Sunday, July 4, 2010

Let's Face It, Meeting Friends Outside of College Sucks

In college, I made most of my friends within the first week of being on campus. Whether it was through orientation, classes, or clubs, most the friends I still talk to on a daily/weekly basis I met fairly quickly and we became fast friends. Since most of my senior class moved to NYC after graduation, I had a built in social network. Parties, dinner dates, drinks after work were all with friends from college.

And then I moved to Chicago and while I had my family and friends from high school to keep me company, I found that I had less of a network that I had become accustomed to in NYC. I mean, there are only so many times you can go to dinner with your dad and my high school friends had their own networks to hang out with so some weekends I would be holed up in my apartment watching reruns of Roswell (don't judge). This is when I set about making more friends. And I quickly realized that making friends in a post-collegiate "real world" is hard work. It takes a lot of time and effort and it doesn't happy over night. Below are some tips that helped me make new friends and this works for people who have been relocated by a job, have recently moved to be closer to a boyfriend, or just people looking for a new group of friends in their hometown.

Social Networks
I have found that some of the girls I have become myself becoming closer and closer to are girls I met through blogging or Twitter. I got invited to my first blogger party by Jess. It was there that I met a slew of amazing bloggers (and Twitters) including Jamie, Jenn, and Allie. After only a few short months Jamie and I became close buds who went to cupcake shops together, saw movies about vampires together, and obsessing over awesome TV shows together. I realized that I loved meeting girls who loved the same things as me (like champagne and trying new restaurants!) so I even ended up hosting a party (with Jamie) for some bloggers and then even attended Bloggers in Sin City this past spring, which made my relationship with some of my new friends even stronger! Starting your own blog or connecting with people via Twitter is a great way to meet like-minded people.

My mom was always very much into being involved in the community. She was always involved at my grade school and high school by being on committees and doing volunteer work for women's boards. This of course instilled in me a want to do this as I got older so when I moved to Chicago I looked around for Junior Boards to be involved in which are not only a great way to meet friends, but also to network. I'm currently on a hospital junior board where I've met a few girls that I have drinks with now and then. It's easy to find a board to get involved in especially if you already have a cause that you are passionate about, but if you don't and you just want to help out the community do some research for junior boards in your area. Trust me, there will be a ton and I know Chicago even has a service night (almost like a trade show) where you can walk booth to booth and learn more about charities/boards in your area. Note: this is also a really great way to meet nice guys!

Join, join, join!
The best way to meet new friends is to be a joiner, which I kind of touched upon above. I personally think this is so important. When I first moved to Chicago, I started a book club with my friends (something I had always wanted to do!) and had them invite their friends and their friends and eventually our book club had 15 people in it and I only knew a handful of them. This was a great way to meet new people and a lot of the girls have become my friends through the book club. Other fun clubs to join are dinner clubs, cooking clubs, knitting clubs, church youth groups - and a lot of these are available through public libraries, YMCAs, park districts, etc. Don't be scared to go to a club solo either - the worst thing that can happen is that you don't meet someone!

One thing I definitely recommend is reconnecting with old acquaitances or old friends that you know live in your area. It's easy to find these things out by consulting Facebook. While I was living in New York, I got a few emails from girls I went to high school with who had just moved to town and wanted to meet up. One of those girls was one of my bff's from grade school and we ended up reconnecting and becoming close again. So you never know - put the invitation out there and you could end up meeting your new best friend! If you don't know someone who lives in the area already, asking your friends to set you up on blind friend dates is a good idea.

Think outside the box
Sometimes it's the least likely place where you meet a friend, so think outside the box! Attending lectures, college alumni meet-ups, seeking out local political events, networking events or going to book readings are great ways to meet people who will like the same things as you. I once went to a public Daily Candy event in NYC with WG1 and while waiting in line to get inside we got to talking with two girls behind us and while we didn't end up hanging out with them ever again, if we had put the effort in I think we could have left with two new friends.

Become a regular
I found this idea on a message board once and it struck me as a great idea. Find a bar, restaurant, or gym and become a regular. You can easily become friends with the staff just by being there. A bonus is becoming friends with a bartender or waiter who can sneak you free drinks or snacks.

Say yes!
The #1 rule when trying to make friends post-college is putting yourself out there. If a coworker invites you to a happy hour, GO! It never hurts to go to something you were invited to because like I said before, the worst thing is that you don't meet anyone or you feel awkward (and then you leave). So saying yes is imperative when trying to find new girl friends.

Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and say yes to new experiences because you never know where they might lead you or who they will introduce you to!


Neurotic Workaholic said...

Thanks for the tips! It is definitely harder making friends after college, especially when a lot of friends from college relocate to different cities. I've lived in Chicago for several years now and have noticed how people don't speak to each other, yet when I strike up conversations with people when I'm standing in line or whatever, they're often eager to talk.

Have you checked out the blog MWF seeks BFF? The woman on that site also talks about her efforts to meet people and make friends.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Sorry, I forgot to include the link that blog.

