By Elizabeth Kate

It can be difficult to make a real connection with someone when you first meet them. It takes time, patience, and empathy to get to know a person on a deeper level. But when you’re able to easily break the ice with someone, you can start to build a meaningful friendship instantly! Check out these tips to get beyond the surface level.

1) Ask open-ended questions.

Instead of just the run-of-the-mill, “how are you?” or “what’s up?” questions, ask questions that go deeper and help you learn more about the person. Some suggestions are to ask about the pet in their profile picture, their cool sense of style, or anything they shared on their profile or in-person that catches your interest. Get to know them by asking what makes them who they are.

2) Find something in common.

Read her bio, check out their Instagram page or see what communities they’re part of and look for similarities that you share. When you find something you both have in common, it will make it much easier to connect on a deeper level and build a true friendship based on things you both enjoy.

3) Listen closely.

With all of the distractions out there (we’re talking about you, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook), it can be difficult to give your full attention to your new friend. Respond to her messages, take interest in what they likes and listen closely to what they have to say. Being a good listener is a key quality in a good friend.

4) Suggest an activity you’ll both enjoy.

If you saw an activity or hobby that they enjoyed, suggest doing this activity together. Whether it’s cooking, window shopping, or going to comedy shows, do something you can both enjoy together.

5) Share something about yourself.

Did you just get a new job? Earn a new certification or degree? Adopt a new pet? Whatever it is, tell them so they can get to know (and love!) the real you.

6) Recommend something useful.

Share your knowledge. Recommend a new yoga class, restaurant or book, and we are sure that your friend will be grateful for it. You may even find something in common this way. Hello, new yoga buddy!

7) Show your interests.

Now, this sounds like an obvious one, but it can be often over-looked. Show that you’re interested by asking questions and really engaging in the conversation. Ask questions and do your best to remember their answers. 

8) Share your experiences. 

Did you recently go on an overseas trip, learn a new skill, or even something as simple as cooking a different breakfast meal for yourself? Tell them! They’ll most likely be interested in what you do for fun and how you keep yourself busy and entertained. If you have something to share that could benefit or interest them, don’t be shy! Tell them and watch your connection grow even stronger.

9) Express your emotions.

If you love or admire something about them, let them know! Express your emotions of excitement, happiness, or even vulnerability to your new friend and you will automatically have a stronger connection.

10) Be true to yourself.

Best for last! Be yourself and show your new friend what you’re all about. Chances are they’ll like you for you and you two will get to know each other authentically. Don’t hide anything, be open with who you are, and you will be liked for being your true self.

Elizabeth Kate is passionate about (almost) everything she does, from her work as a Community Manager in NYC to her food blog and her dog. Her blog, Vivi e impara, means live and learn in Italian. Live and learn is her NYC-based food blog about women’s health, food, and much, more.

Originally published on VINAZINE.