Over the past three weeks, we've received several messages from young women headed to college who want to know how to make friends. We are outlining 5 strategies to help you begin connecting with other women on campus that could potentially lead to more meaningful friendships. To make the most of your first semester, follow these tips and adapt to fit your personality, comfort level, and personal collegiate circumstances!
1. GO ON YOUR COLLEGE WEBSITE AND FIND THE EVENT CALENDAR.
It’s best to find a calendar for a specific college or department (i.e. College of Education). Pin-point the speakers or activities that excite you - and put these on your phone calendar. YOU’RE GOING.
When we go to these specially curated events, the event itself has already done the facilitating for us. They’ve put us in a room of something we’re excited about, so we don’t have to come up with talking points or conversation starters. There is already something that’s brought us together, and we’re all equally excited about this experience.
Go to the event early - and stay a little late. Because of our nerves, we tend to roll in a little late and leave early, but this is when people mingle! And when the event is over, linger for a few minutes: pack up slowly, and keep your eyes alert in the room and not distracted by your phone. See what fruit comes of it!
2. CHOOSE THE RIGHT EXTRACURRICULAR GROUPS.
You probably do this all the time - but not in the right way. Groups meet on a regular basis, and repeated exposure is a key ingredient to starting a friendship. These groups do the work for you.
Once you find this group, ask yourself if it’s socially conducive to what your objective is: meeting people and gradually getting to know them. For example, if most of the time is spent with a director or around a singular person (like a choir), that’s less conducive to socializing and getting to know people. Think about what the group’s weekly meetings look like.
3. CONSIDER ALL THE “WAITING”.
We overlook how much time we spend “waiting” on things: waiting in line for your meal, waiting for your professor to start class, waiting for the elevator, etc.
Explore what you look like during those times of waiting...are you on your phone? Think about what that looks like on the outside. Being on your phone gives you a lack of approachability because no one wants to “interrupt”. Some of the best friendship advice we have is to keep your head and eyes up, and use these times of waiting as an opportunity to meet others.
4. POSITION YOURSELF FOR INTRIGUE.
We are so concerned when we go out about our social performance and how we appear, and we forget that everyone else is doing the same thing. If this is the case, you have to ask yourself, how are you positioning yourself to be a person who others would approach?
To signal that you’re open to welcoming these opportunities, wear a t-shirt with a band that you love, earrings that aren’t easy to find at Forever 21, or a funky “pin” on your backpack. All of these things make it easy for another person to compliment you and chat you up.
Stop worrying so much about your performance and instead be strategic about how you position yourself to receive others’ interest.
5. LEVERAGE THE POWER OF YOUR SUPER CONNECTOR NETWORK.
A “Super Connector” is typically an extrovert who thrives on introducing two different groups, so take advantage of this person’s willingness and happiness to bring people together. Identify who they are in your circle; it might be your roommate or your RA.
Simply ask them this, “Hey, I’m trying to get plugged in around here, and I noticed that you’re always in the mix and doing something. I was just wondering, is there anything on campus that’s worth checking out and actually worth my time?”
This person is excited to tell you all the places you should go! They’re either going to answer your question explicitly with recommendations of places to go and things to do OR they might invite you to something they’re already attending with others.
You can’t get a need met if you’re too scared to voice it. Take comfort in the fact that most people around you feel the exact same way.
Advice for Making New Friends in College
These 5 strategies will at least get you started. Tweak them a bit to make them feel like your own, but try them! It’s all about just getting started. We know it’s easier said than done, but you’ll be setting yourself up to have exponentially more opportunities than someone who is completely immobilized by her fear of getting started.
[Get more insights on the Friend Forward Podcast., season 3 episode 1.]
Danielle Jackson, Friendship Speaker and Coach
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