Making the move to London is not only about changing your physical location, but also about setting up a whole new life. Whether you know anyone before you arrive or not, getting out and making new friends can sometimes be a challenge.
And it’s a strange old world that we live in where bizarrely it seems to be that the larger a city, the less easy it is to strike up friendships. But never fear, because there are many ways to make connections and new friendships – made all the more easier thanks to the Internet.
So let’s take a (serious, yet lighthearted) look at how to go about making those much needed friendships in your new home city.
Join a club, group or team
One of the easiest ways to meet people with likeminded interests is to sign up to a group or social club. If you’re sporty, then seek out your game, sign up and get playing.
Find clubs at Totally Sporty or Get Active, where you can search by sport and postcode for any type of sport or activity club you can think of. From canoeing to running, boxing to ballroom dancing – you’ll find a club to suit.
Of course, you might not be looking for somewhere to get hot and sweaty. Perhaps you want something different, like a quiz night, visiting an art gallery or flower arranging.
The website, Meet Up is a particularly good website, specifically designed for people just like you who want to make new friends. It’s used by a wide range of people; busy execs who simply don’t have the time to meet people, students, expats who’ve just arrived… In fact, anyone who’s looking to broaden their social circle.
City Socializer is another site that allows you to find groups of people getting together in your area to enjoy fun (and often silly – but silly is good!) events.
You get to ‘converse’ with other attendees before the event, as well as sending and receiving invites. It’s also possible to checkout who else is going to be at an event before you arrive.
If you’re nervous about how to start up conversations with strangers, sussing out their likes and dislikes, having some talking points in mind makes life for the shy person that much easier.
If you’re at college, university or working, then be sure to check out the social board for notices of clubs you might like to join. We sometimes forget the ‘old fashioned’ way of doing things now we all rush to Google to find out what we need.
But they still work exceedingly well, and shouldn’t be dismissed as ways to find new friends.
Learn something new
Signing up for evening classes gives you the added benefit of learning a new skill as well as making friends.
If you’ve always wanted to learn another language, master the skill of plastering, become a bricklayer or improve your motor mechanic abilities, then now’s your chance.
Hot Courses allows you to search for any type of class imaginable, as well as defining by location. And if English isn’t your first language, then an English course will improve your skills and introduce you to new people at the same time.
Accept all invitations…
…Yes, even that after work, ‘try dancing’, taster session that you normally wouldn’t be seen dead at. The thing is, invites to all social events are highly likely to lead to friendships in the making. And every time you refuse an invite, it means you’re less likely to be asked next time.
Volunteering is a fabulous way to meet other people, as well as giving something back to your new community.
There are plenty of organisations with which you can volunteer. If you love animals, then the RSPCA always need helpers, as do various rescue homes such as Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, to carry out such tasks as dog walking and to clean out the animals living accommodation.
Other organisations include Age UK, where you can get involved in visiting older people who might not be able to get out and about.
Not only do you get to help them with various chores, such as grocery shopping and cleaning, but you become a vital part of their life, providing companionship and the chance for some conversation. And you’re pretty likely to make a great new friend as well.
Charity shops are also a good place to volunteer. You can give as much or as little time as you like, from just a couple of hours per week. Oxfam, Scope, Cancer Research and The British Heart Foundation are just a few charities that run shops on the high street.
Be brave. Or if you can’t, blag it!
Do you ever watch longingly as some people seem to easily slip into conversation with virtually anyone? Or are you one of those lucky people who can walk into a room full of strangers and start chatting away?
For those who belong to the former group, never fear. Because if there’s one thing that you’ll learn in your quest to make friends in London, it’s that the more you put yourself out there – the easier it becomes.
One vital thing to learn is the power of the compliment. Everyone – yes, everyone, likes receiving them. And this is the easiest way to strike up a conversation in any situation. You might be in the canteen queue, or waiting for a bus. Or perhaps you’ve just walked into your very first evening class where everyone else seems to know each other.
Whatever the situation, paying someone a (small) compliment as a way of breaking the ice is a great start. Something as simple as, “I love your bag. Where did you get it?”
And don’t forget to smile. This is the easiest conversation starter of all, and one you can use in any situation. After all, the worst that can happen is that it’s not returned. And the best? A smile back, a conversation ensues and you never know, it just might be the start of a wonderful friendship…