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New Girl in Town

Sarah Bown

“You Seem Nice, Let’s Hang” And Other Ways To Make New Friends

Moving to a new city is full of questions. Where will I live? Where will I get a job? Oh god is today green or yellow bin day?!?!

For many, question numero uno on top of the list is: How do I make new friends?

Or, more specifically, how do I make new friends and avoid becoming crazy cat lady who’s unnaturally intimate with Ryan the Dominos delivery guy.

I moved to here with the same question running through my mind on the 14 hr drive from Adelaide (along with “how can one road possibly be SO boring…?”)

I thought about the people I knew in Canberra already. The grand total came to three. This included my boyfriend which, in a desperate attempt by me to boost the numbers, probably didn’t count. I hit rock bottom the night I spent eating my weight in microwave Mac ‘N’ Cheese and trying to reprogram Netflix to stop the BF finding out I’d watched ahead in Making A Murderer. I realised this was not a proactive ‘make friends and get popular’ plan. I needed to start taking it seriously. 

A voice spoke to me as if from the heavens “Sarah: put down the Mac N Cheese. It’s time to get busy”.

I embarked on a friendship study of trial and error. What is the magical algorithm to finding all those cool/smart/pinot drinking/Italian food lovers lurking in dark alleys just waiting to meet me? What followed was a month undercover, many awkward pauses, open-mouth-insert-foot moments and clinging limpet-esque to people who clearly didn’t want to be friends. But the results are in: here are my two “Must Do’s” for ditching the lonelies this winter:

#1 Network #likeaboss

Assuming you have moved from a location where you once DID have friends, those people are your best untapped resource. 

Everyone knows someone’s boss, aunt, second cousin, postal worker who lives in Canberra, just waiting with bated breath to be your future BFF. Meeting people you know through mutual friends is way less scary than meeting total strangers so the comfortable factor is more “this should be ok” and less “should I drink three or four shots before I go?”. And at least you have one prepared discussion topic: 

“So how do you know so-and-so? I used to be her hairdresser/babysitter/tantric sex coach.” (I dare you not to have a few questions after that one…) 

Upon arriving in Canberra I made it my mission to schmooze with many of my network’s Canberra connections and it’s worked really well. Make like Zuckerberg and make your social network work for you (Disclaimer: billions of dollars not included)

#2 Be overly keen. In a good way. 

So you’ve made a new acquaintance at dance class/work/Donut Appreciation society and you want to become friends for reals. If you’re not an extroverted person this can be scary but it’s really worth it to make the effort. Consider scenario A:

Kelly and Joni meet at yoga and chat briefly before class. Joni thinks Kelly’s sweet and friendly. Kelly like Joni’s zebra print yoga pants and wants to know where they’re from. The following silent conversation occurs:

Joni: “The class is almost over, Kelly seems cool, should I ask for her number? Will she think it’s too forward? Does she think I’m desperate? Should I just try to find her on Facebook instead? PLAY IT COOL JONI!

Kelly: “The class is almost over, Joni has the most amazing yoga pants. I need to get those pants. Maybe I should ask if she wants to get coffee after? Will that be too obvious? Will she think I’m a fashion stalker? PLAY IT COOL KELLY!

The moment you feel a friendship connection with someone new, there’s a good chance they are feeling the same and hoping YOU will be the one to initiate something. If you don’t take the chance, you’ll end up like Joni and Kelly who went home separately to matching trays of lasagna and Mr/Mrs Whiskerson. 

Making new friends is no walk in the park. While it has gone well for me, it was once not all puppies and rainbows. One dark Canberra night, I sat in my car before attending a function where I knew nobody. 

I was completely. freaking. out. 

“It’s going to be fine, you are smart and interesting and have great shoes, people like that!”

“Ok if it turns out terrible just excuse yourself to the bathroom and run out the front door!” 


So next time you’re anxious about making new friends, try to remember, what’s the worst that could happen? With every successful connection your confidence will grow and let’s speak the truth here people, there is nothing a little (read: whole) Bailey’s cheesecake can’t fix. 

Oh and anyone who has information on the meeting schedule of the Canberra Donut Appreciation Society, feel free to flick those deets my way. If you need me I’ll be making some donut friends. 

Click + Connect

If you’re keen to make some mates in Canberra, HerCanberra’s Click + Connect is a monthly event that creates a fun, relaxed environment in which you can meet some like-minded women and hopefully make some new friends!

The next event is next Thursday 18 August at National Archives of Australia – there’ll be fashion, scarf-tying workshops, henna tattooing, food and wine and more! Grab your ticket below…


Sarah Bown

Sarah is fresh off the plane to Canberra and quickly realising she's not in Kansas anymore. She's a writer and marketing professional by day and spends her free time reading way too much self-help literature followed up by too much Pinot Gris. Sarah spent 2015 working in Mongolia sharing her marketing and communications skills with local organisations. Yes it was her choice, yes they have internet and no it's not next to Syria. She's in Canberra to write more, exercise more, meditate more and then proceed to do Option D: none of the above. Sarah shares more newbie tips, general hilarity and plenty of things to read while procrastinating doing actual work at www.facebook.com/signedbysez. More about the Author

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