London is the greatest city in the world. But like most big cities it can be lonely. So you when you first arrive you will be asking yourself: How do I make friends in London?
There is one major cause for this is and it is known as high population transience. In other words in large cities like London people move in and out frequently. There are many reasons for this – one being a lot of people come from abroad to study for a set time period, and also to work on short duration visas. In addition the pace of life can be very hectic and many people that come to London burn out due to the stress of work, cost of living and seeing friends constantly coming and going.
All this means you will need to keep making new friends on a continuous basis. When you first arrive you can grow your circle of friends by using your existing contacts and building from there. If you arrive in a big city like London and you do not know anyone that is a tough situation, because you do not have a starting point. If you have been in London a while you could also find yourself in the situation that you had a group of friends but now they have moved city or maybe they have got married and dont go out anymore.
Whatever your situation help is at hand – we have the tips, tricks and strategies to jump start your social life in London in no time!
Here is new2londons top 50 secrets of making new friends in London!
We have broken the guide into three parts…
Part 1 – THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MAKING FRIENDS IN LONDON UNCOVERED
Part 2 – THE SCIENCE OF MAKING FRIENDS IN LONDON REVEALED
Part 3 – HOW TO KEEP YOUR FRIENDS IN LONDON
Part 1 – The psychology of making friends
We need to prepare you for making friends. If you do not get the basics right before you start you will have a hard time making friends!
1) Know yourself inside out : Who are you?
Many people suffer from self consciousness; this could present itself in many forms such as shyness or the need to show off. Its easy for people to say, just be yourself when you may not know who and what yourself is, let alone what you want and need out of a friend. A great tip is to get a piece of paper and write down your attributes and what you want out of friendship.
Remember the goal of this task is to allow you clarify what type of person you are and what type of person you are looking to befriend. Make a list, using below as an example:
What are your goals?
What are your values?
What are your principles?
What have you accomplished?
What do you have going for yourself?
What type of films do you like?
What type of books do you like to read?
What sports do you like?
What are your hobbies?
Who do you like to spend time with?
What are your best personality traits?
What are your worst personality traits?
2) Be more interesting : No one likes a bore right?
The more things you are interested in – the more interesting you will be! Take some time to learn more skills in order to make you appear a more rounded person, youll have more to talk about and more to offer to potential new friends. Another great way is to take up new a hobby, which may of course, also help you meet new people.
Things which can improve your interestingness…
Having interesting life experiences and stories to tell eg travelling around the world
Being musically or artistically talented
Being knowledgeable about various topics and being able to speak about these topics with ease
Having your own opinions and philosophies
Being well read – read lots of books or news then you will have lots to talk about
3) Take the initiative: it has to start with you
It is a huge mistake waiting for other people to befriend you, of course this may happen but dont rely on it. If you are lonely, you will have to make the effort to find a group of friends yourself, Its smart to assume that it is you that will have to put all the work in. If you want to make plans to go out, dont sit and wait for the phone call get in touch people and start making plans.
4) Strike up a conversation
Everywhere you go, its quite simple – the more people you speak to the more chance you have of making friends.
If you find it hard to start a conversation, it is good to find common ground. There are a couple of good points to start on:
London – speak about your knowledge and experience in London. You can find interesting facts about London by reading Things to do in London
Current affairs – catch up on the news regularly, this is always a good starting point for a conversation.
Talk about music, if youre in an establishment with a jukebox invite people to help you choose the music.
5) Eye contact: are you talking to me?
A bit of a no-brainer but an essential many people forget when meeting new people. According to a traditional proverb eyes are the window to the soul, and as such, if you cant make eye contact you appear nervous and unwilling to let people in. Maintaining poor eye contact is also a sign that what you are saying is not genuine or you are lying. By not making eye contact you are essentially putting up unnecessary barriers between you and the person youre speaking to. Maintaining eye contact allows you to appear confident and you are able to communicate non-verbally, and non-verbal body language often speaks louder than words.
Remember to smile, it shows you are open and that you are interested in what other people have to say and quite simply makes you look more attractive and approachable.
Dont get carried away with yourself and just keep on talking and dont just nod along when a new friend speaks, genuinely listen to what the other person has to say and add comments where relevant. This shows you are open to what other people have to say, that you understand them and that you are not one-sided or selfish. Besides, if they are boring you, its probably time to move on and speak to someone else.
