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Almost Painless Ways To Meet New People

Finding new friends isn’t always an easy and comfortable experience. Sometimes, as much as you want to have friendships, you’d just rather curl up with a book than attend some social gathering or meet-up with a group of strangers. Especially for introverts, it takes a lot of emotional energy to put yourself out there.

But, let's face it - you can’t belly up and remain a hermit forever. You have to find a way to connect with people.

Here are 30 painless ways to meet new people and develop friendships:

Take a hike.

If you enjoy hiking, meeting someone on a trail means you’ve found a friend who shares your passion for the great outdoors. That’s one point in their favor already. Just remember, before you go your separate ways to suggest getting together again. When you’re on the trail with someone, it’s easy to strike up an authentic conversation without the distractions of daily life. When  you’re surrounded by the beauty of nature, it inspires connection.

Get involved in a sport or activity club.

If you don’t meet someone on the trail by yourself, join a hiking club where you hike with others. If hiking isn’t your thing, you can join a running or biking group, a softball team, or a tennis league. Find a group who shares a physical activity you enjoy and become a regular. Strike up conversations with other members and suggest meeting for coffee, wine, or beer after an event or meeting.

Volunteer.

There are so many fun opportunities for volunteering with large groups of people where you might find your tribe. Volunteer in areas that are meaningful and interesting to you. You can volunteer as a coach, for a cultural event, or for a local art show.

Talk to your neighbors.

Sometimes the people we’re looking for are in our own back yards. Have you reached out to your neighbors lately? If you see your neighbor working in the yard, walk over and offer to help. Or make a little extra soup or an extra dozen cookies and walk them to the family down the street. By extending yourself just a little, you might meet some wonderful new friends within a short walk of your home.

Strike up conversations.

Wherever you happen to be — in line at the post office, at the grocery store, or at a concert, start a conversation with someone around you. Have a few conversation starters handy so you always have something to say to kick off a conversation. Yes, this might be uncomfortable at first, but if the other person is friendly and responsive, it might be the beginning of an interesting connection.

Walk your dog.

Taking your dog for a walk gives people a reason to stop and talk to you. Other dogs will be naturally curious and drag their owners over to say hello (in doggie language). If there’s a dog park in your community, take a ball or frisbee and have an outing with your pet. The odds are good you’ll meet a fellow dog lover.

Sit at community tables.

Find restaurants that have community dinner tables or bar tables. Rather than isolating yourself at a two-top, sit at the community table and get to know the people seated nearby.

Reach out on Facebook or other social media.

Through Facebook, you may discover some old friends or acquaintances that you didn’t know lived nearby.

Host a party.

Host your own casual dinner party or open house and invite your neighbors, people from work, or acquaintances you’ve bumped into along the way. Invite them to bring a friend along so you expand your potential circle of new connections. You don’t have to do anything elaborate. Make a pot of soup or order a few pizzas. The point is to simply bring people together and expand your circles.

Find a business association.

Are there groups or associations related to your career? Research local business events and attend them so you can network professionally and personally.

Go to a cultural event.

Become an annual member of the symphony, local theater, or ballet. Attend the performances as well as the fundraising and member events. Strike up conversations with other attendees who are there because they appreciate the arts just like you. If you prefer visual art, visit your local galleries, talk with the owners or managers, and discuss the art with other guests.

Join the gym.

One of the best ways to meet people is in a class at the gym. But if classes aren’t your thing, spend time in the weight room when it’s busy so you can converse with other gym rats. If there’s a cafe or juice bar at your gym, hang out for a bit after your workout and connect with other members. If you have a couple of friends or acquaintances who have a larger circle of friends, ask them to introduce you to new people. If you’ve moved to a new city, maybe your existing friends know people in your new city. Ask them to make an email connection and then follow up yourself to suggest a get-together.

Take a dance class.

Ballroom dancing is a great way to get up close and personal with potential new friends or romantic partners. But you don’t have to stick with ballroom dance. Take a jazz class, Zumba, or Salsa dancing. It’s great exercise, and you’ll meet fun people who enjoy kicking up their heels.

Find a church or religious community.

If you’re a spiritual person or have a strong faith, your church, synagogue or other religious community is the perfect place to meet supportive, likeminded friends.

Go to seminars, book signings, or speaking events.

Look in your local community guide to see what happenings and events are coming up in your area. Attend some of these events and try to sit next to someone who might be looking for a new friend too.

Hang out at a jazz or music club.

Do you enjoy jazz or some other music genre that works well in a smaller venue and allows for conversation? Find a cool, low key club where you can listen to great music and start up an interesting conversation.

Take your book or computer to a coffee house.

It’s easy to keep your head down in your computer or book, but look up every now and then and survey the landscape. Strike up a conversation with the person at the table next to you. You never know who you might meet.

Hang out at the local museum.

Get thee to a museum! Do you like art? Natural history? Science? Most cities have one or several museums devoted to something that interests you. You’ll have no shortage of things to talk about if you chat it up with another museum-goer.

Take an art class (or any class).

Taking a class automatically throws you into a group of likeminded people. Try to enroll in a more hands-on class rather than a lecture course, which will allow you to talk with other students. Some kind of art class generally allows for more conversation. Make a point to introduce yourself to other students and initiate conversation with those around you.

Join the board of a charity.

Do you have a cause that’s particularly meaningful to you? If so, get really involved by becoming a board member or key player for the organization. As a leader/decision-maker in the non-profit world, you’ll be exposed to a variety of interesting people who support your cause.

Get a part-time job working with people you like.

If you work from home or in an environment that isn’t conducive to meeting new people, then consider a part-time job working in a more social environment. Working just a few hours a week as a host/hostess at a restaurant, in a coffee shop, or as a bartender will give you the chance to meet hundreds of the different people.

Eat dinner at the bar of your favorite restaurant.

It can be intimidating to go to a restaurant by yourself, but try dining out and sitting at the bar instead. Chat up the bartender (if he/she isn’t too busy) and make conversation with the people around you. Whatever you do, don’t put your head in a book or your iPhone. Try to appear approachable and friendly.

Accept invitations.

If you want to meet new people, don’t turn down invitations to social events, even if you think the event might not be your thing, take a chance and go anyway! You never know what connections you might make, or who you'll end up meeting.  If you don't go, you'll never know! You are always able to leave if it just really isn't your thing. So why not at least try?

As you practice some of these ideas for meeting new people, remember that you’ll have to push through some discomfort as you put yourself out there. You’ll need to step up and introduce yourself, initiate a conversation, or suggest meeting up, and even so, it may take some time to discover your tribe of new friends who feel comfortable and supportive.

You can’t develop a friendship with someone unless you go through the “developing” stage, which can be a little stiff and awkward at first. Building trust, closeness, and camaraderie will be a work in progress, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a great social life in the meantime.

The more you put yourself in social settings, the better the odds are that you’ll meet interesting, fun new people who will improve your life, even if they don’t ultimately become your best friends.