10 Simple Steps to Create New Connections

Create new connections

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Create new connections in your life with these ten simple steps.

Do you remember how easy it was to make friends as a kid? Why did it get so much more difficult as we get older?

As we got older, we adopted a bunch of super-fun habits. These habits made us develop flawed behavioral expectations, fears of judgment, and misconceptions about vulnerability (super fun, right?). We also inherited more responsibilities, as well as false messages about what’s important, like money and individualized success.

Put all these ingredients in a pot, and you’ve got one lonely adult soup. Or, more truthfully, you’ve got a stew full of millions of lonely adults. (Too many liquid food references? I thought so, too).

Our culture has created a population of people who lack meaningful connections in their life.

But you can change that.

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Why You Need to Create New Connections

Meaningful connections are more than just having people to hang out with and send funny cat gifs too. Connection is actually a crucial component of our overall health and well-being.

Humans are wired for belonging. In fact, many researchers put belonging as one of our most fundamental needs. The effects go beyond our emotional spirits. Creating and maintaining enduring connections will reduce our stress levels, improve our immune system, and increase our life expectancy.

While there are five different types of relationships you need in life, the one that many of us are missing is friendships.

Create new connections

It’s difficult to make friends as an adult

Ironically, while you might feel alone in your lack of friendships, you’re very much not alone in experiencing this feeling. Nearly half of adults in the United States reported feeling lonely. Why is loneliness becoming such an epidemic, particularly for younger generations?

There are a lot of factors being debated. One leading theory is that social media is leading us to have superficial connections rather than real ones. An overall disconnect from other people, in part derived by our individualistic society, is another factor.

While the reasons are important, the consequences are even more noteworthy: it is difficult to make and establish new friendships. Our society is not set up with abundant opportunities to create new connections.

There are things you can do, however, to make new friendships in your life.

10 Simple Steps to Create New Connections In Your Life

1. Engage in conversations with the people you see every day

This one might seem like a no-brainer, yet we often overlook it’s potential. The majority of us interact with the same group of people daily. And I don’t just mean the people we’re close with. I mean the people we know enough to say hello to, like your neighbors, the guys at the gym, or the people who work a floor below you.

If you engage in conversations with the people you see every day, you can develop a rapport.

As you build this rapport, you can see how well you relate or enjoy the other person’s company.

Perhaps you’ll find a common interest, opening an easy door to making plans outside of your daily routine. Maybe you’ll simply begin to establish a relationship by increasing the amount of personal information you share, thus building trust.

If you ask questions, listen and remember to what they say, and follow up, you will see that your everyday run-ins can transform into meaningful connections.

Keep in mind, you don’t need to have a meaningful bond right away to create new connections. You’re just trying to gauge if you two could enjoy more time together in a different setting.

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2. Create a routine

Establishing trust and rapport takes time. No matter how outgoing you are, you probably won’t get from “nice to meet you” to “I feel like we know and like each other, let’s hang out” in one conversation.

To create opportunities for recurring conversations, create a routine that will put you in the same places at the same time. This will inevitably increase your chances of consistent interactions with others.

For example, if you go to the gym at random times throughout the day, you’ll be faced with a sea of new faces every time. But, if you generally attend the morning classes around 7 am, you’ll probably end up seeing the same group of people each day.

While you shouldn’t begin scheduling your day to the minute (which is something I would do), general patterns and routines can go a long way. Think about the places you make regular stops at – a coffee shop, bar, dog park, etc. – and create a routine time to go.

Make friends

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3. Go to activities that seem interesting to you

Creating a routine does little if it’s focused on activities that you don’t enjoy. You’ll need to get out into the world, but you must do it in ways that you like. It’ll be difficult for me to create new connections at a vegan rally if meat and animal byproducts are my passion. (Sidenote: are vegan rallies a thing?)

If you want to find like-minded people, go to activities that seem interesting to you.

Not sure where to find activities? Most towns and cities have event calendars online. If those activities aren’t your cup of tea, try checking out schedules for the places that you do enjoy, such as a store, bar, or gym.

Many natural emotions might hold you back from attending different activities and reaching out when you’re there. After all, we’re wired to feel insecure or fearful. But remember, other people are there too – which means that they are seeking out and interested in the same things you are.

