I have been in grad school for almost 1 whole week now, and my #1 worry before orientation was how I had NO FRIENDS in my new city/school/classes. Thankfully, my sorority background has given me the tools I need to properly girl flirt and network to the point of functionality. If you were involved in the greek system, you probably already know these hacks, but if you didn’t pay for your friends like I did, here’s the run down.
1. BEAT THE GREET
This one was actually taught to me by an amazing friend of mine, and is actually an orientation leader trick. It’s super complicated, pay attention.
Step 1. Introduce yourself before they do.
BOOM! That’s it! Easy right? I never used to buy into this, but when you’re standing in an elevator or line casually chatting it up with your neighbor for a minute, deciding to introduce yourself could mean whether or not you and this person EVER SEE EACH OTHER AGAIN. It takes two seconds and is something we all learned to do in Fourth grade. “Hi! I’m _______” 3 words and you can probably spell all of them. This also takes the pressure off of the other person, but as a reflex they will respond with their name and (hopefully) shake your hand and continue the conversation.
Think about it, what could possibly go wrong here???
Worst case scenario, they respond and then you say “nice to meet you” and you never see them again.
Best case scenario, you just made a new friend!!! Win-win.
I did this on the elevator after I overheard 3 guys saying they were going to my next class, now I have 3 people to sit with every Tuesday and Thursday.
2. ACT LIKE THEY’RE ALREADY YOUR BEST FRIEND.
Personally, this is my go to. It’s a lot easier to talk to your BFF you’ve known since you were 10 than to a random stranger. Chances are, you are more alike than you are different. Even if you know nothing about this person, ask the questions as if you haven’t seen them in 8 years. By doing this, I found out the 3 elevator boys home towns and undergrads in a matter of 1 minute. It’s not hard. Start with simple questions and go from there. Think of things you find easy to talk about (whatever is common ground is usually an easy starting point, i.e. whatever you are both currently doing, then family, then activities)
3. GIVE A COMPLIMENT.
If number 2 seemed a little out of your comfort, another way to get the conversation is to give a compliment. Maybe you see someone who you think you could be your future friend, maybe you just reaaaallyyyy like hydroflask sticker, headband, shoes, whatever it is… JUST TELL THEM. Here’s why this almost ALWAYS works.
If you like something another person has, chances are, THEY LIKE IT TOO! And now you have something in common. If you don’t know where to go after this topic, you can always ask them where they got it, or say WHY you like it… the conversation should flow from there.
THE KEY IS TO BE HONEST.
Never give a FAKE compliment. You either will end up talking about something you’re not actually interested in, or it will come off as in-genuine. There’s no need to lie, it’ll get you no where. And if you can’t find a single thing you find interesting / like about a person, maybe re-evaluate why you want to be their friend. (Just because they “have a cute face” isn’t gunna cut it)
4. SMILE & EYE CONTACT
1-3 not really your jam? Talking freaks you out? You have no tongue? Just smile at someone, hopefully they’re more brave than you are! Eye contact is essential though, otherwise you’re just smiling into the void, and you look kinda creepy.
5. SLIDE INTO THOSE DM’S.
And not in a creep way. How many times have you had an acquaintance on facebook or twitter that you’re not even sure how they got there but now you need them? The amount of times I have slid into acquaintances DM’s and said “Hi, sorry this is super weird, but I was wondering if you wanted to be friends.” is too hard to count, and if I hadn’t done that I would not have gotten my 3 freshman roommates, or 90% of my study buddies. If you’re not a huge fan of face to face action, DM’s are usually the next best thing. Then when you meet in person you ALREADY DO HAVE A FRIEND.
It’s okay if social interaction isn’t your favorite thing. The good news is that you don’t have to be an eccentric extrovert to make friends. Anyone can do one of these incredibly simple tasks. Sometimes it’s a lot easier when you’re working in different settings. Coworkers are usually a little bit easier, but if you’re like me and in a jam for some new people to eat food with, you gotta risk it for the biscuit. On the plus side, if you try any of these tips and they don’t work for some reason, YOU CAN’T LOSE FRIENDS!
OH, and one more thing you can’t forget to do when trying to network,
6. GET THEIR PHONE NUMBER!!!!
I learned this the hard way. Meet someone you actually vibe with and would enjoy hanging out with again? Use one of these tips and find your new BFF? You literally need to ASK THEM FOR THEIR PHONE NUMBER. I promise you will not regret this. Maybe don’t do it in the first 5 seconds of the conversation, but unless they’re your coworker or you KNOW 100% you will see them again, you should just do it when you’re about to part ways. The easiest way is to pull out your “New Contacts” sheet so they can type in their name and number, then text them your name afterward.
Worst case scenario: They give you the wrong number. SO WHAT?
Best case scenario: You now have a friend you can text for homework help, drinks, to send memes to. You’re welcome.
7. DO WHAT YOU DID AT HOME
What did you enjoy at your old place? Exercising? Running? Walking your dog? Painting? Drinking? Working? Clubs or Organizations? Volunteering? Well, GUESS WHAT!? OTHER PEOPLE LIKE TO DO THAT STUFF TOO AND THEY’RE IN A CITY NEAR YOU! whatever your interests, you are just one google search away from having a new squad.
8. SIGN UP FOR THINGS & CHECK YOUR EMAIL
I know this seems like a weird one, but when you start a new program/ work place / join a new city, they usually either give you an email address or they get the one you already have. Before I even attended my orientation I had about 300 emails and a lot of them included fun activities like Happy Hour and Lunches, and other ways to get involved and meet people. I wouldn’t have even noticed if one of my friends in the program didn’t mention it. Most school or work places will do these events for students and staff cuz they get it. Even if you decide to join a Yoga studio near your new apartment, they will sometimes send out emails for other events near by that can help you meet new people. If you’re in a tight spot for friends: GO!
A lot of these things are just a way to get your foot in the door in a new chapter in your life. It can be really hard to be without your usual support group, but reaching out and looking around can get you a step closer to building a new one. Just remember, almost everyone has been there at one point or another, and most people are happy to help.