How To Make Friends After College

June 4, 2013

Or, what I learned at Great America.

This weekend I found myself celebrating a friends birthday at Great America, which for those of you who didn’t grow up in the Bay Area, is a large amusement park, premier summer birthday party destination.  Roller coasters, carnival games, fried food, it’s all there.  I did not really expect to have that good of a time.  I was prepared to muscle through the day as a show of support and love to the birthday girl, leaving tired and sunburned.   We were going with a large group of people, half of which I’d never met before – big groups at amusement parks can be tricky, and I expected this to be no different.  Also I’m still recovering from a back injury and, a little scared of the upside-down rides, so I brought my phone fully charged and loaded with podcasts to entertain me as I spent the day sitting out the fun.  My expectations were low.

What happened was the opposite.  I had SO much fun!  I rode tons of rides, the ones I sat out were short waits because the lines were so short.  I didn’t get (that) sunburned, and yeah I was tired at the end of the day, but after 7 hours at the park, it felt like the good kind of tired.

I also left the park with new friends.  Making new friends has been a huge topic of conversation lately.

“It’s so hard to make friends after college!
Why is it so hard to make new friends?
How do you keep the friends you have as life gets more involved and complicated?”

On the car ride home, I had some time to reflect on my new friends, and how much fun we just had.  As a result, I created some simple steps to making new friends in a post-college world.

Show up
You have to leave the house to meet new people.  There’s just no way around it.  As much as  social media is addictive, it’s no substitute for in person connection and real life friends.  Show up to parties, events and activities that you’re invited to.   Was I the most excited about Great America? No.  Did I end up having a fantastic time? Yes.  I never would have had such fun or made new friends if I had said “You know what guys? I’m pretty sure I know how this is going to go, so I’ma sit this one out.”  I’m so glad I showed up.

Be true to your word
People catch on pretty quickly if you’re that person who always says yes then never shows up.  Generally that person is fun to hang out with, but not a great friend.  If you want to make more friends, be true to your word.  Show up when you say you will, do the things you commit to.  Plus, if you bail all the time, people will just stop inviting you to things.  I know it’s not always cool to be reliable, but in a post-college world, this is a really important step.   This is also where so many people get stuck because in college, and shortly thereafter, everyone is doing everything and it doesn’t matter if you bail or not.  This changes as people get more involved in their own lives and less connected to the group experience, and you might need to change along with it.

Have a positive attitude
People like hanging out with nice, positive people!  We’ve all already got that one cynical friend, you likely don’t need another.  Fun, positive people that make you feel great when you hang out with them? That’s the type of friend everyone wants more of.   Be positive, and be open to having a fun time.  If I had spent the whole day stuck in my pre-determined idea of what my day was going to look like, do you think I would have made any friends? Nope.  They would have been asking the birthday girl “What’s up with your friend?” Not, “When are we hanging out again?!”

Follow Up Within 1 Week
Just like dating, if you like someone, make plans to see them again!  If you have a fun friend time with someone, and would like to be ‘real life’ friends with them, make a real plan to see them within a week.  This solidifies the experience and avoids the ‘oh! We met that one time…..6 months ago….’ when your paths next bump at a party.  It also builds your relationship independent of the friend you met through.  Sure, it can be a little scary to make new friend plans with someone, but it pays off! If you want to make new friends, you gotta actually make friends.   Which then circles back to be true to your word.  Make a new plan with the new friend within a week, and follow through.  If you flake, or reschedule a bunch of times, the friendship will fall apart before it begins.

Then if you keep having fun, make more plans!  You’re totally awesome and I’m sure other people are going to love getting to know you.

Successes? Stories to share? I’d love to hear in the comments section!



Ellen_Ercolini_Headshot_Red I’m Ellen, a business development coach + decision making expert.  You want me on your team.  I am revolutionizing the way coaches and solopreneurs build businesses.   My specialty is helping you understand how all areas of your life and business fit together, to start growing your business fast.  I am currently hosting free power sessions.  You + Me = 3 red hot and actionable things you can start doing to make more money from your business, fast.  Book your free session here.

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6 thoughts on “How To Make Friends After College

  1. Love it! It definitely can be difficult to make friends apart from having a “built-in crew.” And it is so much like dating that it can be super nerve wracking! (Is now too soon to call her again?) Luckily almost everyone else is looking for friends too and if we believe ourselves to be the special people we are, they will too!

    • I know! It’s SO similar to dating and people sometimes miss that connection. Confidence is a big plus in the dating world AND friendship landia. People love to hang out with/make out with confident folks. There! We just solved everyones problems 🙂 xo

  2. Fantastic article and guide to making new friends. What’s funny is how people do really want new friends but may not admit it. I posted this on FB and a couple of people responded to it so I didn’t think much about it. However, I talked with two friends randomly and they both mentioned how awesome this article was. How they needed the reminder to put themselves out there and break out of their comfort zones. I also happened to coach a client around this very topic TODAY! Hmmmm, I wonder how my client got interested in this topic…? The topic is so simple and yet resonated with more people than I thought. Your special spin on it though is what really landed, Ellen. Thank you!

    • LOVE hearing this! It’s so true that loads of people need and want new friends, but there’s a resistance to talking about it. That’s the biggest feedback I’ve gotten from this article – is that this not talked about! We’ll we’re talking, and I’m so glad your friends and clients are too. I’d love to hear how it goes for them! xo

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