Humans are social creatures. Since the dawn of civilization, we’ve sought out those who acted or thought like us to create bonds. Those bonds grew and deepened, leading, in essence, to society as we know it. (Both social and society are derived from the Latin socius, which translates to “friend.”)
Having and maintaining strong friendships is important for several reasons. On a fundamental level, friendships help fight off the feelings of sadness and loneliness that accompany isolation. We’ve all been through varying levels of social isolation over the past few years, so it’s extra important to make the step to (re)connect with like-minded individuals.
Second, a strong friendship helps lower stress levels. Who doesn’t love a good inside joke or the chance to take a walk and talk about whatever comes to mind?
Finally, strong friendships have been proven to help you live longer. Studies have shown that a network of friends helps combat various health concerns that could shorten your lifespan. While this may seem especially important for older people, such as in the study, the effects of friendship are beneficial at all ages.
So, what do you do when you realize you need to hit the refresh button on your social life? Read on to find out.
Making New Friends
Make an Effort
This should be a no-brainer: For something — anything — to be successful, you’ve got to put forth the effort. If you don’t, you shouldn’t be surprised when it doesn’t work out as expected. It’s the same with making new friends. If you don’t try, you’ll realize you aren’t making new friends.
Now, we’re not suggesting you should burn yourself out to try and be successful. You just need to stay committed to the idea of making a new friend or two. Will this mean putting yourself out there in a way that may make you slightly uncomfortable sometimes? Yes, but it will be worth it. You just have to trust the process.
Connect With Your Community
We all exist in some sort of community. Physically, we all live somewhere. We also all have hobbies, jobs and other interests. Utilize all these communities when you’re looking to make new friends.
Online groups like Meetup are a great place to find other people with similar interests, and countless groups on social media offer similar experiences. Join a couple of groups, and even if you don’t engage right away, you’ll get a sense of people who like similar things. From there, it goes back to making an effort to interact.
Leverage Your Social Network
If you’ve been working hard to build your business, you know the importance of leveraging your social network already. We are more connected than ever, so why not use that to your advantage when making friendships?
If you notice a friend of a friend posting things that align with your interests — maybe you’re both into the same type of music, and you’ve been at the same concerts — ask your mutual friend to introduce you. The worst thing that could happen is the other person says no, which, while it isn’t the best, keep in mind there’s always more fish in the sea.
When making new friends, you may realize you have more in common the longer you cultivate the friendship. If that’s the case, they may also be interested in living a healthier, happier life. That’s the perfect time to tell them about your business and how it has worked for you. Who knows? They may join your team, and you’ll have even more opportunities to interact with your new friend.
Reconnecting With Old Friends
This tip may seem like a basic one, but communication is key. If you don’t talk to your old friends, how will they know that you want to keep being friends? Yes, some friendships stand the test of time, and you can go weeks or months without speaking and pick it right back up, but for most, you need to communicate.
Keep your conversations as simple as a text message or a weekly call, or opt for something even lighter by sending memes back and forth to give each other something to laugh about. However you best communicate (when’s the last time you wrote a letter?), make sure that you actually do it.
Life gets busier and busier as you get older. Gone are the days when you could play outside all day and only come inside for lunch or dinner. We’ve got jobs, kids, PTA meetings, sports, you name it. To keep your friendships going strong, you need to carve out time to make them work.
Start by scheduling a weekly call (and putting it on your calendar, so you don’t forget) or putting a reminder in your phone to give your friend a call. Your effort goes a long way! It’ll show your friends that you care and want to continue the friendship, despite any obligations.
Friendship isn’t just about having a good time all the time. It’s about being available when you need each other the most. Showing up for your friends is critical in maintaining a deep relationship. You’d want them to do the same for you, wouldn’t you?
Being available doesn’t mean making grand gestures (okay, sometimes it may). Still, it could be as simple as sending a text to check in on them when you know they’re having a hectic week or offering to bring them some soup (or order them some if you’re in different places) when they’re sick.
Big things or little things, if you’re friend knows you’re there for them, that will go a long way in maintaining a friendship over time.
Using these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to connect with friends, new and old, in no time. As we said above, the key is to put in the effort. Once you do, your social destiny is in your hands.