Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.
Positive relationships form the foundation of a happy, rewarding life.
If your time and energy is misspent on the wrong relationships, or on too many activities that force you to neglect your good relationships, you can end up in a tedious cycle of fleeting friendships, superficial romances that are as thrilling as they are meaningless, and a general sense of wondering why you always seem to be running in place, chasing affection.
How do you build healthy, lasting relationships? How do you find friends that lift you higher? How do you meet a significant other that belongs at your family reunions?
How do you meet the right people?
1. Learn to enjoy your own company.
Ironically, the prerequisite to building healthy relationships is being comfortable when you’re all by yourself. If you’re starting fresh, with a minimal number of friends in your immediate vicinity, the reason for this is obvious: spending time alone is your only option. Likewise, if you have friends that have been dragging you down and negatively impacting your life, withdrawing from them and starting anew will likely require a bit more alone time.
Appreciating solitude starts with the conscious awareness of the freedom it brings. When you enjoy your own company you don’t need others around for the sake of having others around. You can be flexible about who you choose to spend time with, instead of letting your fear of being alone suck you into social situations and relationships that aren’t right for you.
It’s also important to note that being desperate for the company of others will hinder your ability to authentically interact and communicate. You’ll be more worried about achieving external validation instead of just letting your truth flow and being open to establishing honest human connections.
Try to spend some time alone every day on a solo project that interests you – reading, writing, painting, coding, etc. The goals is to get to the point where you are just as happy staying in as going out, as long as you keep a healthy balance between the two. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
2. Get in touch.
A big part of meeting the right people is reacquainting yourself with the good people you already know. It’s all about initiating friendly interactions, instead of waiting for others to make the first move. I bet you can think of several people that you have been terrible at keeping in touch with. These might be extended family members, old college friends, previous coworkers who you enjoyed spending time with, or even current friends whom you rarely talk to.
Dig back into your past and make a list of people you wish you had stayed in better touch with. Then contact them. An email or text message might work best to break the ice if you’re contacting someone you haven’t talked to in a while. If you have lost a person’s contact information, Google them, or look them up on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. Or perhaps you have a mutual friend or acquaintance who can put you in touch.
This practice might sound overly simple, or even a bit silly, but taking the initiative and reaching out to relationships is almost always appreciated. The return on investment for the short amount of time it takes you to send some emails and texts, and hopefully make a few phone calls and lunch dates, is huge: HEALTHIER RELATIONSHIPS. You’ll be left asking yourself: “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
3. Be generous and help others.
You have two hands, one to help yourself and the second to help those around you.
It’s one thing to take the initiative with people you already know, but what about all the people around you whom you barely know?
Be friendly and introduce yourself to someone nearby. When you’re connecting with someone new always start with generosity. Focus on how you can help the other person. Do you have information that could benefit them? Do you have a skill that could assist them through their current situation? Do you know someone who they should meet?
One of the best investments you can make in yourself is to take a genuine interest in other people. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you. Love and kindness begets love and kindness. And so on and so forth… (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the Relationships chapter of 1000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
4. Join an active community of likeminded people.
The best places to plant new seeds of friendship are at local, organized meet-ups on a particular topic that interests you. A meet-up might be a professional association, a community focus group, a fitness class, a weekly group meditation hour, or any other gathering of people who share a common passion.
The easiest way to find a community to join is to make a list of your core passions and keywords that represent them. Think about everything you enjoy and every issue that has meaning to you. For example:
- personal development
- software development
- graphic design
- acoustic guitar
Just let loose, open your mind and do a brain dump onto a piece of paper. When you’re finished, head to Meetup.com, type in your keywords and see what you can find. Alternatively, add the name of your city to your keywords and use them as a Google search query (for example: “cooking class Austin”). This will help you find local meet-ups, social groups, bloggers, businesses, and events related to these topics.
What if you can’t find a meet-up group that fits your needs? Start one. Of course, the disadvantage of being a founder and organizer is that it takes a little more time and energy. The upside, however, is everything else.
Finding the right group of people that share your passions and interests may require some dedicated research, but it’s worth it. A shared passion is the most effective component in building positive, lasting relationships. (Read Never Eat Alone.)
5. Reach out to leaders and mentors.
About six months ago, Angel and I were in the process of mind mapping ideas for launching our book, 1,000 Little Things, and researching ways to take our blog to the next level. We started reading and watching material from Derek Halpern, Ramit Sethi, and Lewis Howes, three down-to-earth guys that are masters in the ‘blogging as a business’ space. We took inspiration from each of them and gradually implemented their ideas for our book launch.
