For many, opportunities to make friends seem to dwindle with time.
The older we get the harder it can seem to meet someone new and create a whole new friendship.
For some, it’s because they feel like they don’t have the time. Others don’t have the energy. And some just don’t know where to go or what to do.
While I offer solutions to all of those challenges in this online course of mine, there’s something else we can do that by-passes a lot of these issues.
This simple technique will help you make friends out of the people you already know. The ones you might like, but barely know.
(This, of course, requires that there are people in your extended network that you might want to have as friends. Someone who seems nice, fun, interesting, or just like someone you’d get along with.)
And all the technique requires is that you have a casual way of reaching out to them. And that you have an extra couple of minutes in your day here and there.
I call this technique “pinging”, and the core of it is very simple.
All you have to do is reach out with the occasional comment or question. Something simple that doesn’t ask for anything more than a short reply back.
Perhaps they post a photo of hiking in the mountains. An example of a ping might be to send them a message and say, “your hike looks amazing, where is it? I’d like to check it out someday.”
Whatever you see that sounds interesting to you, that you have an actual question about, or want to make a fun or interesting comment on will work.
And make sure to keep these genuine. After all, you’re looking for a friend – someone who is compatible with you. So if you can’t find anything in their life that seems interesting to you, they might not be the right one.
I also strongly recommend you do this with multiple people at the time if you can. Anyone who seems nice, interesting, fun, etc.
That way you’ll both have a higher chance of connecting with someone you’re both compatible with and that are open to new friendships. And you’ll not put all your eggs in one basket and get too invested in the people you’re pinging.
In some cases, you might get a reply that both answers your question and expands the conversation. It could be a question directed at you or a comment that makes it natural to keep talking.
If so, continue the conversation, and feel free to skip to the next section of this article.
In most cases, though, you’ll get a short reply that doesn’t actively invite the conversation to keep going. One where they tell you the name of the place and encourage you to go, or something similar.
If so, say thank you (or whatever else is appropriate) and leave it at that for now.
A little while later (a couple of weeks or so is often good) you can ping them again with something else.*
Or, if you happen to go on that hike – ping them with a message afterward and let them know that you had a good time.
Repeat this process until the replies you get are more involved. Until the other person asks you questions or makes comments to continue the conversation after the initial exchange. Or until the other person starts initiating contact with you.
Once that happens, move to the next step.
* If you notice that people don’t reply, hardly reply, or seem not very interested in replying to your pings – stop. There’s no sense in being pushy. And if someone doesn’t seem interested in even replying to something that would take them a few seconds to type, they’re likely not looking to expand their network, and wouldn’t really be a good friend anyway.
Make friends for real.
When you get to the point of the other person initiating conversations with you, or making an effort to extend the conversation beyond the ping that you sent, you can take things further.
This, usually, means that you have become someone the other person thinks about in their daily life. Or someone they’re happy to hear from and enjoy talking to.
So now it’s time to move the interactions out of the digital and into the real world.
All we have to do is suggest doing something together during one of our conversations.
Keep it simple – but give a clear and specific invitation. None of this, “we should do something someday”-stuff.
“Hey, it’s been nice chatting with you lately. Let’s <insert suitable activity> on <suggest day>?”
Spending time together in the real world is what will truly tell us if our chemistry is good. If we’re compatible.
It’s in the real world we truly make friends. And if we enjoy that time together, we simply have to keep initiating meet-ups until it becomes a habit for both of us.
And before we know it, we have a new friend to spend time with.