You spend a lot of time at work, so it makes sense that eventually you will become friends with your coworkers. Having a solid friendship at work can make you feel more satisfied with your job, so making friends has more benefits than just the social variety. The trouble with office friendships, though, is that it's not always easy to make the leap from office acquaintance to friend. Here are some ways you can break the ice and get to know more of your coworkers and other professionals in your field.
Join a Business Association
I used to belong to a marketing association, and I met lots of really good people this way. I met folks who instantly understood my job and what my average day was like, and who I could network with or even find new job opportunities. Eventually I met a few people I really connected with, and we were able to become friends.
Email an Acquaintance to Meet for Coffee
Sometimes you need to make the first step in developing a friendship at work. Other people may find you interesting but are afraid to make that step towards a personal relationship. People aren't always sure how to proceed with office friendships, so if you can show some interest it will encourage people to get to know you.
Making friends with work colleagues doesn't mean that you're limited to people in the office. There are probably many acquaintances you've met in passing, so see if one of them wants to meet you for coffee to bounce ideas off of about your job or field of study, and start from there. Start off the conversation with some small talk to make it more personal before jumping into work topics. You may need to do this a couple times before you each feel comfortable getting together socially, but remember that friendships take time, so make the first step and let things progress naturally from there.
Seek Out a Mentor
You might not always become friends with a mentor, but working with one will help you grow as an individual, which will, in turn, help you when it comes to meeting new friends. The office is the perfect place to find a mentor, so start by looking for more experienced people in your work life and get to know them a bit. Sometimes a mentoring relationship will develop naturally, and other times you may need to approach someone to ask if they could mentor you. If they balk at the idea, don't think twice. Just move on to someone new. Most of the time, however, people will be flattered to be asked to share their expertise.
Ask for a Recommendation
People love to share ideas, so get to know a coworker or business acquaintance better by asking for their advice on a certain area. The question could be related to anything you might want to learn. Looking for a new restaurant? Best way to find a babysitter? Grocery store that carries a special ingredient in the new recipe you're going to try? Ask for a recommendation, and you might be surprised where it may lead.
Go to Seminars
Short seminars or classes are a perfect way to connect with other like-minded professionals. Have business cards ready to hand out to people, and be prepared to ask them for theirs. If you get into a conversation with someone, jot down a few details about them on the back of their business card. That will help you remember details about the person after you leave the event.
Check Out Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Your Chamber of Commerce office probably has a number of events, seminars, and ways to connect with other professionals. You can volunteer to work at events that are going on or just network with other business people. Choose an activity that will connect you with a lot of different people, so you can meet a variety of individuals.
Join a Business Book Club
I'm part of a business book group now, and I can tell you it's very different than a casual club. The big distinction, of course, is that the book you'll read will be related in some way to the business world. You might read about increasing sales, doing social networking, providing customer service, or the like. Some might find this boring, but I have to say I really like the people that attended our group. I found myself looking forward to our discussions more and more as time went on. I consider these people more than just acquaintances now, which means I'm on my way to becoming friends with them. Check out LinkedIn or MeetUp for a group in your area.