Making friends as an adult is hard enough. Trying to make friends during a pandemic feels almost like an impossible task. However, rest assured that it IS possible!
Relocal community members bravely ventured out to meet new buddies in an era of physical distancing and returned with stories of success. The ideas below are collected from our research and experiments. We hope they will help you expand your social horizons while still keeping a safe bubble!
Prepare Yourself with an Attitude for Friendship
Before diving into where you can meet new people, let’s talk about the most important factor to making friends: your attitude.
Start with an open mind and open heart. Show up and give things a go, even if few interactions lead to long-lasting friendships. Let yourself enjoy activities along the way. Appreciate the loose acquaintances you will meet, including those whom you will never see again. Because on a strange pandemic day, you shared a moment with these people. And these brief moments of connection matter.
Where to Make Friends During a Pandemic
1) Professional Events
While you are sheltering at home, it’s a great time to invest in your professional development. If the pandemic hit your employment hard, now is the perfect opportunity to assess where you want to take your career next. Many professional learning opportunities, conferences, and networking events are now accessible online, and in many cases, for free or low cost.
At these events, you will encounter people who share your interests and professional aspirations. You have a natural conversation starter! Did someone’s intro grab your attention? Send them a message and ask for a follow-up virtual coffee date. Inspired by a speaker’s talk? Connect with them on LinkedIn and request an informational interview. Due to COVID-19’s impact on the economy, many people are eager to give back to the community right now by sharing career advice. Tap into this zeitgeist!
2) Facebook Groups
Aside from being a tool to keep track of high school friends and how many kids they now have, Facebook is actually a great place to meet new people. Head over to Groups and you’ll find communities of people who are just as passionate as you about zero waste living, crafting, propagating succulents, or whatever else tickles your soul. Some groups are geographically based, therefore increasing the chance of an online connection extending offline.
With any group situation, it can be helpful to lurk and observe the culture of the group before deciding if it’s for you. When you’re ready, introduce yourself, comment on other people’s posts, and amp up your activity. Another tip for fulfilling engagement is to be helpful! Answer people’s questions, share resources, and spread kindness. We are in a pandemic after all, and a little kindness goes a long way.
- Buy Nothing Groups are places for neighbours to borrow, lend, and share. It’s a hyper local movement so it’s likely you’ll meet real-life friends!
- Not a Facebook user? Meetup can be an alternative to find like-minded people in your area.
The pandemic has been especially tough for non-profits and community organizations serving vulnerable populations. Many are struggling to serve more people with less resources. So why not lend a helping hand by volunteering? Some volunteer opportunities such as mentoring or fundraising can even be done remotely. It’s likely you will meet good-natured people in the process, and good people tend to make good friends.
On a less formal basis, you could also volunteer to help out a neighbour by delivering groceries or tutoring their kids. If you have the skills to help a small business move online, that gesture can have huge ripple effects. Get creative with how you can share your skills, time, and talent!
- If you’re in Canada, Volunteer Canada and Charity Village are places where you can find volunteer opportunities.
- Going back to Facebook Groups, one of the most effective ways to find a local volunteering opportunity is to post to a neighbourhood group.
4) Small Group Workshops
In order to adapt to the times, many small businesses are now offering online services. If you have always wanted to learn watercolour painting, see if a local art studio is teaching through Zoom. If you miss going to the gym, maybe you can join a virtual bootcamp with a local trainer. The more you show up, the more you will get to know your workshop host and fellow attendees. All the while, you are helping entrepreneurial service providers continue to make a living during an economically challenging time.
- Check out #buylocal hashtags (or versions of it) for your local area.
- Relocal community friends Hey Shauna Art Therapy and It Just Flows Calligraphy both have online offerings.
Once you’ve made new connections, be sure to stay in touch and follow up! Friendships grow over time so keep showing up with an open mind and open heart.
Be Friends with Us!
The Relocal Community is a group of people who enjoy learning and creating special moments together. We like to move slowly and curiously, because we believe meaningful connections can’t be rushed. You can follow @relocal.ca on Instagram or subscribe to the Relocal newsletter to get details about our next gathering.
Crystal Lee is a relocation life & career coach, community builder, and metaphor lover. As the founder of Relocal, Crystal currently promotes empowerment and community through delightful, do-it-yourself activities and group workshops. Her latest publication is a self-care activity book called Stay-At-Home Delight.