Tips for attracting new friends this fall and making lasting connections

Illustration of students in front of Sather Tower
Emily Bi/File

Related Posts

With the first week of classes quickly approaching, it’s normal to feel anxious and jittery, especially with the return of in-person instruction after more than a year of remote learning. At the beginning of any new school year, many students share the worry of making new friends. To some extent, we all fear loneliness or being disliked. College is hard enough as it is, but it’s usually the people you meet along the way who make it bearable.

There’s already a ton of different advice out there regarding how to meet new people — such as through dorms, clubs, volunteering and classes. But just because you physically interact with another person doesn’t guarantee they’ll want to be your friend. Although some people won’t end up being a “friend match,” you want to increase your chances of finding people who will become your friend by projecting an open and likable personality. Here are the Clog’s tips for attracting more people toward you so you can make new friends and watch as your connections blossom this year.

Smile

You’ve probably heard this a million times before, but let me say it again — smile whenever you’re in a space with many new people! Smiling is one of the easiest ways to project warmth and openness. Think about it: Would you be more likely to initiate a conversation with someone who looks bored or irritated, or with someone who looks cheerful and happy? Most people would answer the latter because a big, authentic smile makes people feel welcomed and comfortable enough to open up and talk. According to Psychology Today, when you smile at another person, “you are creating a symbiotic relationship that allows both of you to release feel-good chemicals in your brain, activate reward centers, make you both more attractive, and increase the chances of you both living longer, healthier lives.” So if you want to attract new potential friends and leave a good impression, don’t be afraid to show those pearly whites and harness the magical power of your smile.

Ask for the other person’s name and remember it

It’s not rocket science: People like others who make them feel special. One of the easiest ways to make someone feel special and important is by first asking them for their name, and then remembering to use their name in conversation. When someone tells you their name, they’re allowing you into their world. You gain a clearer picture of them as an individual, and they’re no longer an anonymous shadow. If you’re able to remember a name and weave it into your conversation, or use it the next time you see someone, it shows that they’re special and important enough for you to remember and take note of them. 

Express interest in the other person

Another way to make someone feel special is through expressing genuine interest in what they have to say. We as humans love to talk about ourselves. You can capitalize on this basic aspect of human nature by flipping it around when you want to befriend someone. Rather than centering the conversation around yourself, turn the spotlight onto them. Be curious! Transform into Sherlock Holmes, and ask them questions about themselves. You can start off simple with basic questions such as where they are from, what year they are entering or what their major is. Use their answers as stepping stones to dig deeper, and ask more profound questions to get a more complete picture of who they are as a person. 

Be a good listener

You can ask as many questions as you want, but if you aren’t truly listening to the other person’s answers, they’ll be turned off by you. To make others feel comfortable and heard, you should always remember to maintain eye contact, ask clarifying questions, give nonverbal feedback (such as head nodding), avoid interrupting their flow and have empathy. For example, if someone is telling you a funny story, mimic the same facial expressions of laughter and joy. If someone tells you something that you can personally relate and connect with, don’t hesitate to chime in and express that you also feel the same way.

Make sincere compliments

When you compliment someone, you make them feel good about themselves. They, in turn, will be more likely to befriend you because you make them feel valued. Looking for the good in other people will also help you transform into a more positive person, which further enhances your attractiveness. When you pay someone a compliment, make sure it’s something you truly feel and believe, as people can smell insincere compliments from a mile away. When you first meet someone, it’s OK to start off by complimenting their appearance, such as by remarking, “You have such a beautiful smile,” or, “I love how you did your hair! It frames your face beautifully!” As you get to know them better, you can transition into complimenting deeper aspects of their being, such as, “Your enthusiasm and passion for (insert subject) is so palpable and inspiring.”

With these simple tips in mind, there’s no doubt that people will gravitate toward you like bees to honey. Don’t sweat it — you’ll find your group of friends in no time. As always, we at the Clog wish you the best of luck in making friends this fall!

Contact Madeleine Lorie at [email protected].