Then I thought: “Why not email them?” So I did.
And they all replied.
Next thing you know, we’re exchanging emails and tweets, and then when Angel and I were visiting New York City last month (where they all live), we got in touch and we all got together for a fun Sunday brunch.
The lesson here is: don’t limit yourself. Take a look at the blogs you have bookmarked, the email lists you subscribe to, or even your bookshelf, for example, and ask yourself: Which of these bloggers, authors, and entrepreneurs might I like to get to know? And then reach out to them.
Bloggers, authors and Internet entrepreneurs in particular seem to be more easily accessible by email and social media than other public figures. Obviously, you may never meet or even get a personal response from some of the people you contact this way, but it’s still fun to make an attempt, and you never know what will happen. You just might make a solid connection with someone that inspires you.
Nowadays Angel and I make it a point to email at least one person every month whom we would love to know more about, and whom we might normally consider out of reach. More than half of these people have replied back to us.
If you feel like you could use some help in the social arena, why not make today the day you choose to break out of your shell and reach out to the wonderful people around you?
The floor is yours…
What would you add to the list? In your opinion, what is the #1 ingredient to building the right relationships? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Photo by: Antoine G
I totally agree with the points in this post.
My two cents: Meeting the right people is all about being comfortable in your own skin and finding others who are OK with that. Likely you will find these people in places that intersect with your work or active passions.
I think number 4 is the most effective strategy here. Most people rely on work to find new friends, but work does not guarantee similar passions or personalities. Hobbies however will provide at least a common conversation topic to initiate interactions with.
Good post – isn’t it funny how as children we are never taught how to make friends, it’s just assumed we will know how?
Great point in number 5.
Thanks for your advice. You are the right kind of people for inspiring me. Your advice has spiked my interest to start a blog ASAP. A few months ago, I was looking for the opportunity on the net that would not only bring me money but also help me to improve my life skills. I don’t know where I want to go with it or what topic I want to cover, but I will really search for it more.
Nisha Chandra says
Nice Article. Specially the point about helping others. I often try helping people within my abilities. Like blood donation, feeding the deprived etc. It really feels good. I have read a story recently (linked above) which tells about making little contribution in spreading happiness.
By helping others we not only connect with them but also the peace of our own heart.
Ernie Barde says
Very insightful…Thanks for this great article.
Hope & Sugar says
Lovely post. I think meeting the right people is very important for ones happiness and success. A person is a summation of the people closest to him/her. All the above tips are immensely useful. I think where there is a will, there is a way.
Fantastic post! I like that you took the risk of contacting people you think are “out of reach”.
I refuse to have anyone in my life that doesn’t add value to it.
Inspiring Citizen Rafi says
Yet another inspiring post. I loved it so much..
A view point from my end: It’s good to help people. However when you always become a rescuer people tend to be dependent on you. At times it is better to let people find out the problems for their solutions rather than poking your nose into it always.
I love reading this and am inspired by it. I will add that when you meet someone, make sure you are a good listener! It’s good to share and teach, but even better to listen and learn!
I’m not sure there is much to add b/c you NAILED this post! The only thing I would add (which goes w/ #3) is to give more than you get and never expect anything in return! It’s the greatest rule to live by!
Elaine, UK says
I’ve been discovering the truth behind these points myself over recent months, and certainly subscribing to number 4 (Meet-up.com is great!) In relation to number 3, I’d add a suggestion to take up some voluntary work on whatever basis your availability allows. It widens your social circle (mixing with those who run whatever organisation you join in with and of course the people it supports), it gives real opportunities to help others, and can give lots of practice in interacting with others. Even if new friends or indeed a new ‘significant other’ aren’t found directly that way, you’ll be far better skilled to make something of those meetings when they do crop up!
Coming at a perfect time as usual =)
I’m looking forwards to starting work on the “enjoying my own company” point before I seek others’ company.
Thanks guys. You’re the best!
Love the article! #1 is hard to do if your energy feeds off being around people, but when it’s done it’s a good feeling.
I have a note to myself to “Keep Connecting” on my desk. These are all great reminders on a basic level of how to do it in a meaningful and positive way. Thank you! Every day is a new opportunity…
Number 3 fails for me.
I am a university student. This year I was kind, generous and went out of my way to help my fellow students. As a result I feel bitter and used. Why? Not one of them ever gave me any help back. Yes, I know we are suppose to give without expecting anything in return. However, not only did they never give me anything back, they seem to have turned against me now. I have no idea why? As a result my grades and self esteem suffered. So being generous has just made me feel upset, bitter and used. Therefore, next year I will help no one and stay in my shell – its the only way I can stop myself from being hurt again 🙁
I would add that you have to get to know people first before you begin asking for favors, telling them your life’s story (not sure you want to do this anyway), proposing collaborations, etc.
