Making friends as an adult can seem nearly impossible, especially if you (or your friends) have moved away from home. And if your social circle gets smaller, opening it up to new people can be an added challenge. Some of your best friends may be getting married and having kids. Others may be throwing themselves into a new professional circle or going to graduate school. Unlike the good old days, we no longer have the luxury of school teachers who force you to sit next to someone new or introduce yourself to the entire class along with three fun facts.
But if you’re ready to step outside your comfort zone, just a little bit, to make new friends and experience new things, then there’s one thing you need to focus on. The first impression.
In just seconds people can determine how they feel about someone, and it can be hard to change their mind. So, it’s important to follow the right guidelines to positively stand out in the crowd. From your outfit to the conversation, our top tips will help you make a great first impression.
- Accessories make statements. It may seem superficial, but a first look is the first step of a first impression (that’s the first in a long line of firsts!). The way you dress can say a lot about who you are. A really glam necklace can show off your love of fashion. A fitness watch can signal your outdoorsy nature. One of the first places people will look at while talking to you is at your eyes. If you’re heading to an outdoor event, grab a pair of sunglasses that make you feel confident. For a range of styles to complement any face shape, click here.
- Wear non-intimidating clothes. If you’re trying to broaden your social circle, wear an outfit that isn’t “loud” (bright colors, or excess fringe/ribbons). While you should always dress for the environment you’re in — wedding attire isn’t great for a sports bar — something basic like jeans and a t-shirt can signal to others that you’re around to hang out and have fun. Unless of course you have a bold personality and want people to know right away… have fun and shine on!
- Avoid wrinkles and weird smells. We’ve all quickly grabbed our favorite shirt or pants off the floor and headed out the door. But if your clothes are wrinkled or smell like last night’s dinner party, you’ll give off the impression that you don’t care about your hygiene or personal appearance. If you’re not sure you can get away with wearing that outfit again, you probably shouldn’t.
- Wear what makes you feel good. Above all else, the most important thing to wear is something that feels comfortable. Too-tight pants or painful shoes can have you grimacing throughout the day and shifting uncomfortably in conversation. Don’t force yourself into an outfit you don’t really like because it’s “fancier.” Feel good about yourself and what you wear.
- Set the right intentions. One of the keys to building confidence is to focus on the energy you want to exude when you meet someone new. Think about the types of people you’d like to attract and the attitude you want to project. Setting your intention for the day can help you better navigate the situation.
- Watch your body language. People can tell when you’ve had a bad day or are too nervous to talk. Folding your arms, looking down or away from others and not having a smile on your face can signal to someone that you just want to be left alone – even if the reality you’re just a bit shy!
- Step outside your comfort zone. We don’t make best friends by waiting around. Join some new groups and get curious. Go discover someone new, rather than waiting for someone to discover you instead.
- Be curious. Good conversations happen with good questions. While it’s hard to find common ground immediately, people are often eager to share something about themselves. Ask questions and show interest in responses and you’ll be chatting and laughing in no time. Open up with a compliment and go from there.
- Have an elevator pitch. This is a tip you normally see for professional networking, but it honestly works for meeting new people in casual situations as well. Think of a small fun blurb to describe yourself or your work that will help others ask questions about yourself too. This way, you’ll feel more prepared for the conversation.
- When in doubt, talk about food. Instead of the weather or the last sports game, talk about food. Absolutely everyone eats and it can say a lot about their lifestyle. You might find a baking enthusiast, a vegetarian or a chef. From there, you can ask all sorts of questions to keep the conversation going!
Above all else, be yourself. Lasting friendships and relationships happen because you’re honest about yourself with others. While you shouldn’t overshare, relax and be okay with your laugh, your jokes and what makes you you.