Here’s how to find friends who are more like you – people with similar interests and mindsets that you can connect with.
I grew up in a small town, as an introvert, which made it hard for me to find like-minded. In this guide, I show what methods actually work to find people like you and turn them into friends. (I’ve tried all these methods myself.)
This guide works no matter your current social situation or the size of the city you live in. Here’s how to find like-minded people:
1. Get to know people around you on a deeper level
I’ve learned that you can meet like-minded friends in the most unexpected places. But I missed out on many chances because I didn’t make an effort to get to know people. My problem was that I wrote them off too quickly.
For example, there was one guy in my high-school that I never talked to. We saw each other every day for 3 years. When we finally started talking and figured out that we liked each other, we became best friends. My problem was that I, first of all, didn’t like small talk, and if I tried making it, I wasn’t able to transition into more interesting conversation. (And when you only make small talk, everyone sounds shallow).
I made it a habit to talk to people. I then learned to transition from making small talk to finding out if we had mutual interests or commonalities.
To get past the small talk, check out our guide on how to make interesting conversation.
2. Go to meetup groups related to your interests
Going to meetups is a tip that I hear over and over, but it’s not as easy as people say.
The problem is that if you go to a Meetup event, (Meetup.com or Eventbrite.com, for example) you’re most likely to meet a bunch of people one time. Plus, you have to mingle witch is usually super stiff. It’s awkward to start keeping in touch after one interaction unless you REALLY hit it off. To have the chance to get to know people, you need to meet them on a regular basis (at least weekly, in my experience).
There are recurring events on Meetup. Focus on those. There, you have the chance to meet people again and again, and you have a good shot at getting to know them.
3. Skip loud bars, big parties, and clubs
To get to know someone, you need to meet up several times and have many in-depth conversations, as I talked about in the previous step.
At loud bars, big parties, and clubs, most people aren’t in the mood for deep conversations. It doesn’t mean that they are shallow. Just that they’re not in that mood at that point.
The exception is smaller house-parties. They are usually not as loud, and it’s easier to get to know someone over a beer on the couch. If you get invited to a small party by a friend you have things in common with, it’s likely that you’ll meet other like-minded people there.
4. Seek out groups for specific interests
Going to general places, like “new in town-groups” you’ll probably have a lower success rate than specific interest-groups. You might still find like-minded people there, but you’re MORE likely to find like-minded people in groups for specific interests.
Look for people who are interested in the same things you are. These people are also more likely to be like you personality-wise.
Here’s how to meet people with similar interests:
- Always look for ways to meet people recurringly
- Go to Meetup.com and see what interests you
- Join local interest-based groups on Facebook
- Start your own group and advertise it on Meetup
- Join extracurricular activities
- Join physical meetups
- Use your mutual interests to start a conversation
5. Search for social events and communities
When I was younger, I went to a large week-long computer festival every year. There were many other like-minded there. I know today that I could have made lots of friends there if I’d had the social skills needed back then. This ties back to the point I made at the start of this guide:
To find like-minded, the key is to learn how to make small talk and then transition to personal conversation. I linked to two guides about that in step 1 of this guide.
My friend, on the other hand, was more socially skilled at that time. He met many new friends at that computer festival and whenever he went. Why? Because he knew how to small talk and transition that into personal conversation.
Find social events and communities (related to your interests) where people do things together.
Here’s a list for your inspiration:
- Collecting stuff
- Computer programming
- Making movies
- Martial Arts
- Model aircraft/railroads etc
- Mountain biking
- Playing instruments
- RC racing
- Social issues
6. Seek out those you might have things in common with
If you already meet people regularly, like at work or school, the easiest path is to get to know them better. It might turn out you have things in common with them.
Earlier, I told you about the guy at my high-school that I’d seen every day for 3 years before we actually started talking and turned into best friends.
Make a conscious effort to talk more to people you meet on a regular basis, and figure out if you have things in common using the methods in step 1. Once you’ve found someone you have a lot in common with, check out our mega guide on how to make friends.
7. Remind yourself that small talk is in fact important
I mentioned this shortly in step 1 but decided to make this into a step of its own as it’s so important.
I always disliked small talk because it seemed to have no purpose. Only shallow people seemed to make small talk. In reality, we need to make small talk to “warm-up” before we can start making interesting conversation.
It’s not really about the words we use or what we talk about. It’s about signaling that we’re friendly and open to conversation. When you say “How was your weekend?”, what you’re really saying is “I’m friendly and up for talking with you”.
On the other hand, if you make it a habit to talk to new people only when you have to (as I did, the first half of my life) you make people think “This person doesn’t seem to like me because they never talk to me”.
Now that I understood that small talk is the bridge to getting to know people and figure out of they’re like-minded, I enjoy small talk so much more.
Here’s my guide on how to start a conversation.
8. Join an online community related to your interest
When I was younger, I was interested in exercise and weightlifting so I spent a lot of time on a weight training forum. I made several online friends there, and some, I met in real life. That was 15 years ago, and today, online forums are several times more powerful with larger, more niche communities and more opportunities.
Reddit is powerful as it has uncountable sub-reddits for very specific interests. Then there are countless forums. On top of that, you have all the Facebook communities. Search for anything related to your interests, and be active in that community by posting and commenting.
After a few weeks, people start recognizing your name. Just like seeing someone’s face again and again in real life, they feel like they know you when they see your nickname over and over. That’s how you become part of the community, and you don’t need awkward IRL-small talks.
The upside to this method is that you can make friends even if you feel uncomfortable meeting strangers at live meetups. The downside is that most of these friendships will stay online. (Sometimes, there are opportunities to meet up live, too, as I did with that training forum.)
Here’s our guide on how to make friends online.
