Say hello to a stranger on the street. If they look interesting and willing to chat walk with them up the block. Tucker met Andrea in Vermont many years ago this way and we had such a great time with her.
Make friends with a friend of a friend. You see someone at a friend’s party and then the next one and so on. At some point, have dinner with the friend of the friend and see what happens.
Write an email to someone you admire or know about but haven’t met. Or friend them on facebook. I’ve done this only a few times but I’m always happy I do. We met up with Charlotte and Eric on Rebelheart this way and Nicole and Brian on Soul Rebel the same way. We were driving through their areas and stopped to visit and had great experiences! I’d been reading Laureen’s blogs for years (I knew her name from a few parenting lists I was on too). It felt a little shy writing to her to let her know that I sort of knew her and that I was her neighbor but it was so worth it!
Bring them along to do something you love. Sail, museum, lunch, whatever. Show them what is so exciting about what you love. Sailing is perfect. Unless your boat breaks, and they tend to, you get a few hours to chat in the sun and have a good time. (Sorry Deneb for the time you got to join us while we fixed our head. We’ll bring you out on Convivia asap… as soon as we get her fixed.)
Try something new. We met Katherine in a swing dancing class year ago. Tucker and I took a dance class and made a friend….that’s all, the dancing didn’t stick.
Volunteer doing something you think is important. You’ll have something in common. Many of my good friends are from my La Leche League days. Abigail, Anabel, Jennifer, Elizabeth, Kristi, Charity, and many more of my friends and their partners and children came from LLL. La Leche League is a group of mothers supporting breastfeeding mothers. We met twice a month or more for years as our babies grew into children. These people turned into friends that will long outlast our early parenting experiences.
Don’t be afraid to befriend someone younger or older than you. Tucker became friends with Allen on business trips when he was 19 and travelling the country working for a software company. Allen and his wife Lee still live in Vermont and we see them every chance we can. They have kids our age (and older and younger).
Birth your baby in a horse trough in your living room. Invite your friend to watch. Okay, maybe that’s too specific, and doesn’t happen all that often. But dare to invite a friend to join you for something extremely important.
Live somewhere super friendly where you have to walk a lot. You’ll bump into the same people on the street or the dock and be able to strike up a conversation. Smile at them often or ask them something about their boat (or their garden, or their bike, or whatever seems interesting). Admire their anchor or britework or effort.
Use your kids. Children are excellent ice breakers. These boat kids on s/v Rubicon were able to help their parents in a very important way. Love this story!
Be spontaneous. Sneak them over for coffee or margaritas when the kids are sleeping and chat for an hour or so. We developed a wonderful friendship with Carl and Cristina entirely over spontaneous invitations to coffee, drinks, barbecues, and anchor-outs.
Invite someone over for coffee on Sunday. Invite them every Sunday for a year. This is a big one. Tucker and I love coffee and maybe someday we’ll open a coffee shop somewhere but we decided that we loved the social aspect and getting to know the same people that came around, regulars. We figured out that we could sort of do the same thing for a lot less money by throwing a coffee social and inviting the world. For the cost of a pound of beans, a gallon of milk, and a batch of muffins every week we had friends to serve coffee to and to get to know better. It was a fantastic success (except the neighbors didn’t exactly like us).
All of these things require putting yourself out there and a little bit of risk. Six years ago someone who was very very shy braved talking to me, a stranger in a store. Not only did she talk to me but she invited me over (and then called her sister in law to make sure she wasn’t crazy). Because she dared, and because of the kids, and spontaneous visits, and LLL, and hundreds of dinners together, and coffee on Sunday she became my most precious friend! So, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone and make a new friend or an old friend closer.