Shared interests are such an essential staple of friendships.

Therefore, going to activities that you enjoy will set you up for success as you try to create new connections.

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4. Volunteer

One great way to meet new people is to volunteer. You can find opportunities to volunteer online or through your local church or community center.

When you volunteer, you will be put into a community of welcoming, social people who are also looking for connection.

I mean, can you imagine attending a volunteering event that has a bunch of selfless do-gooders who are also mean and uninviting? Chances are slim. Instead, you’ll more than likely find a group of people who are approachable and engaging.

Volunteering is proven to increase your feeling of social connectedness. Additionally, it has impressive benefits for your mind and body.

Find a volunteering event that sounds intriguing to you. When there, don’t be afraid to ask what other volunteering opportunities are in the area.

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5. Remember names and details

Step one to creating new connections is finding and interacting with other people. Creating a routine, going to enjoyable activities, and volunteering will all set you up for conversations with other people. But having consistent conversations is not quite enough.

To create new connections, you must listen attentively and remember the names and details of your conversations.

Friendships form much easier if you already have an established relationship (like if you’re roommates or office buddies). However, if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to demonstrate your interest in the other person.

Now, I don’t mean to say that you stalk the other person online and memorize facts about them. (“Oh, hey Kara – I saw you went hiking yesterday, and your cousin got engaged last weekend?” … “Um, I’m sorry, what’s your name again?”). That’s just creepy.

Instead, make a point to remember what the person chose to share with you. The next time you talk, ask them follow-up questions. Not only will this allow your relationship to grow, but it will encourage them to do the same.

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6. Ask to tag along with group plans

Do you ever feel like you’re an outsider, listening in to plans being formed around you? Maybe your sibling is planning a weekend for his buddies, or your roommate is going out for drinks with her work friends. When this happens, our despondent default is often, “They haven’t specifically invited me.”

Sometimes you need to take the initiative and ask to tag along with their group plans.

Unless you are a miserable, annoying fruitcake (and hey, maybe you are… but I doubt it), your presence will probably not ruin anyone’s group plans. Most of the time, we aren’t invited to things because the planners don’t know that we’re interested, or aren’t thinking about us.

Rather than be insulted or hurt, demonstrate that you’re interested in tagging along.

If they say no, they’re probably not people you want to spend time with anyway. But if they’re cool people, they will more than likely say yes. This will open the opportunity for you to meet new people and create new connections.

Create new connections

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7. See people, not groups

Our deeply innate in-group bias sets us up to look at groups of people as a defined faction rather than individual people. Our fear of being left out doesn’t help, either.

If we only see groups, there are two negative consequences. First, it makes creating new connections seem more intimidating. Second, it prevents us from getting to know individuals.

Open your mind to view a group of people as individuals, rather than as a collective group. If you do this, you can focus on making friendships with people you like, instead of trying to gain entry into an “already-established team.”

Imagine standing in a circle of six people trying to introduce yourself, get to know each person, and remember details about everyone. (Oh man, I’m sweating just thinking about it). Now imagine having genuine conversations with individuals in and around a gathering of people. (Much less sweating).

At the end of the day, every one of us wants to be seen as a person. Don’t limit yourself by neglecting this fact.

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8. Keep in touch

Once you’ve met someone and hit it off, the next round of anxious voices come in: “They didn’t like me as much as I liked them. I’ll look desperate if I follow up. They’ll laugh at me.” You’ve got to shut these voices down because they’re getting in the way of forming real friendships.

If you genuinely enjoyed someone’s company, keep in touch with them after you depart.

Keeping in touch doesn’t need to entail any grand gestures. It can be as simple as:

  • Following up about an upcoming event or news item you discussed
  • Messaging, “I had fun tonight, we should do it again!”
  • Check-in with the person about something important they told you about
  • Asking to hang out again, either doing the same activity or something new

Here’s a not-really-a secret: people like to feel valued. If you keep in touch, chances are they will value your outreach and, hopefully, reciprocate it.

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9. Get online

Talking in real life is a vital component in creating meaningful relationships, but that doesn’t mean they can’t start online.

Online can be an excellent way for you to connect with someone who has common interests.

