How to Make Friends if You’re New to a Group or Community

how to make new friends

I felt like I was in one of those high school movies.  You sit in one spot in no one sits with you.  You sit in another and the people at the table don’t talk to you.  I was trying to get to know more people at a social gathering.  It wasn’t working.  I was sitting at an after church gathering.

It doesn’t matter if you’re new to a neighborhood, job, church, hobby group, or another place, being new is hard and can take some initiative if others aren’t reaching out to you. You’ll get there.

It wasn’t that the people didn’t like me or didn’t care; I think it was about common interests and habit.  People sat with other people they enjoyed talking to each week.  It was easy for them because you already knew what to talk about. 

Then I had a baby and suddenly people came to talk to me and see the little one.  Now we had an important common interest: kids.   I was now a part of the community and sharing an important part of my life with them and letting them be a part of it.

To feel like you belong in what feels like a cliquey group you need to understand the group more.  Here are some tips:

  1. Find out what they enjoy and talk about that.  Maybe they enjoy fishing, knitting, cars, or hiking.  Whatever it is ask questions and show your interest in their hobby/past time and that’ll start to build a connection.
  2. Find out something you have in common to talk about.  This can be tough to learn right away but be patient.  It’ll give you a lot to talk about if you both share a common interest.  Maybe it’s photography or having kids.  Maybe it’s that you both are looking for a career change. 
  3. Understand that it’ll take time and often people don’t even realize they’re being cliquey.  It’s just comfortable for them to talk to the same people.  People often keep in a routine because it’s what they’re used to and comfortable and that includes sitting in the same spot or talking with the same people.  Often times you’ll need to take the first step to initiate conversation.
  4. Branch out and talk to them, but don’t expect they’ll do the same to you right away. Sharing a bit of yourself with the group can be a good way to open up conversation. However, some people don’t like small talk and take a while to warm up to people.  That’s okay.  Again be patient.  If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen.
  5. Be a regular and respect their way of doing things.  If you show an interest and commitment to the group then that’s a great start to building trust and a foundation to being a part of the group eventually.
  6. Ask them to teach/show you something if it’s appropriate.  You see that group in the gym that always works out together.  A workout buddy or group would be great motivation for you but it’s risky and you may get rejected.  Maybe ask them if they have any advice on a particular exercise.

If none of these strategies work maybe the people you’re trying to talk to know they’re cliquey and want to remain exclusive.  If that’s the case, then move on.  They’re more fun and welcoming people out there.

Best of luck in your social group adventure. 

What advice would you give people trying to mingle and belong in social situations?        

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