8) Get great body language
It is extremely important to understand body language, both how you use it and how others use it. Understanding body language is a very complex affair but here a few simple and easy tips:
Open body language, standing straight with your arms by your sides shows you are open Closed body language, folded arms, head down. Shows you are guarded, shy, uncomfortable or unapproachable. Touch, whilst in conversation touch is used to convey interest and trust. Distance, if someone moves closer or backs off this shows how interested or comfortable they are with you.
9) Dont be afraid of rejection
It can seem like everyone has their own group of friends and they do not want any new friends but in the majority of cases this assumption is wrong! Do not worry about coming across desperate. Once your new circle of friends is in place you will not need to approach people any longer.
10) Ask for their number
Make it a habit to always get the contact details of the people you meet, you could be out and click with a particular person or group only for them to disappear and you never see them again. Ask for their phone number, email address and even easier would be to ask them their Facebook details. And dont be afraid to do this, they have taken the time to speak to you in the first place.
11) Put the law of averages to work
Success in all things in life has a lot to do with the law of averages. The more often you try the more likely you are to succeed. Therefore the more people you approach or ask out to an event the more chance you have of building your new circle of friends.
12) Learn patience: the best friends come to those who wait
Sometimes you will meet someone new in London and you will naturally click. But sometimes you will have to know them for months before applying the friend label to them. Often its the people that take the longest to make friends with that you will end up having a long lasting relationship with. You may find you are limited by how much you connect with others on a first meeting. You may warm to each other after the second and subsequent times you meet.
13) Lower your standards: dont be too choosy at first
Once you have one friend it is easier to get more. So dont be too fussy who you hang out with at first. It is better to be out there socialising as opposed to staying indoors feeling sorry for yourself. Lonely people tend to be more negative about others, if this is you -then get out of this mindset. You will not know how fun somebody will be until you hang out with them for a while.
14) Accept every invitation
If somebody asks you to go out, then that is good news they must like you! But if it is the first time they ask you, its critical you find a way to accept, because if you refuse the first time, then the person may not ask again. Sometimes youll have to inconvenience yourself for the sake of your social life. Dont turn down a golden chance to make a new friend! When youve got more friends and different options competing for your time you can be choosier.
15) Make compliments; youre right this dress does look great
Do not be afraid to compliment people, if you think someone is good at something then tell them, if you like their clothes tell them, if you think someone is cool tell them. Besides from making you more likeable, its a great conversation starter. Again, it is important not to overdo it, its much better when you really mean it.
16) Dont ignore shy people
If you are with someone who is quiet and seems shy, take the time to speak to them – they will respect you for it. Shy people tend to be more genuine and loyal as friends.
17) Respect peoples opinions
Regardless of what they say or do, this shows understanding. If you treat people with respect they will treat you the same way back. If they dont then maybe they are not ideal friend material anyway.
18) Make generous gestures; this round of drinks is on me
When you are with people you like, offer to buy them drinks or shots, pick up the tab for a meal, hold open doors; occasionally making nice gestures can help reinforce relationships and make you more likeable. Be aware though, dont do these things to buy peoples affection as this can make people feel unconformable and people may take you for granted.
19) Learn tenacity: dont ever give up
They say the first step is the hardest, in your case the first friend is the hardest. The trick is to not give up on finding that first friend. Once you have one you will see finding more gets easier.
Part 2 – The science of making friends in London
You should now be ready to go out there and start making new friends. The next section lists various places and activities where you can easily make meaningful relationships. All you have to do is get out of the house; youve got nothing to lose. Just remember all of the tips in the previous section.
20) Get outside
The key to success in building your new circle of friends is to get out there! One thing is for sure, you will not meet new people in your bedroom! You need to get out of the house and mingle. Social networking is a great place to start but you cant beat actually meeting people face to face. Check out our essential article The first step tomeeting friends in London
21) Go where the people are
If whilst at work, for instance, everybody goes for a drink/out to lunch, invite yourself say, Hey, Id be up for that too – chances no one will mind and you have a chance to show that you are an attractive, fun and friendly person. If you are at a party and most people are talking in the kitchen, go and join them and join in. By showing you want to be where the people are, you are showing people you are confident and friendly.