Anonymous said...

Great tips!
And don't worry, I went through a Roswell-phase, too.

Madame Lefty said...

This was a great entry. I've also found great friends though young adult groups from specific churches.

Just do an online search. Here in Houston, I've seen that different denominations have very active groups from 2nd Baptist to Joel Osteen's ministries. You'd be surprised by the different events they hold from spiritual to social.

Food for thought.

Rebekah said...

This is so encouraging. It is way harder after college, and even harder after you're married because you have to balance the husband and the newlywed-I-want-to-be-around-you-all-the-time stuff with friends. But I have been saying yes to after-work social events, so we'll see...

Jamie said...

Yay us! I'm so happy we became friends. I can't wait until I finally live closer to you so we can hang out more.

Cupcake Crawl. YES.

MonsteRawr said...

Thank you so much for the tips! I've been struggling with this very problem since I graduated from college, and more than the tips, it's nice to know I'm not the only one who semi-fails at making friends.

Lauren said...

This is so great!! I'm excited to incorporate some of these into my life in New York.

Paige said...

My friends and I just graduated college and we all admitted that this was our biggest fear...making new friends.

Seeker! said...

Omg this is a real life,live life!
a ballance between everything
and every mood
good luck in your own great life;)

Amy said...

I liked this. It's definitely hard to make friends when you're working. Especially if you have four co-workers and they're all boys. I find making girlfriends is REALLY difficult!

angeline said...

Great tips! I had a hard time transitioning after I got married because I moved to a town about 500 miles away from my closest friend, and since my husband had been there for 2 years already, he had a ton of friends. It was a difficult transition but what helped was:

1. Getting plugged in at a local church (any group that you may have commonality with works).

2. Getting a job in the nearest big city...met lots of people/coworkers and now that city is more "mine."

3. More and more of my friends started ending up nearby, either in the city where I worked or nearby cities (about an hour and a half away). While still far, it is nice to have some old friends near your 'hood.

nmaha said...

I need this post. Am desperately trying to make friends with girls my age, who have kids, so that we can go on play dates (fun for the mommies and babeis). Will use your tips, thanks a lot.

Leah said...

Hi there Working Girl! I found you through 20 Something Bloggers and I loved this post! I totally agree with you that post college friends are very hard to make. Making friends was the easiest thing in the world to do in college however. You certainly have some great suggestions and I'm lucky that I'm social enough that I've totally put myself out there since moving to Los Angeles in January. I look forward to reading more of your blog posts. PLease check out my blog too! The website is

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Mere said...

Wow this really hit home. I moved away for college and worked there fore another year or so after college. I then moved back to my hometown where all of my previous close friends have grown into their own cliques. I have recently began to get more involved in hopes of gaining new relationships.

I new to your blog and I love it! Great post!

Robyn @ WannabeWriterRunner said...

Great post! I made a ton of my post college friends at my first job in NYC, but it was also filled with young peeps. I've also met people through things like Zog Sports and other random activities.

Nycole said...

Great post. I have struggled with this for the past few years. I moved to a brand new huge city and didn't know a soul. Trying to break into already existing circles is really difficult. Also trying to find time for a social life when busy working makes it tough. I find the toughest thing to be is getting out there when you have to do it alone!!

Jill said...

wow, it is insanely hard to make friends after college! In college, everyone wants to make fast friends right away and you meet so many people all the time in classes, clubs, dorms, etc.
But in the real world, people seem to be set in their ways and have so much more going on. I've had trouble making friends and all of my coworkers are older so I wouldn't have fun hangin' with them lol. Luckily my roommate is my best friend. Thanks for your tips! My boyfriend lives 4 hours away and one of the big reasons I don't want to move to be closer to him is that I'm afraid of not knowing anyone in the city besides him. Everyone needs friends! Who would I go shopping with? haha

Kelsey said...

volunteering is a great way to meet people, I agree!

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Danielle said...

I found this bc I literally googled making friends..oh god how lame.

Country Billy Bob said...

Ha! That is soo funny! When I relocated for my first job after college. I was lonely after a short while and watched re-runs of Roswell too! It reminded me of when I was younger (much better days). If feels like my co-workers, and the job itself are the only thing I am around all the time. On the weekends sometimes I call a few of my acquaintances from work or a few people that of I know in the area. Unfortunately, no one seems to have a free schedule on the weekends either. So right back to square one. Such is life

{Rachelaine} said...

Working Girl,

I'm a reporter at the Deseret News, in Salt Lake City. I'm working on a story about how young adults, post-college, facilitate a strong social network of friends.

I came across this post and was very interested in what you had to say. I wondered if I could speak with you, briefly, basically discussing exactly what you outline here.

Looking forward to speaking with you!

Rachel Lowry
Deseret News

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I think after college the odds to meet single men get reduced but things can take a turn for good if you go to meet single men online through the free sites created for the purpose such as MeetOutside, the concept is simple and this way more and more connections are being made every year.

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