Tell anyone you work from home, and you get a chorus of cheers for all the life flexibility that it must bring. A home office has its perks! But working from home day after day definitely starts to feel different than a lucky summer Friday answering emails on the couch.
You quickly miss the natural connection with coworkers where so many of us ultimately find great friendships. Making friends as an adult can already be a bit tricky, and we often rely on an office for much of that post-school interaction. As increasing numbers of us work virtually (or for ourselves!), there are more people than you might expect hoping to make new friends outside of a workplace.
Relocate Your Office And Enroll the Staff
We all know that one of the best ways to meet new people is to switch up the landscape. It might not be news to start working from your local coffee shop, but approaching it a little differently is the key to making new connections.
The next time you’ve set up shop in your favorite cafe, chat with the barista or manager and get conversational. Make the staff your allies in friend-finding! Tell them what you do and let them know that you’re always interested in meeting new people. Partially outsourcing the friend search is particularly helpful for us introverts who might not always be bold enough to strike up a chat with whomever is sitting next to us!
Try a Co-Working Space
According to the 2018 Global Co-Working Forecast, 1.7 million people will be working from shared spaces by the end of 2018. That is ample opportunity to periodically recreate the morning water cooler chat! Co-working spaces are really coming into their own, with some even taking it a step further and becoming social clubs. For example, The Wing in New York City and Washington, D.C. is a co-working space and community just for women that also hosts events like film screenings and conversations with local politicians.
You don’t have to be in a big city or shell out a lot of cash to benefit from co-working. Local schools often have open public workspaces, and even your library probably has a spot where people can collaborate and meet without the 12 inch whisper.
Attend Industry Events
This is another no-brainer until you stretch your comfort zone a bit and take it outside of your own work industry. I know plenty of finance folks, so I’m not trolling the American Banker’s Association to meet new friends. Instead, I try to find out where culinary professionals are gathering and learning about their craft. Dessert and talented artists? Count me in.
Also, if you’re not a one-woman shop, you’re bound to have virtual colleagues in the same position as you are scattered around the country (and maybe the world!). Check through your company’s employee association and see if there are virtual meet-up groups, annual events, or employee chat forums that give you an opportunity to get to know colleagues outside of a work email. (Not a thing? “I founded our company’s virtual employee meet-up network” sounds like the perfect talking point in your next interview.)
Make an Effort on Social Media
Ironically, social media can feel little isolating at its worst, but at it’s best, it’s a powerful way to bring people together. Effort is different than issuing a “like.” If your usual go-to is casually scrolling and double-tapping your way through your favorite platform, carve out a few minutes to actually reach out to people a little more authentically. Share an article you think they’ll enjoy, or, if you’ve been trading Twitter headlines for years, invite them to a book signing you’d both appreciate.
Apps are also trying to help us make new friends from our living room. Friender, Hey! Vina, and Bumble BFF are just a few that offer you a way to quickly peek into the interests of thousands of women (and a few, men too!) for purely platonic relationships.
Leverage Your Hobbies
Whatever lights your fire after you close the laptop is the perfect gateway to a new friendship. Now, figure out how to do it in a group. Do you have a green thumb? Maybe your local soup kitchen has a rooftop garden that is always looking for a few spare hands.
If you’re hustling toward a fitness goal, there’s undoubtedly a community out there sweating along with you. No-gym-required communities such as Tone it Up and Lauren Gleisberg followers can seek out hashtags and almost always find a local meet-up of like-minded ladies.
Accept Blind Dates
With slightly lower stakes than the actual dating game, ask your existing friends to intro you around! Most of us have several friend groups we run in (school friends, work colleagues, or maybe a partners’ friends) which creates great opportunities for some cross-introductions!
Try telling an existing friend that you’re “looking to expand your social circle” and ask them who they think you should grab coffee with. Planting the seed that you’re someone who likes to connect will keep you top of mind to be included as your friends add new relationships of their own.