The title of this column sounds a little strange at first glance. But if you’ve ever tried to make friends as an adult, you know this is a big deal. And it’s not just because it’s important to have friends. The friends you have as an adult can have a major impact on your career.
Just last week, I met with a job seeker whose best friend helped him to land a job at a large, well-known corporation. The friend was by his side through the entire interview process, giving tips along the way. There’s just absolutely no substitute for this.
The problem is, as children, friends are almost served up to us on a silver platter. First, we have friends from our homeroom class. When we begin to play sports or join scouts, we have friends there. In high school, there are extracurricular activities.
Even if you moved for college like I did, friends were provided. In fact, one of my best friends is someone I just happened to live down the hall from in our freshman dorm in upstate New York.
So, what are you to do when you’ve moved to a new place as an adult? Honestly, it can be tricky and it takes time. It feels more risky than as a child because you aren’t guaranteed to spend much time together forming bonds.
Let’s start with where to look. Great sources of new contacts are social groups and special interest clubs. To find these groups, look on sites like Meetup.com. They often share calendars of public events. You can also look up cooking classes and dance classes. I’ve even signed up for a car repair class before. It’s typically completely acceptable to show up alone. If you sign up for a group that has recurring meetings or classes, you’ll be more likely to form longer-lasting bonds.
Once you’ve found a few people you’d like to know better, make an effort to connect outside of the activity where you met them. Invite them for coffee or beer. Ask if they’d like to help organize a bowling or trivia team. The more you can schedule regular visits, the closer you’re likely to become.
As an adult, one challenge you’ll face is that many people are already booked up. This becomes more normal the older you get. People only have so much free time, and the more pre-existing commitments they have (such as children and a spouse), the less available they will be. Keep your eye out for other people who have also relocated to your city. They are much more likely to be facing the same issues you are and are struggling to find adult friends.
Taking the time to connect with others as an adult is not only fun and good for your social life, it will help you professionally, so don’t give up – and know that you’re not alone!
Angela Copeland, CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.