9. Use an app like Bumble BFF
I got recommended to try Bumble BFF by a friend who said she’d met super interesting people there. I had a hard time taking the app seriously at first, mainly because the name is so silly.
I was surprised by how interesting people you can find there. Today, I have two good friends from that app that I hang out with on a regular basis.
A heads up is that I live in NYC. This app might be less effective in a small town. (Here, I talk about how to make friends in a small town.)
Here are my tips for being successful on Bumble BFF:
- On your profile, write down what your interests are. That way, others can know if you’re compatible.
- It’s not a dating app! Skip the photos where you try to look attractive or cool. Pick a photo where you look friendly. Also, sassy short texts on your profile that works on Tinder doesn’t work here.
- Be picky. I ONLY like profiles where people write about themselves and I can see that we have things in common.
Here our review of the best apps and websites for making friends.
10. Start a group related to your interest
When I lived in a small city, it was harder to find like-minded than here in NYC.
As an example, I love to have deep conversations and when I had just moved to that smaller city, I was starved on deep conversations. I looked for philosophy groups but couldn’t find any. I decided to start my own group.
I told people I thought might be interested even if I’d just met them once, and invited them to meet up every Wednesday at 7 PM. I asked them to invite their friends, and the group grew. We met for 6 months or something like that. It’s actually through that group that I met Viktor Sander, who turned into one of my best friends who now also works as SocialSelf’s in-house behavioral scientist. Pretty cool!
I joined a friend to another meetup specifically for people with online businesses. That group was also weekly, and 3 of my best friends are from that group! The founder of that group had a really clever way to find people:
He promoted his group on Facebook specifically for people who liked other online business pages in that city. (You can target crazy-specific stuff on Facebook, like only women aged 23-24 who live in the western parts of Kentucky who like Chihuahuas but not Bulldogs.) Because it was so targeted, he only spent 20-30 dollars, and several people showed up. Here’s a detailed guide on how to create a group and market on Facebook.
11. Be involved in a project
When I was younger, one of my interests was making movies. I and some friends from school used to meet up and work on different film projects. My friends, in turn, involved other friends, and I got to know a lot of people through these projects.
What’s a project you can be involved in?
You don’t necessarily have to start the project. You can join something ongoing related to what your interests are. Here are some thoughts on how to find those projects:
- Facebook groups that cover your interests (Search for things like “Photography”, “DIY Makers”, “Cooking”)
- Extracurricular activities at school
- Interest groups at work
- Regularly check physical bulletin boards and Facebook groups you’re already in, like those for your work or class or neighborhood.
12. Take any opportunity to meet people
The truth is that you can find like-minded literally everywhere as long as you make it a habit to get to know people on a more personal level, using the methods in step 1.
For example (this is a crazy story) I made small talk with a cashier at Trader Joe’s last week (a grocery store) and it turns out we have loads of things in common. We’re both interested in technology, futurology, biohacking, and AI. This weekend, we’re going to meet up with some of my friends who are also interested in those things.
The point is that every person you come across is an opportunity to make friends with. Even if you’re more likely to find like-minded at events related to specific interests, you might still meet a soul-sister or soul-brother anywhere.
Therefore, make sure to meet a lot of people. I’ve made a guide here about how to socialize at an event even if you find it boring.
13. Say yes 2 out of 3 times
In the previous step, I talked about how it’s important to meet a lot of people. Personally, my knee-jerk reaction was to say no to invites, because I like to spend lots of time by myself. To overcome that, I tried saying yes to all invites, but that was impractical.
A good rule that a friend taught me is to say yes to 2 out of 3 invites. That means that you can say no to when it really doesn’t work for you, but you still say yes to the majority of invites.
The risk with saying no to too many invites is that people soon stop inviting you. Not because they don’t like you, but because it doesn’t feel good to be turned down.
14. Follow up with people you hit it off with
I used to be really bad at keeping in touch with friends, because a) I didn’t know what to keep in touch about and b) I was afraid that they wouldn’t respond (Fear of rejection).
If you feel like you had a good connection with someone, make sure to take their number.
What I mean by good connection:
- The conversation flows effortlessly
- Both laugh sincerely
- You don’t just make small talk but talk about something both are passionate about
If you don’t feel this connection, that’s no big issue. I didn’t do that very often before I consciously started practicing conversation skills. Again, I have some links in step 1 of this guide for that.
Whenever you meet someone you connect with and have something in common with, use that commonality as an “excuse” to keep in touch with them.
“Really fun to talk to someone who’s also read Foucault. Let’s keep in touch and maybe meet up and talk philosophy some day! Do you have a number?”
And then, you can text a few days later. “Hi, David here. Was nice talking with you. Want to meet up this weekend and talk more philosophy?”
I took a big step in my personal development when I overcame the fear of rejection. Yes, sure, there’s always a risk someone might not respond. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t at least try (If you don’t you might miss out on making a new friend.)
How to find like-minded people, in summary
Finding like-minded friends has 6 parts to it:
- Get to know people before you write them off: Make a sincere effort to get to know people before you assume you don’t have anything in common.
- Improve your conversation skills: Practice your conversation skills so you get to know people on a deeper level and can create chemistry.
- Take all chances to socialize: You need to meet lots of people to find people you click with.
- Look for places you can meet recurringly: You want to meet people at least every week so you can develop a friendship with them.
- Look for places where people share your interests: You can improve your chances by going to places where people share your interests.
- Follow-up with people you like: Dare to keep in touch with people you’ve met. Use your mutual interest as the “reason” for meeting up.
I know that this sounds like a lot, but you only need to take the first step to get going and then you can learn along the way.
What’s a first step you can take right now to start finding people like you? Let me know in the comments below!