22) Join a support group
If you have decided in from the tips and tasks in section 1, that you may have an anxiety problem, individuals or organizations in some cities run support groups for issues like social anxiety or Aspersers. Joining will obviously help you work on and overcome the issues caused by the condition. Youll also probably get some social benefits as well, just from being around other people at a social anxiety support group, youll become more comfortable with others. An Aspergers group may specifically address the issue of social skills and conduct role plays and exercises to help the members improve (or not, its hard to say what will happen in any one group). Dont be afraid, remember if you have an anxiety issue, by doing this you will increase your confidence and is the first step on your journey to make more friends.
23) Play a team sport
One of the best ways to meet people quickly is to play sport. But the key is to play a group sport; lone sports such as fishing or going to the gym you will more likely have you talking to yourself, and there is little chance of meeting anyone new, let any making any meaningful connections. If you play a game like football, rugby or hockey you will instantly meet a large number of potential new friends straight away. Youre bound to talk to them and bond with them as you play. Who knows, they may even ask you out for post match drinks, if not, you might want to be proactive and suggest it yourself. You can also link up with other players/groups looking for a game. Also, why not create a post on a new2london forum, youre bound to find a willing partner.
24) Turn an individual sport into a team sport
If you are naturally passionate about a sport or activity that isnt a team game – make it into one! Take an activity that you normally do on your own and introduce a social element into it. If you like running, then look for a running partner If you look for a group activity but you cannot find one, try starting one yourself – the new2london forum is a great place to start. The being the organizer element of making friends is something you need to embrace.
25) Get a part time job
As we know, a significant proportion of our working week is spent with work colleagues so its no surprise we gain a lot of friends either directly or indirectly through work. But what if you work as a train driver or security guard – you may not meet very many people during your working day at all. So why not consider a part time job where you will meet lots of new people.
Examples include: Retail shops are always full of people plus youll learn how to approach and helping customers, learning to be pleasant and friendly.
A bar-person, a waiter or waitress, a barista or indeed, any job involving sales – these jobs will also help you become a more confident speaker as the customers will most likely want to speak to you, double score!
26) Become a volunteer
If money isnt an issue for you why not consider volunteering in London. Volunteering is great for your community and makes the world a better place; but could it actually make a positive impact on your life too. Theres no better place to meet likeminded individuals than through volunteering for a campaign or cause you believe in. Working together to bring about change is a great way to bond with others and become part of a community. Plus, you will meet people from a diverse range of backgrounds – people you may never come across in your daily life. In summary you will meet new people and feel good about yourself. A win-win all round!
27) Take a class
Besides the physical benefits of activity-based courses, from dance to yoga to kick-boxing, the positive effect of classes on a students mental health and lifestyle can be immense. Besides, you will meet loads of new people with whom you have instant common ground.
One class in particular would be worth considering, comedy! Funny people are always the most popular individuals around – everyone loves to laugh and be happy. A comedy class would help you to become more confident and think on your toes. The same goes with acting classes, group singing classes and group dance classes.
28) Join a society
If you are a student, join one of the societies available to students at your university. Most universities hold a freshers fair in the first few weeks of study, the societies will have a presence to recruit new members. Examples of typical societies are sporting groups, literature groups, music based groups etc. Of course, if you dont find something youre interested in, why not start your own society- chances are theres a few others with the same interest wholl help. And think about it, what could be better than meeting people with the exact same interest, this is great common ground.
29) Go to open mic nights
If you are a musician, a singer, want to start or you simply love live underground music, an open mic night is the perfect place to meet new people. Open mic nights are much more intimate and sometimes quieter than regular gigs, making them the ideal place to strike up a conversation with likeminded people. Sometimes, because they are free, groups will choose an open mic night to socialise. Perfect, all you have to do is turn up and turn on your charm. Even better, open mic nights are an excellent starting point if you are interested in forming a band.
Alternately, find likeminded people on new2london.com and host your own open mic night.
