In school, you had classes and extra-curricular activities that made it easy to make new friends. It gave you a sense of community without traveling far. But now you’re a twenty-something in the real world, you have to work a little harder to find lasting relationships—this is adulthood. Catty girls still exist (in a crueler form of evil co-workers), and you have to weave through to find the hidden gems, the ones who will stick by your side through thick and thin,  and the ones you want to call at the end of a bad day at work or just to gossip. Whether you’re in a new city or venturing on your own in your hometown, here’s how to make new friends in your 20s:

1. Meetup 

Meetup is exactly as it sounds—it’s a website where people with a variety of interests post “meetups” where you can meet other people in your area who share a common interest. Want to go see “Fifty Shades of Grey” but don’t want to go alone? There’s a meetup for that. Want to go rock climbing or take pictures by the lakefront? There’s a meetup for that. Have a pet and want to meet other dog parents? There’s a meetup for that.

It’s free and easy to sign up. Create a profile with your interests, and you’ll be notified of meetings within the specific groups you’re interested in, as well as new groups. If you want to go out, but all your friends are lame busy, search the site and find a new group of gals to hit the town. Being adventurous takes a risk, but if anything, it gets you out and meeting new people.

2. Join a young professionals group

A young professionals group in your career field (whether you’re in an entry-level or manager role) is a great way to network and meet new people. They host events from seminars and panels with prominent professionals to luncheons and happy hours—because you are an adult, and this is what adults do.

3. Take a new class

Whether it’s a workout class or a hobby, getting involved in something you love with other like-minded people will give you something in common, and a way to greet them and have a decent conversation. It’s a great way to relieve stress and enjoy your free time. When you’re comfortable, ask them to meet for coffee or a smoothie after class.

4. Volunteer

Not only is it good for the soul, you’re doing something you love and meeting new people who share that passion. It’s a win-win for everyone.

5. Join a religious organization

No matter your affiliation or how religious you are, an organization like this is the “real world” version of Mom and Dad, but without Mom and Dad. Like Mom’s cooking on Shabbat, but you’re 1000 miles away from home? Many temples host Shabbat dinners, so you get that comfort level, but on your own terms. Want to go to church on Sundays but don’t have anyone to go with? Involvement in a religious organization, whether you want to volunteer or just go for a fun event being hosted, is a great way to connect on a new level with people who share your beliefs.

6. Smile and compliment

This is the easiest way to start a conversation. If you’re shy, instead of walking down the street with a resting b*tch face or staring at the ground, lift your head up and smile. Complimenting someone, whether it’s the trendy skirt she’s wearing or the catchy band he’s listening to will not only make their day, but it’ll make you feel great about stepping outside your comfort zone. Even if it’s raining cats and dogs and you’ve had the worst day, a sunny outlook shows you’re confident and makes you more approachable.

The real world isn’t as scary as it sounds. Show everyone how fabulously awesome you are!


Hannah Gettleman is a bubbly twenty-something living in Chicago. She graduated in 2012 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in Journalism. Don't tell her that print is dying--she's already made the switch to public relations. As a Midwest girl, winter happens approximately 80% of the year, so she knows a thing or two about a good pair of snow boots. She lives for summer weather (even though she can never tan), Boy Meets World reruns, and an unhealthy addiction to dark chocolate and online shopping. She's a die-hard Chicago sports fan, even though she's well aware the Cubs always end up in last place every year.

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