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Make Friends Inside and Outside the Office

When we were younger, making friends was easy. School provides us with an instant pool of people our own age that we interact with on a daily basis and who are in the same boat we are. But once we leave college and enter the real world, finding friends can be a more difficult task, especially if you have to relocate for a job.

Whether in or out of the office, you are dealing with a myriad of ages, interests, and personalities. So how do you sift through it all to find true friends? Here are some tips on how to make it happen.

Make Yourself Accessible

At the Office
The workplace can be a hard place to approach people. Cubicles are isolating by nature, which makes it hard to interact with your coworkers. Make an effort to show you’re a friendly person. Decorate your cube. Engage in office banter. Ask coworkers how their weekend was. Any excuse to interact with your colleagues will help show them that you are willing to make the effort to be friends.

Out of the Office
When you aren’t at the office, you don’t have a direct pool of people to interact with. The entire city is a pool of possible friends. The best approach is to simply be approachable. Be friendly. Smile and say hi as people pass. Strike up a conversation in the line at the grocery store or the bank. The friendlier you are, the more people will want to interact with you.

Reach Out of Your Comfort Zone

At the Office
You can’t sit in your little bubble and expect people to approach you. You are going to have to handle some awkward social situations before you can find your work BFF. Take every invite to go out to lunch, even if you’ve brought your own. Attend every work happy hour. If your coworkers want to sing “Love Is a Battlefield” at karaoke, get up on stage with them. You need to show you’re a team player if you want to be included in their reindeer games.

Out of the Office
If you continue to go to the same bars or same places to eat, you are going to keep running into the same people. Branch out. Take a class. Start shopping at a different market. Go to a movie or dinner alone, or grab a drink by yourself. Strike up a conversation with the bartender. If you have social anxiety, and strangers scare you, try starting small, like chatting with the Starbucks barista you see every morning.

Find Common Interest

At the Office
If your office has groups or clubs for employees, it could be the perfect way to meet coworkers with similar interests. Join the company gym. Volunteer for the company’s philanthropy efforts. Or even start your own group at the office. Finding coworkers with similar interests guarantees that you have something to bond over that’s not just work.

Out of the Office
No matter what city you are in, there are people who share your interests. Find the local groups of your interest. Love to bowl? Join a bowling league. Enjoy a good book? Find a book club. Are you an avid runner? Get into a running group. Finding smaller pools of people also allows you to interact with people in a closer, more personal way.

Try Unconventional Methods

At the Office
If you have tried the subtle approach and nothing is happening, try taking charge of the situation. Invite some of your coworkers out for a happy hour. Organize an after-work movie night. Find a good excuse to get some of your coworkers to hang out in a social setting.

Out of the Office
If social settings aren’t working for you, take your search online. Some local sites can offer ways for locals with similar interests to connect. Dating sites can also be an excellent way to make friends. And you could even find a significant other during the process.

Making friends can be a trying experience, but all you need is one new friend to help you branch out and find more. Remember, in general, people are friendly; you just need to make the effort to get to know them.

Originally published on Excelle