Whether you are a big gamer, online reader, or fan of something, today’s internet allows you to engage with online communities easily and quickly. For example, one of the podcasts I listen to – My Favorite Murder – started out with one Facebook page. It then rapidly expanded to pages, online groups, and then in-person meetups in different cities and towns.

Online communities can be a great way to create new connections. Just make sure that you are presenting your authentic self, and the other person is too. (Catfish is still a thing, people!).

Online connections

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10. Be vulnerable

Often, we might find ourselves thinking, “Everyone else has friends, so what’s wrong with me?” Or maybe, “Why can’t someone else reach out to me? Why does it have to be me?” Both questions… that will get you nowhere.

Almost half of the adult population experiences loneliness in their lives. That means that, if you dare to be vulnerable to seek connection, your efforts will probably be invited by others.

Consider your own experiences. Has anyone ever reached out, engaged in conversation, or invited your places – and you judged them for it? Probably not, and certainly not if you are looking for friendship.

Being vulnerable means that you are willing to make the first move, even if it won’t work out. You can engage in conversation, giving your attention to someone because they are worth your time. Additionally, you’re able to share information about your life to establish trust.

It’s not easy. Still, you won’t be able to create new connections if you’re not willing to be a little vulnerable in the process.

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Conclusion

Making new friends as an adult can seem like a daunting task. However, tons of research shows that humans need to feel a sense of belonging to live healthy, fulfilled lives.

Our society has taken the focus away from connection, creating a population filled with loneliness and disconnection. That being said, there are simple ways to create new connections in your life and experience a greater sense of belonging:

  1. Engage in conversations with the people you see every day
  2. Create a routine
  3. Go to activities that seem interesting to you
  4. Volunteer
  5. Remember names and details
  6. Ask to tag along with group plans
  7. See people, not groups
  8. Keep in touch
  9. Get online
  10. Be vulnerable

Want to learn more about vulnerability and how you can be more vulnerable in your life? Read the next post in our series.

Before you go out into the world, complete all ten steps, and have a life busting full of new connections, take a minute and answer one of the questions below.

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FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS

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Comment below with answers, ideas, and more questions, or contact me to collaborate on a future post!

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EXPLORING YOURSELF

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What fears hold you back from making new connections?

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How many of the same people do you interact with on a daily basis?

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What opportunities do you have to tag along with others’ plans?

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EXPANDING YOUR WORLD

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What are the benefits of volunteering?

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How can we increase our memory and attentiveness?

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What countries report the most loneliness?

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6 thoughts on “10 Simple Steps to Create New Connections”

  1. Some Fears I have about making new connections are that I won’t have enough time to develop them. I have important people in my life and already it’s hard for me to maintain communication with them.

    1. I feel you, anonymous. I have a friend that used to say, “I’m not in the market for new friends.” Sometimes I feel this way – I barely have enough time to put into my current relationships! I think it’s important to keep an open mind and be open to new encounters, though. Some new connections might benefit you, others might benefit the other person. Either way, every new connection can help round out our lives, even if it’s not someone we dedicate hours of our time to. Perhaps “Proximity People”? (Read 5 types of relationships post to learn what this is)

  2. Love this! I struggle to make new adult friends. I feel that I connect with people easily but it’s the follow up that I need help with. My goal is to start attending the activities that I enjoy and creating bonds this way on a regular basis. If you want to follow the struggles of someone trying to make new friends, let me know.

    1. Hey Kathy, thanks for commenting! Why do you think the follow up is the most difficult for you? Most of our behaviors come back to two things: motivation, and the things holding us back. Are you really motivated to follow up? Perhaps you can strum up more motivation by taking time to think why you want new adult friends. If you are really motivated, what might be holding you back from following up? I think we all have a bit of social anxiety/fear of rejection (no matter how confident we are). Or perhaps you aren’t in the habit, at which point it’s difficult to break into.

      I encourage you to think about which of the two underlying causes might be getting in the way of your follow up!

  3. #10 was one my grandmother always harped on. “Never be shy to ask for help, it’s company that will know you truly appreciate them being there.”

    Typically, “Hey (person X), would you mind coming over and giving me a hand” turns into chatting about things and a drink or two to celebrate the achievement. I totally vouch for vulnerability.

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