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Making friends is easy, right? It’s a skill most of us pick up on the playground in preschool. Throughout elementary school, high school and college, our network of friends grows.
Until graduation day. And then everything changes.
As a young professional with no obligations except to head to my new job every day from eight to five, I was excited to have seemingly endless amounts of free time ahead of me. With no pesky research papers, back-to-back classes and late-night meetings to keep me busy, I dreamed of happy hours, vacations and jam-packed friend-filled weekends.
But I found myself in for a rude awakening; I had all the time in the world to spare, but no friends around to spend that time with.
Making friends post-college can be more difficult than it first appears. Many young professionals relocate for new jobs, often moving to cities where they know literally no one. Others leave campus and head back home to figure out their next steps. That comfortable college bubble where friends live minutes (or even just a few doors down the hall) away is no more. Which brings a new, often unexpected challenge: making new friends.
Here are a few tips to get you back on the social circuit in no time:
1. Become “real life” friends with your tweeps
You know those people who you constantly chat with on Twitter or who you’ve gotten to know through blogging? Take the leap from computer to the coffee shop. (Or bar. Whatever floats your boat.)
Sure, it might be awkward for the first few minutes, but generally, those online friendships translate pretty smoothly to real life. A few months ago, I met a group of girls I’d only chatted with on Twitter, and now we get together once a month for drinks and dinner. #Socialmedia success!
2. Join professional organizations
In college, most of my best friends shared my major and belonged to our major’s pre-professional organization. Once I graduated, I joined a few professional organizations and quickly found a group of people who I instantly had something in common with – our profession.
Hopefully you enjoy your job (or at least the field you work in) and can find common ground with those who share similar passions.
3. Search for unique Groupon and LivingSocial deals
Daily deal sites aren’t just for finding a cheap massage or an awesome discount at your favorite restaurant. These sites also offer amazing deals that get you out of your comfort zone and into unique experiences with total strangers.
For example, a quick search of LivingSocial Adventures offered up deals for wine tours, bar crawls, ski/snowboard day, sushi making classes and more. The best part about these deals are that they aren’t meant to be solo experiences; you can bring along a friend and meet new people during a group adventure.
4. Take a class
Taking a class is not only a great way to expand your knowledge, but also to expand your group of friends. Enroll yourself in that cooking class you’ve always wanted to take, a fitness class to burn some extra calories, or a scrapbooking class to get in touch with your creative side. Or try an online class! You can learn something new, all while getting social and making new friends.
5. Make new friends, but rekindle the old
Reconnect with those high school friends you may have lost touch with when you parted ways for college.
I know, I know – You think you might not have anything in common anymore. But hear me out. Your high school classmates have had four years (or more!) to grow up. It might feel great to resurrect those long-lost relationships (especially if you’ve moved back home). And who knows? You might have more in common than you originally thought.
Have any tips for making friends post-college?
Jessica Lawlor is a public relations professional in Philadelphia. In her free time, she manages a book review and writing blog and is training for the Broad Street Run.