You know the old saying, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That's especially true when it comes to meeting potential new friends. Turn someone off the first time you meet them and they may never feel comfortable getting to know you as a friend again.
Even after you get past the first impression, you need to show the very best version of yourself as you continue to get to know them. New friendships can be derailed easily because the other person doesn’t know how to put all your quirks and unique habits in perspective yet. To make a new friendship flow more easily, here are a few tips.
Project Body Language That Invites Conversation
Let people know you're interested in making friends with your body language. Make eye contact, smile, and stand erect with your arms at your side. Don't cross your arms or look down at the floor, because this does not encourage conversation. With open body language, you'll automatically invite people into your personal space.
Be a Great Listener
Listen to people. Too often, when we meet someone new we listen to them just long enough until we think of something we want to say. Rather than fully hearing someone, we're getting tidbits here and there. Not fully listening means that you're not letting the bond develop between you and your new friend.
Sometimes this happens because we're afraid we won't be heard, but with a new friend you can't worry about that. You will be heard when the time is right, which may be further down the road than you would have liked. But so what? In the meantime, you're bonding with a potentially great friend so that when you do share some personal items, they will be received with that much more care than if you had rushed them out in the early stages of your relationship. Here are some basics on how to show a potential friend you're interested in what they have to say.
Look for things you like in people, and tell them. Let people know you appreciate them and then let others know as well. If you use this approach each time you meet people, you'll automatically attract more friends to you then if you were gossiping about them instead. (Here's more about how to give a great compliment.)
When you meet somebody new, try to find out what you can do for them. Can you connect them with a great babysitter? Give them the number of a head hunter that can help them find a new job? Doing a favor like this for someone right away will help endear you to them, and will increase the chances for friendship down the road. However, don't go into it with the attitude that when you help someone they should automatically be friends with you. Instead, be helpful because you want to be, and if a friendship develops later on, consider it a bonus.
Invite Conversation While Waiting in Line
If you're stuck somewhere in line, at the doctor's office, or the like, use the time to chat with other people. Too often we just get frustrated when there is a delay and we don't enjoy the opportunity that has been presented us. Be positive and make the best of it. You may win a friend in the process. Here are some ice breakers when you're making small talk with strangers.
Approach the Quiet and Shy People in a Group
Pay attention to the shy folks who don't say much. There are always a few people in every social gathering that just seem to hang back and silently watch others. They may be introverted or just shy, and as a result they're probably not getting the same attention as the more vocal people in the room. If you see someone like this, seek them out and say hello. They'll be glad you did.