How To Make Friends And Influence People

Image Credit: Canva

Image Credit: Canva

Whether you’re going through first-year orientation at your university, or you’re returning from the mid-term break during your second year, now is the right time to make new friends. The importance of making good friends at university cannot be emphasized enough. The friends you make during university are usually the ones that are going to stick with you throughout your life. They will be your study buddies, the shoulder you lean on when that campus romance goes oh so wrong, and they may even be your future roommates. In this article, you will learn about the best places to meet like-minded people, how to engage them in conversation, how to relate to them, and hopefully how to build a long lasting friendship with them.

Select Your Hunting Ground: This may sound odd, but the process of searching for new friends can be likened to - well - hunting (minus the killing part, of course). With this in mind, the place that you choose to look for new friends will help predetermine the types of people you will meet. For instance, if you’re searching for some study buddies then you should probably head on down to the university library. However, if you love sports and want friends that share that love, then the campus courts, field, or pool would be an advisable place to look. If you’re having trouble finding the right ‘hunting-ground’, then an easy shortcut would be to join a club that is focused on something you are interested in or passionate about. Joining a club is an easy way to make friends, as it introduces you to like-minded students, who are interested in the same activities as you. 

The last hunting ground is also the most obvious, and it’s the theaters where all of your lectures take place. As you walk into a lecture hall, it may be easier to opt for any of the empty side seats, but that’s not the option that's going to make you new friends. You may have noticed that plenty of other people are sitting alone, and although it may be hard to believe, many of these people are just as willing and eager to make friends as you are. 

It’s As Easy As 1, 2, 3: Unless you’re incredibly charming and confident, chances are that you are slightly nervous and uncomfortable about approaching new people. It’s hard to know where to start, but following these three steps should hopefully simplify the process for you. 

  1. The first step to approaching a stranger is to make yourself appear friendly and approachable yourself. They need to know that you have friendly intentions towards them so that they can respond in a friendly manner themselves. The best way to communicate this (before even opening your mouth) is through body language. The body language that signals both friendliness and openness is first, non-confrontational eye-contact, and secondly, a friendly smile. 
  2. Now that you have established that you are interested in a certain person, the next step is to approach them. Lots of people have established certain ‘tactics’ for doing this, like ‘accidentally’ throwing something in their direction, or dropping something next to them. Although, arguably the most effective way - and definitely the easiest way - of approaching somebody, is simply to walk up to them and introduce yourself. Something along the lines of “Hi, I’m ( your name )” should do the trick. However, if this feels too direct for you, you can always try positioning yourself next to them and engage them with small talk. Subjects like the weather, the lecturer, the course, or whatever is going on around you, are all common conversation starters.
  3. The next step towards converting an acquaintance into a new friend is to build personal rapport with them. The best way to do this is to steer away from conventional small-talk, and start asking more open-ended questions that will reveal more about them. In saying this, you shouldn’t confront them with hard-hitting questions that will probably have the effect of making your acquaintance uncomfortable. Instead, ask questions that are related to what you were talking about previously, that will reveal more about this person. For instance, if you were asking about their degree before, you could ask about what they plan to do when they graduate. Maybe you were previously discussing the weather? In that case, you could follow up by asking what’s their favorite season and why. 

It’s fair to say that making friends is unpredictable, and can be harder for some people than others. But by following these steps and having confidence in your own qualities, you will not only be able to approach people and make friends, but you will draw people to you as well.