How to be a good friend: 10 small but impactful ways to show people you care
So you want to make someone feel special and valued? If you’re putting in the effort to ask yourself (or the internet) how to be a good friend, you’re already halfway there!
The good news is there are so many ways to make someone feel special. You don’t need a lot of money and you don’t need a lot of time, because it’s not about the grand gestures (especially if you don’t know the other person that well!).
It’s actually the little things we do consistently that leave the biggest impact. It’s the thought and attention that makes someone feel seen, appreciated, and cared for.
This is a short introduction to the things I do to show my love for people, whether they’re close friends or just acquaintances I admire.
I’ve also included whether it’s a better fit for good friends or looser acquaintances.
I hope this list inspires you to experiment with reaching out to someone you care about!
1. Bring them a surprise coffee or snack
Doing a co-working day with a friend or just meeting up to hang out in the park? Get small treats for the both of you! A coffee, a donut, a chocolate bar — anything you think they’d like. Don’t tell them about it beforehand. Just give it to them when you see them.
Everybody loves delicious things, but they’re twice as good when you don’t expect them. Make sure you get yourself something too so you can both share the experience!
👉 This works well with both friends and acquaintances.
2. Publicly celebrate their wins
We love to celebrate our own wins (I’m all over LinkedIn whenever I get featured somewhere), but we rarely do it for our friends. We’ll drop a thumbs up or a supportive comment, or we’ll congratulate them in private… and that’s usually the end of it.
(Hot tip: connecting over a recent win is a GREAT way to reach out to someone without feeling weird. Read more here!)
You can build your friend up even more by publicly celebrating their win! Whether that’s taking the opportunity to mention it to someone else or using your own platform to boost them (e.g. sharing the podcast episode they were featured on and why you loved it), it shows that you really care about something they care about. You took the time and effort to make sure they were recognized for something they’re proud of.
👉 This is best for friends and people you know well!
3. Give them a shoutout if you reference something they taught you
People love to share their knowledge. Whether it’s through articles they’ve written, problems they’ve helped you solve, or passing comments that have fundamentally changed the way you look at something. A lot of the time, they don’t know how much that means to us.
Take the time to give the people you’ve learned from a shoutout! Mention what you learned, what problem it solved, or how it changed the way you think about something. It’ll make that person feel like they made a meaningful impact on their life and that you appreciate them. And we all love to feel appreciated!
👉 This is great for both friends and acquaintances. It’s a good way to build a bond with someone you don’t know very well, but whose work you’ve seen and benefited from.
4. Let them know they’re on your mind
Sometimes it’s as easy as sending a message saying, “Hey! Was just thinking of you. How have things been with X?”. It doesn’t have to be a huge conversation, but you can still let them know they’re on your mind. Just swap the X out with something specific to that person — work, a new hobby, a trip they went on.
It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort, and the unexpected message lets the other person know you’re thinking of them even if you haven’t talked in a while!
👉 This works well for friends!
5. Put in an effort to boost their work (how can you go beyond just a “like”?)
Do you see someone trying to start something new? Maybe it’s a newsletter, a company, a project, or something else entirely. How can you boost their work, going beyond just a “like”? Is there someone you can connect them to that would be helpful? Can you amplify what they’re doing through your own voice and channels?
Starting something new is hard, no matter what it is. Making people feel supported along the way is so impactful, especially when you take the initiative to do it!
👉 This is great for both friends and acquaintances. It will mean a lot to the other person and can be the beginning of a new relationship with someone you don’t know well!
6. Ask for recommendations on a topic they’re passionate about
We talked abut how people love sharing knowledge, and we can go a step further. Think of people you respect or want to get to know better and the things that they love talking about. Can you ask them for a recommendation on a topic they’re passionate about?
That could be books, movies, restaurants, productivity apps, etc. It has to be something you care about as well and that you genuinely want to hear their answer to. It makes people feel good to know they’re considered the go-to source for something they care about, and that you respect their opinion!
👉 This is great for both friends and acquaintances. Just make sure you’re asking for something that’s specific to their experience, NOT something you can go and google yourself!
7. Follow up to let them know your thoughts on the thing they recommended!
This is a great way to follow up after you’ve asked someone for a recommendation. Once you’ve read the book/seen the movie/gone to the restaurant/tried the productivity app, let them know your thoughts!
It shows that you valued their recommendation enough to try it, and you can share what you appreciated about it.
👉 This is great for both friends and acquaintances.
8. Tell them something you notice or appreciate about their work
Do you notice someone working at something? Maybe they’ve been sharing more of their content on LinkedIn, creating YouTube videos, or trying to build the audience for their newsletter.
Reach out to tell them something you love about their work or the content they’re sharing! Maybe it’s how comfortable they are in front of a camera or the level of depth they find in their newsletter. Reach out and let them know!
People. Love. Being. Appreciated!
👉 This is great for both friends and acquaintances.
9. When they mention something they’re excited about, dig in with more questions!
Asking questions shows we care about the things someone is sharing with us. And that’s true whether we’re meeting someone for the first time or having our 1000th conversation with a close friend.
If you see that someone is excited about something they’re telling you, ask more about it! Let them share the details and enjoy the excitement with them! We all want to share our passions with other people who appreciate them and us, and it feels good to feel interesting.
👉 This is great for both friends and acquaintances! Just use your discretion for when to ask questions and what kinds of questions to ask, depending on how well you know someone.
10. If they mention upcoming events/decisions, follow up to see how they turned out!
Maybe it’s a big move, an upcoming anniversary, or starting a new job. If someone told you about a big upcoming event or decision they had to make, check in after to see how it went!
It shows that you paid attention to something that was important to them, and cared about something they also cared about.
👉 This is great for both friends and acquaintances! My general rule of thumb is, if somebody shared an important upcoming event or decision with you, it’s okay to ask them how it turned out.
Here are the two next steps you should take to make the most out of the tips above.
- Subscribe to our newsletter for even more tips! We send weekly emails on how to build your own strong personal community, no matter where you are. That means tips on making new friends, building deeper relationships, and changing your mindset when it comes to new connections.
- Use one of the tips above to connect with someone you want to build a stronger relationship with. Pick one that feels easy and intuitive and go make it happen!
How to be a better friend is all within your reach. And it doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming!
Hope this helps you build the community you’ve always wanted.