Spend time with people and gather enough information as possible. If you believe there’s a connection or potential connection, ask “How may I help?” before you ask, “How can you help me?”
Have a great weekend!
Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads, uncles, grandfathers, and guardians.
I’ve been reading your blog for quite sometime. Everytime I see a post, I grab my coffee, I get comfortable on the couch, I open my heart & mind and I read your words. It really is like Christmas morning everytime I read a post from you. You make a difference in my life and countless others. So thank you from all my heart this morning. And this post grabbed my heart and is holding on tight! I loved it and it truly spoke to me. Keep doing what your doing! Much love & blessing, Sarah
Your blog is forcing me to confront deep issues about how I conduct my life. As I read it, I am forcing me to write out the cogent points and address them. Thank you.
Maybe it is not force. Maybe it is offering a hand. Maybe.
Wonderful thoughts that we all might forget and take for granted at one time or another.
Lorrie Jones says
Great post! I feel more expansive just reading your words and plan to ‘go beyond my (self created) barriers’ and reach out to others I admire. I love your posts – I always learn, sometimes re-learn and I am grateful that you both are providing these great reads. Thank you for your work in the world.
Say YES! Say yes to invitations, say yes to new ideas, say yes to “can I or should I?” As you try new things and figure out who the “right” people are for you, saying yes will also help you figure out when to say NO.
Gale Anson says
I enjoy all of your posts. Most of your ideas are not new but long proven and true. They are wonderful reminders and great motivators. My issue is I do enjoy my own company and value it above all. I am content to be on my own and resent introtions from others. I have concerns about that. If “forcing” myself to meet others is important I my just have a problem.
I would say real Love.
So, that incorporates tons of other stuff…
Because, real Love is powerful.
David Rapp says
I have a couple of suggestions:
To Tina, burned by your college friends. Did you ask them for their help, or assume it would just happen? Keep asking.
Whenever you reach out, be persistent. My wife and I met 5 times before something clicked.
People urge we are more connected than ever, its a bold faced lie. We let technology govern our communication. We expect instantaneous results. How many times have you said you would call someone back and never did? Get a card in the mail but never called or acknowledged that you received it? How many times has something slipped by you, and you claimed “that is not on your calendar?” Who is in charge: you or the calendar, you or Twitter, you or Facebook, you or Email?
If you want Healthier Relationships, face to face always wins. Phone is second, but prepared to leave multiple messages. On-line is fine, if you enjoy 4 sentences or less. Email is abused, but necessary. Texting is dead last, its only for tactical and practical purposes. Which one do you spend the most time doing?
Asking yourself the right questions is so powerful, like your “Why not…” in point 5. For me, a great hesitation buster is James Allen’s 4 questions for true success: “Why? Why not? Why not me? and Why not now?” Excuses to not reach out or initiate contact just melt away…
Shelly Miller says
Perfect tips! Number 1 was hardest for me. I was forced to learn to enjoy my own company when my husband got a job that required travel 5 days a week.
It was one of the best lessons I have ever learned and very valuable. I feel completely comfortable being alone now and can say I enjoy it 🙂
Thanks for the post!
Hey Marc, nice post 🙂 The theme I love throughout your post is about how important it is to be proactive. Realizing that life doesn’t happen to you, you happen to life… it’s a game changer, particularly in relationships. Thank you for this reminder.
Looking back over my career particularly, it’s amazing to see how being proactive within relationships created magical win win outcomes for those involved. Over the years what I’ve gained a lot of fulfillment from in my relationships on a professional level is this genuine feeling of contribution – to know that what I’ve created in the world through my relationships (and within my relationships) came about because of taking the initiative to reach out to others.
Creating, connecting and collaborating!
Looking forward to reading more of the posts by yourself and Angel.
Brilliant. I especially agree that you need to know yourself before you can meet the “right” (for you) people. How do you know, otherwise, who really is right for you?
Sometimes I feel as though you a reading my mind Marc and Angel. I’ve been feeling as though I need to reach out and do something about my social situation.
Christy King says
Very helpful advice. I have definitely found it easiest to make new friends as an adult by hanging out in groups with similar hobbies.
Great observations to put into practice and to practice regularly. 🙂
I was inspired to reach out and leave a response.
I’m on my way!
