10 Tips to Starting a Conversation and Making Friends

Moving home, whether to a new place in your home country or abroad, means that you have to build connections from scratch. ‘How to make friends’ can be a troubling subject and sometimes it can be too embarrassing to ask for help.

It may sound like a slightly ridiculous post at first glance, but starting a conversation, trying to make friends and putting yourself out there for rejection can be a pretty scary thing. 

You really want to be happy in your new life and I personally think that happiness is linked to having a strong network of support around you. So if you’re struggling with making friends, or just need a confidence boost, here are a few tips that may help to get things started!

  1. Give someone a compliment
    If you really like someone’s new haircut, what they said in that lecture, or what car they drive – Tell them! Everybody loves a compliment and it’s a great way to start a conversation when you give the other person something to smile about.

  2. Find common ground
    Joining clubs, classes or groups is essential to finding friends with the same interests as you. Join a sports team or sign up for a painting class. You can introduce yourself very easily in these settings by commenting on the instructor or complimenting their efforts – Easy! Not only this, you already have a common interest and you can regularly see them with each class/team meet-up.

  3. Maintain eye contact and smile
    The easiest way to show that you’re shy and uncomfortable is to avoid meeting the person’s eye who you are talking to. Make a conscious effort to smile and meet their gaze whilst they are speaking. Whether or not it’s true, you will give off an illusion of confidence, approach-ability and show that you are really listening to what they are saying.

  4. Don’t judge a book by its cover
    One of the biggest things I’ve learnt about myself recently is that I often make snap judgments about people without even knowing it. Since moving abroad, I have consciously made an effort to ignore my inner-critic and get to know everybody that comes my way. Give everyone a chance and get to know them as a person. You never know, the one you would have shrugged off might be one of your closest friends some day.

  5. Don’t assume you are always right
    Now I’m all for a juicy debate but there is nothing worse than a know-it-all who shuts down any other opinion different to their own. We are all diverse and even if someone’s food-for-thought seems ridiculous to you, ask questions to understand where they’re coming from and respect that not everyone will agree with you.

  6. Ask for an opinion or recommendation
    If you’ve just bought a new dress or you see someone reading an interesting looking book, ask them for their thoughts on it! The other day I noticed a girl who had a water bottle with the ‘BeachBody’ logo (my online workout program) and I went up to her and said ‘How great are the BeachBody work outs?! Which one do you recommend?’- Grab every chance you can to connect.

  7. Ask How, What, Where, Why, Who, When….
    Ie. Don’t just talk about yourself! Avoid an interrogation but make an effort to show interest in the other person and their life by asking authentic questions.

  8. Be pro-active
    Don’t assume people will come to you. This is probably the most challenging tip but put yourself out there! Let someone know you’d love an invite next time they make plans. Ask somebody to be your tour guide of the area. Suggest an amazing movie that you think somebody would like to see with you. Ask your work colleague to check out the new café with you on your lunch break. If they say no, don’t take it personally. Chances are there is a better person to spend time with waiting around the corner. Just don’t give up!

  9. Visualize success
    Stop self-sabotaging right. this. second. That stranger over there doesn’t know that you’re an introvert or nervous about talking to them so avoid labeling yourself. If you start a conversation with kindness and authenticity, if nothing comes of it, big deal? – Move on and try again. If you are positive about who you are and visualize an optimistic outcome, the chances are you will be so much more successful.

  10. Be patient
    Making friends takes time. If you are desperately searching for connections and fretting about loneliness, this will taint your experiences and enhance homesickness. Accept that friends will come organically. Be patient and be yourself. It will happen.

The beauty of friendship is that once you have connected with just ONE person, you can ask to be introduced to their friends and take advantage of the domino effect!

Remember, you won’t necessarily like or bond with every person you meet. Never put pressure on yourself to hang out with people you don’t feel comfortable with just for the sake of it. You’ll be wasting your time and theirs. Realise the value of your time, how awesome you are and before you know it you will have developed genuine friendships and feel that successful network start to build around you.

Share your own tips, recommendations and advice… We should talk about this topic SO much more!

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  • Reply
    April 2, 2018 at 10:02 am

    Love the “give someone a compliment” tip. I don’t think we actively go out of our way enough to express to others kind things!

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      April 2, 2018 at 11:18 am

      I completely agree! Small acts of kindness can make somebody’s day – We should definitely make more of an effort! 🙂

  • Reply
    April 2, 2018 at 10:31 am

    As we get older, it becomes more and more difficult to find new and quality friends. i love your tips, though, and will be using them at the next event I go to!

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      April 2, 2018 at 11:21 am

      SO true. Gone are the days when you can meet new people every day easily at school or university… I’ve realised that it really comes down to our own personal efforts now, so I make sure that I put the work in. Glad you loved the tips!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2018 at 10:40 am

    Great tips, I have always found that after I start the conversation with a question about the other person and their life, it is better to listen for a bit rather than talking about myself. People love to talk about themself, and I learn whether or not we would be a good fit as friends.

