There are loads of moments in life when you have the chance to meet new people and make new friends.
You might be looking forward to it, and be confident about it, but it can be a nerve-wracking experience for some people. Meeting new people can be really interesting. You can end up having great conversations, discovering new stuff and making good friends. But, it can also be a fairly worrying experience.
Ways to meet people
You might be nervous and wonder what you’ll say, how you should act, and what people will think of you. Everyone feels like that sometimes and it’s really normal. However, if your feelings are affecting your ability to meet new people and you feel like it’s becoming a problem, talk to someone about it.
Good tips for meeting new people include:
- Accept invitations when people ask you to do things – you never know who else might be there.
- Go to parties where you meet new people.
- Volunteer (check out your local charities or community events).
- Join a sports or book club.
- Take a course at a community college or learn to dance.
- Walk your dog in the local park (or borrow one!).
- Start random conversations (only if it feels safe) with people in the street or on the bus or train.
Meeting people online
The internet’s a huge part of all our lives, so starting friendships with people you meet online happens all the time.
You can form great friendships this way, plus connect with people from overseas. Discussion forums, chat rooms, or online social networks can be a great place to meet new friends.
Do remember a few online safety tips:
- Be careful on forums – even if someone says they’re a young person, there’s no way of really knowing if this is true.
- On social networking sites, keep your profile as private as possible. Only befriend people known to you (you can chat with new people without allowing full access to your profile).
- Never give out personal details, such as your home address, phone number, school, university or workplace to anybody you don’t know online (or list them on your profile if they can be seen by people you don’t know).
- Never arrange to meet anyone you met online unless someone goes with you and you meet in a public place. People you contact online are not always who they seem.
- If you’re being bullied online, tell someone you trust about it.
Meeting someone for the first time
Try not to judge based on first impressions. Sometimes people feel nervous when they meet new people (you might be too) so don’t always make a great first impression. They might be having a really bad day or be feeling unwell.
Dealing with nerves
When you’re nervous, it’s easy to get tongue-tied or say things you think sound stupid. Building your self-esteem and going easy on yourself can often calm your nerves. If you’re at an event with lots of new people, find the people you already know first to relax a bit before meeting others. If you don’t know anyone and are feeling a bit nervous, chat with a friend on the phone to feel a bit more comfortable.
Smile and make eye contact - You’re more likely to be friendly to someone who smiles at you, so try it yourself. Opening yourself up to people can make them feel more comfortable and more likely to be friendly in response.
Start conversations - It’s a good idea to ask the other person something about themselves to start things off. Try not to get too personal. The first time you meet it’s a good idea to stay clear of talking about religion, sex, politics or death. You could start by asking where they go to school/college, or if you’re at a party, ask someone how they know the person throwing the party. From this starting point, you can find more things to talk about. Listen to their answers and ask follow up questions. This lets people know you’re interested in what they’re saying.
Remember names - It’s always impressive if you can remember someone’s name after meeting them for the first time, and helpful if you need to make introductions.
Tips on remembering names include:
- repeating the name immediately when you meet someone, and trying to use it as much as possible in conversation
- writing it down or save it on your phone (when you get a discreet chance)
- thinking of a famous person who has the same name
- If you forget someone’s name, don’t panic. Just be honest, admit you’re not great at remembering names, and ask them to repeat it for you again.
Be yourself - When you come across as relaxed and confident, it’s likely the person you’re meeting will also feel more relaxed.