)
  • Poker and game board events
  • Book, movie, TED Talk, or podcast club (I’ve had success with TED Talks plus a pot-luck brunch)
  • Bowling
  • Dinner and a show or concert
  • Story slams. The Moth holds events in select cities across the country and now there are smaller, local events popping up all-over.  These events are always fun and the stories provide easy fodder for conversation (which also makes them a great date option).
  • Concerts and dancing
  • A multi-week class—cooking, dancing, art, etc. If you have a good-sized group, maybe you can organize a private class at a time that works for the group or get a group discount.

MeetUps.  MeetUp is a platform for organizing groups around a shared interest—there are book clubs, dining groups, music groups, gaming groups, etc.  It’s hit and miss, but the investment is small—a few hours and maybe a few dollars—so worth trying out if there are events of interest to you.

Say “Yes!” to offered introductions.  Whenever someone you know offers to introduce you to a friend, business contact, sibling, in-law, etc., say yes and meet for a coffee, drink, meal, or event.  It often takes time to move from introduction to meeting because people are busy and you aren’t their priority.  No big deal, just be patiently persistent.  I did a lot of these meetings related to job-hunting, so maybe it helps to have a specific topic in mind.  But I’ve also met up based simply on: you’re a good person, s/he is a good person, you might have fun together.  And it works!  (Sometimes.)

Dog Parks.  If you have a dog, chatting with people at the dog runs is another way to get to know people over time.  Or if you’re thinking of getting a dog, you can hang out and ask people for their guidance.

Talk with random people.  Start up conversations with people wherever you are—in line at the grocery store, at the kids’ school, etc.  I regularly chat with people at my neighborhood bus stop (one more plus of public transportation!).  You never know where click might happen.

What are your ideas and suggestions for making friends as an adult?  Let us know in the comments section!


Photo courtesy of  589 at Pixabay


Alexandra Marchosky
Alexandra Marchosky
I coach individuals and organizations to do and be better by more fully living their values.
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