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      April 2, 2018 at 11:25 am

      Great advice Lisa, thank you – I definitely agree that asking questions about the other person makes it easier for both parties! Then, as soon as they say something that you can relate to or have experienced as well, the conversation can start flowing.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Being proactive and patient are so hard for me! Patience is where I always find the longest lasting friendships! Such great tips that we all could use a reminder of even when we aren’t necessarily trying to make new friends but just to be good human beings!

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      April 4, 2018 at 10:35 am

      I feel ya, girl! Patience is so difficult especially when you are craving good company right this very second! Long-lasting quality friendships are always the ones that you have slowly developed over time… I’m glad you enjoyed the tips 🙂 I’m definitely a supporter of being good to each other every single day!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Love this post, the past year I have been in a transformation journey and one of them was to leave certain people behind who no longer were aligned with me, so I always question how to go about meeting new genuine friends and this tips are great to know thanks!

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      April 4, 2018 at 10:38 am

      Hi Aimee! Congrats on being strong enough to know you deserve better. Settling for misaligned friendships never ends well for either person involved. I’m sure you will meet new people very soon; genuine people are out there – Just look at this Comments feed!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Confession: I didn’t know how to make friends! Seriously. I grew up with the same group of friends from the time I was in kindergarten to the time I was 18! So when I moved to a new city…I had NO FREAKIN ideas how to make friends. It was hard because I’m naturally a very outgoing and collaborative person. These are some great tips!

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      April 4, 2018 at 10:40 am

      Omg Bree, it’s like you are describing my life! It is SO easy to take your friends for granted as they have always been there automatically, ready and available. Then suddenly you’re in a new place and know absolutely no one – Terrifying! What did you do to put yourself out there? H

  • Reply
    April 2, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    I was just asking someone the other day how to make friends as an adult! It seems so easy but people are so busy with their own lives it feels hard to nudge your way in! Love this post!

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      April 4, 2018 at 10:42 am

      Exactly, Ari, I love it! And it is a topic that NO ONE feels comfortable talking about without feeling like a failure. I’ve realised that every single adult feels the same way but somehow we all think it is only us that struggles with it. Adult friendships are tough to create from scratch! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  • Reply
    Nadalie Bardo
    April 2, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    Recently I have been trying to give out more compliments and positive assurance to my friends and random people I meet. I don’t want to keep my thoughts inside if I like what you’re wearing or something about you, I now try and express that.

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      April 4, 2018 at 10:46 am

      LOVE this Nadalie! I completely agree – I have always complimented both friends and strangers because who doesn’t love it when someone says something nice to them? Small acts of kindness go such a long way, and you’re right, why keep a kind thought silent inside you? P.s. LOVE your page

  • Reply
    Amy Kennedy
    April 3, 2018 at 8:05 am

    Really a great post! I’m so glad I read it! I love the line “Ignore your inner critic”. My brother is getting ready to move across the country in a week (we are both in our 50’s) and he is really nervous about it. These are some great ideas I can pass along. You are an excellent writer.

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      April 4, 2018 at 10:17 am

      Wow thanks a lot for your kind comment, Amy! I hope the tips above help your brother. We always work ourselves into a nervous frenzy but it never is as bad as we imagine. I wish him all the best!

  • Reply
    Angela Hoyos
    April 3, 2018 at 8:49 am

    As I get older, I find it difficult to make connections with people. I don’t know why that is but I guess most people assume they’ve already made the friends they need? Perhaps you have to meet people with similar hobbies or interests? Also, I find people to be skeptical as they age and often question the intentions of someone wanting to form a friendship.

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      April 4, 2018 at 10:23 am

      Hi Angela! I definitely agree. The biggest struggle I’ve found is when I try to immerse myself in an already established friendship group. It can easily make you feel like you’re on the outside as they are already so close. Not the best! It’s definitely a great idea to arrange one-on-one hang-outs with a person to avoid this situation… The whole process is SO much harder as we get older!
      Also, TELL me about it. It drives me crazy when people question why you’re being so friendly or interested in connecting. Why does it have to be seen as ‘weird’ to put yourself out there? I’ve made a huge effort not to take it personally if I meet someone like this and wait instead for that friend who will be more welcoming. I figure they’ll be cooler anyway!

    • Reply
      Enoch mutyaba
      July 18, 2018 at 1:26 am


  • Reply
    September 14, 2019 at 4:00 am

    Wow, Thank you so much! Very helpful information for me

    • Reply
      Kate Johnson
      May 7, 2020 at 11:49 am

      Glad to hear that you found the post helpful, Maria 🙂 All the best!

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