30) Go to gigs
Going to concerts can also help you to gain new friends, but if you are going solely with the aim of finding cool new people to hang out with, youre best sticking to smaller, more intimate venues and performances. There thousands of free events which take place in London each year such as sporting events, music events, exhibitions, festivals, carnivals and seminars, all are fantastic starting points for making connections and even better, they are all for free.
31) Join a book group
A great place to start would be your local library, they will run weekly meetings where you read and discuss various books, check out http://www.londonlibraries.org for a list of the groups and libraries available. Alternatively, many independent bookshops also run book groups, you will either have to pay a small fee or buy your books from the shop, check out http://www.bookgroup.info for more details. Its always worth posting in the new2london.com forums, you may find a partner to come with you. Either way, reading books and sharing your comments is an excellent way to make new friends and improve your confidence.
32) Go to art exhibitions and museums
V&A museum is one of the most popular museums where you can learn interesting new facts and meet a diverse range of people. Many museums have social events such as talks, seminars, music and dance performances, often free and all great opportunities to meet intelligent, cultured people. Many museums also have members only events, if youre a cultured person this is a great place to start. Even if youre not, think back to the previous section – this is something you can build on.
Whether its a lounging in the park on a sunny day or arranging a meet up for a walk, parks are a great starting point.
34) Form a band
If you can sing or play an instrument , joining or forming a band is probably one of the best things you can do to meet new people – it works on so many levels; you gain band mates, you will most probably ,meet their friends, if you begin to play gigs you will meet other bands/promoter/other people involved in the underground live music scene and you will meet gig goers. The best place to start looking for musicians would to post on new2london.com forums otherwise www.joinmyband.co.uk or www.bandmix.co.uk are good places to start.
If you cant play anything, it is worth taking an instrument as a hobby – the amount of people you will meet is phenomenal. The easiest instruments to learn are keyboard, guitar and bass. If you are desperate to just get out there and start playing, bass is the easiest – some bass lines can be learned in minutes with no previous experience. A great place to start if you want to learn to play is to post on new2london.com forum and ask members if they will teach you or start a beginners group, Im sure many will be happy. If you can play, why not offer your services.
35) Go Speed Dating in London
Speed dating is an excellent way to meet new friends. It is more dating orientated being a forum where couples go on a 2 minute date to see if they are compatible. Each person then decides whether they like each person and organisers will tell you which matches you have. If you are not looking for love you can still talk to the people, you may hit it off.
36) Go bar hopping in London
As we learned in the previous section, one of the best ways to meet people is to just get out there and start talking to people, and where better than a bar or club? Everyone will be happy and ready to party, why not put on your best smile and go and charm people. If you have a few friends, suggest going out to bars with the wider group and maybe youll pick up a few more contacts. If you havent been successful yet, dont worry, just muster your confidence and get out there. Or alternately:
37) Go to your local pub in London
Find out where your nearest pub is, if you go regularly its only natural the regulars and staff will start to recognise you and you will get to know them. If the pub isnt too busy, you can get talking to the bar staff who will most probably appreciate you giving them your time. If you are looking for a job, why not check if they have vacancies. Pubs are also great places to play games such as pool, darts and cards – why not ask people to play you, this is a great ice breaker. The more you do this and repeat it, the more people youll meet or youll make stronger relationships with the people there already. The more you are seen, the more familiar youll become and therefore, people will trust and like you more.
38) Become a DJ
These days all you need is an iPod and some basic social skills. When you get invited to a party, or you are ready to hold your own, load up your iPod with all your favourite tunes, bear in mind what types of songs others would like to hear. Another good idea would be to check out the charts and download some of the top tunes of the moment. Ask your friends to send you some playlists to add also. Think of the songs you want to play, and put them into a playlist. When you get there, find out whose party it is and ask if you can play your iPod. Stay close to the sound system, people will start asking for requests and from there you can start talking to them. Who knows, you may get invited to more parties because of the success.
39) Hang around
If you identify with or are interested in a particular subculture, why not find out where they hang out. For example, if you are into punk pop into Camden, there you will find many likeminded people and theres a high chance youll find an opportunity to strike up a conversation, if not find one. The more you are seen the more youll get to know people and they will trust you.
40) Join a faith group
If you are religious, why not join your local Church, Mosque or Synagogue? This can be one of the best platforms to meet new people and become involved in the community. Theres also a chance itll lead to a host of other activities and opportunities to form relationships. Make sure you take the time to speak to the congregation and officials, letting them know you are new to the area and want to contribute to the community.
