Karl Moore challenges us to make a new friend, today. I think it’s a really good challenge, and something we should all attempt. But I want to build more on that. More than making a new friend, I want to challenge you to make it easy for others to befriend you.

Seth Godin recently posted about concealing vs. revealing. His post was written in the context of advertising, but I think the ideas (as with almost all of Seth Godin’s ideas) can be applied in other aspects of life. In this case, our personal relationships. Yes, you can go through life letting people know you on a need-to-know basis, hiding your weaknesses, etc. But to truly thrive, to build trust and have really meaningful relationships, you need to be willing to reveal things about yourself. It can be as simple as putting a phone number or even an email address on your blog. But yet, so many of us don’t want to do that. We’re afraid if we make ourselves available, we’ll be contacted by people who we don’t want to talk to – stalkers, spammers, and the like.

Where does this fear come from? Mitch Joel touched on this briefly in his session at Podcamp Boston 2, and I completely agree with him. He talked about how we train our kids from young to “never talk to strangers”. I’m pretty sure your parents have told you that at some point. But, as Mitch points out, it’s not the right lesson. At least not for us. Yes, maybe it’s a good idea to encourage your 5 year old kids to not talk to random guys on the street. But in general, for adults and even teenagers, it’s not a lesson we should follow. Life is all about relationships, why limit ourselves to the ones we have now? Why not make new ones? Especially if, as Karl points out, “Strangers are just friends that haven’t met yet”, then shouldn’t we be making an effort to talk to them? Sadly, the lesson that we should “never talk to strangers” has become so ingrained in us, that even as we grow up and mature, it sticks with us, and we become afraid to avail ourselves to strangers.

That’s why I really like the efforts of Scott. For those of you who don’t know him, he’s an expert on approachability. He wears a name tag 24/7 (he has a name tag tattooed to his chest – how’s that for dedication), in an attempt to build approachability. And it works. He has strangers coming up to him to talk to him. I think it’s a really great thing to do, and I’m actually thinking of trying it. The only problem is, in a culture like Singapore, it probably would never work. I might still give it a try, though. I’m thinking about it.

So, I want to encourage you guys to start today. Open yourself up more. Reveal more about yourself. You can start with simple steps – putting your contact information on your blog, making your real name and photo available, etc.

The basic point is to make yourself more approachable. Let others be friends with you. And in doing that, you’ll build a community.

What other things can you do to make it easier for others to befriend you?