1. Lose Your "Resting B$%&# Face"*
You've heard of it, right? I promise I didn't make it up. It's the face you make when you're not making any face at all. If you want to make friends with strangers, you have to consciously think about what your facial expressions are saying to them. I know for a fact that my resting face makes me look super grouchy, because people ask me what's wrong with me so often. I've had to really practice lifting my eyebrows, turning the corners of my mouth slightly upwards, and smiling with my teeth instead of just lips. People want to be friends with people who have a pleasant look about them.
*somehow this doesn't apply to guys. huh.
2. Cut the Crap
Even when we lived in Utah we didn't have a whole lot of friends. Our friends were our family, so we didn't feel the need to go out and socialize. But there was one particular acquaintance that basically shoved her way into our lives, bringing her husband and baby with her - and looking back on that today, I'm so grateful she did! She is one of those people that just knows everyone and everyone loves her. And even though we were sad to leave them behind, there was a family just like them waiting for us in Carolina. People like them don't beat around the bush. If they like you, they'll invite you to hang out. They'll give you second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh tries if they want. They don't seem to worry about whether or not they're "being annoying" or "coming on too strong" or whatever other games people tend to play when developing new relationships. If you want to make friends fast, you have to take charge.
3. Take Chances
It doesn't matter if someone is much older or younger than you, has more or less money than you do, or seems to have completely different interests, you never know who is going to end up being a lifelong friend. If you restrict yourself to those in your same life situation, you will be disappointed - because nobody has the same life situation. Broaden your horizons!
4. Big Talk
If you're looking to not waste any time at all, you might as well skip over the small talk. Now, this can be risky - but again, you have to take chances. And sometimes big talk is the thing that can solidify a relationship between people who have no common hobbies or interests. If you start the evening with the question, "So, what's your stance on Obamacare?" You can avoid dancing around potential friendships that would ultimately end up crumbling apart anyway.
5. Include the Kids
Even if you don't have kids, if the people that you want to be friends with do, understand that they're not always going to be able to run out and find a babysitter every time you want to hang out. Beggars can't be choosers, and if you're desperate for friends you should be more than willing to be accommodating. Of course, "adults only" date nights and activities can happen, and are super fun, but make sure you plan them well in advance. As annoying as kids can get, a parent will always choose their family's best interests over their friends.
Basically, the age old adage holds true: If you want a friend, be a friend. You can't just hang around waiting for people to reach out to you all the time - if you want friends, sometimes you're going to have to pick up the phone, initiate the conversation, and extend the invitations into your home.