41) Talk to your neighbours and housemates
If you live in a shared house, get to know your housemates suggest going for drinks, offer to cook a meal, etc. Very often, strangers who live in a shared house become great friends. And of course, they will all have their own friends who you could meet by arranging house parties and drinks out. Communicate with your housemates as they may be busy or angry if you organise a party without their consent.
If you get a moment to speak to your neighbours, make the effort. A good start would be to introduce yourself when you first meet up and say hello every time you see them. However, dont worry if they ignore you, they may not be friendly or not want to befriend you – dont be offended. If you live in a flat block or estate, find out if ether is a community group regarding housing and social issues.
42) Wine Tasting
There are all sorts of chances to go wine tasting these days, in all sorts of venues. Even quite modest local pubs have a monthly wine-tasting, hosted by a WSET-qualified taster. They usually follow a theme or region – Australian wines, or dessert wines, and you taste, make notes and swap comments. The great thing here is its not a pub quiz – there is no right or wrong, just opinions, and you will find yourself sitting at a table with a few strangers who by the end of the evening will be pals.
43) Organised walks
These are more popular than you might think, and theyre great fun. All sorts of walks are available, from Jack the Rippers London to the birds of Hampstead Heath. Take the plunge, and youll find lots of friendly, knowledgeable people. And youll get to know more of London.
44) Free TV tickets
Subscribe to free TV shows on the various websites, and you can get tickets to all sorts of TV and radio recordings, like Harry Hill and several Radio 4 comedies. Again, your fellow fans will be like-minded people, and up for a chat at the interval.
45) Attend networking events in London
As you are new to London, attending a networking event in your industry can be incredibly rewarding both for work and pleasure. For a full list of networking events check out www.findnetworkingevents.com/in/greater-london/
Part 3 – How to keep your friends in London
Well by now you should have a growing circle of friends. But friendships need constant attention to stay healthy. If you neglect your new friends in London they will find someone new. Heres how to stop that from happening to you…
46) Stay in touch
A long lasting friendship needs effort to keep it going. Never leave it too long to contact a friend or you may lose them. Emailing, texting, and social networking are great ways to keep you in the consciousness of your friends. You will need to work out how often you need to stay in touch or meet up, for every friendship and acquaintance theres a right amount of time; Its important to work this out, some friends will only want to meet up monthly, others will wonder if youre ok if you dont contact then after a week or so. Over time, you will work out which applies to whom, but it is important to not appear too needy, this could scare people off. Sometimes potential new friends may be a little more laid back when returning your calls/emails etc, than you would be, dont worry about this theyre not trying to reject you.
If you have a group of old friends consider organising a meet up. For advice on how to create a successful meetup visit How to create a successful meet up in London
47) Meet regularly
The majority of close friendship will require meeting up regularly. Others are more casual acquaintances and you wont need to stay in constant contact – dont disregard these relationships, its always good to have other options so you dont have to be too needy and you could always meet new friends through these people. Communicating electronically is a great way to stay in touch with your friends but nothing is better than meeting up face to face for a drink and a chat.
Build on the friends youve made, their friends can become yours too. Once you have made a few friends, youve got a good base to work from. Some super social people will need large groups, for others one or two really close friends is all thats needed to stop the feelings of loneliness. After a while youll start meeting your new friends and acquaintances and if you get on with them, sooner or later youll start hanging out with the whole group. And of course this is a great way to meet entirely new people; your friends will make it easier when inviting people to parties.
48) Keeping making new friends
Even if you are very good at maintaining healthy friendships sometimes you cant help but lose friends. Perhaps they will move away from London, get married and settle down or leave the UK altogether. There is nothing you can do to stop these events. That is why you need to keep making new friends -that way you wont find yourself suddenly with no friends at all. You can never have enough friends right?
49) Repeat these steps
At this point you should have a few friendships under your belt. Dont stop now, repeat everything you did to make your first friends. You can never have too many friends and soon youll have a massive circle of friends and acquaintances to share London with.
50) Attend new2london events
new2london organise friendly events where you can meet people who want to meet you.