It seems like one of many but I have to say how great your emails and articles are. Thanks for being so inspiring!!
IQs are within 5 points of each others.
I think the best way to make new friends is to join a charity event helping other people. Always start with a kind smile and just be yourself. And most of all be happy with the company of your own company. When people notice your independence and happiness it shines, people always want to hang around others that are happy with themselves.
You are right. If we meet like-minded people who care, life is easier. As no man is an island, you need people who are not selfish & who have the same temperament, to tolerate you for who you are.
Great article… Thank you.
Join a group, yes or form one, of people that you share a passion or interest with.
Britt Reints says
I have a book coming out later this summer and because I believe in the book even more than I believe in myself, I’ve finally been reaching out to people I admire – and I’ve been AMAZED at how receptive and generous they’ve been.
[email protected] says
Identifying common interests seems like a great way to begin. On the other hand, I have a couple friends who have totally different interests, and this forces me to befriend them solely on account of their characters, which I greatly admire.
Kathryn Vowell says
Newly widowed, this piece is so very valuable for me. I am a people person. Being alone or isolating is deadly for me.
Thank you for these inspiring steps to take.
I just wrote about something similar, as I move back to the United States and hope to be more intentional about the friendships I cultivate this time back. The one thing I think I need to be most mindful of is to be OPEN minded. Just because a first impression doesn’t sit well, doesn’t mean the opportunity for a relationship isn’t possible.
Thanks for a great post!
Mike Martel says
Nice things to take action on. I think you touched on another aspect in almost all of your suggestions, but never really said it. Be the person you want to meet. I am hoping you want happy, upbeat people in your life. Make sure you are projecting that same attitude to others. Without getting too metaphysical, what you send out, comes back to you.
Mary Beth says
What a splendid post! Listening is very important, and challenging at times, to me. To listen to someone – friend or acquaintance – can become an art of seeing who they really are and where they are in life.
Thank you for sharing all that you do!
Make it a point to meet your ideal self. Know clearly what would define that best self, and regularly check your behaviors and attitudes against that person who is admirable and pleasant in your own opinion.
Marc Chernoff says
Once again, thank you so much everyone!
Angel and I feel honored to sit down three evenings a week and read your comments.
In this particular post, your tips, thoughts and stories are exceptional and insightful. As she often does, Angel jotted a few of your ideas down for future reference – when it makes sense, we love to put your suggestions to action in our lives.
Cheers to building stronger relationships this week! 😉
Patrick Lynch says
This is genius! It is the roadmap that every successful person that I know has followed. I wish everybody would read the steps and follow them. In fact, I am writing an article paraphrasing the article, and referring my readers to the original blog. Pure genius!
While I don’t think there are any other tips I can add, I do want to comment to Tina, who feels used by fellow students after helping with no payback. I believe the bottom line in helping others is actually for oneself. I have been reflecting on all of the networking help I have always given to people, long before social networks and sites like Linked In. I always spoke to anyone asking about the LARGE company I worked for (Levi Strauss & Co), passed along resumes, gave fellow workers news about the countries we manufactured in if I had just been there or was aware of something – you name it, I was generous with the help. Now, looking for employment myself I am amazed at the number of people who will not network, help, or even meet for coffee with me. I keep telling myself that the karmic skies will open up to sunshine for me, and that is the bottom line. I was giving to others, felt really special about myself for the generosity, have met some terrific people by these actions, and stayed in touch with them over years. There will come a day that this will come back to me, so conversely, those who don’t help will face a day when they regret not being more giving – and that will be the hardest, but most useful lesson they can get. So, Tina, keep being yourself, doing what is good for your soul.
My answer to the above question would have to be the ability to communicate…that means one person being able to talk freely about what they are feeling, & the other person, not interrupting, but listening wholeheartedly, with BOTH ears.
Sandy Peckinpah says
Number 1: Learn to enjoy your own company…That thought frightened me for years as my children approached the age of “leaving the nest.” I have never lived alone! I went from high school to college having roommates, and then got married and had children! My husband died an untimely death, so I was the sole support of my children. I started on the path of searching for the real me. Not the Mom, or the real estate agent, but me…all by myself. The day my last child left for college, I threw myself a party, alone. I planned a fabulous meal with a glass of red wine, a luxurious bath, and a night in bed reading (something I didn’t always get to do with children in the house). I learned that I’m a pretty good companion! I recently remarried, and I still enjoy time alone because my husband lives and works in a different state, so our time together is limited. But boy…do we make it count!
Teresa Green says
Great article. I’m emailing it to my husband so we can start connecting to people!