LISTEN to the other person with genuine interest.
Most people enjoy talking about themselves (myself included!), but most people don't get to do that very often. They are swamped with work, kids, problems at home, and financial issues. Their usual conversations revolve around those topics, so they don't usually get a chance to discuss their interests, hobbies, or what is on their heart. If you take a genuine interest in those things and actively listen to what they have to say, you will be a great conversationalist and friend.
When I was younger, I mistakenly assumed that the way to have a lot of friends or be an interesting person was to impress everyone with myself and my accomplishments. It didn't take long to realize that most people do not care about that stuff. What they do care about is being heard. I learned to talk about myself less and ask more questions about the other person. I have been amazed by how easy it is to make friends and have great conversations when I turn my focus to the other person.
Quite honestly, this shift is not difficult! I truly like people and finding out more about them. It is astonishing how gifted and talented other people are. Everyone has some hidden talent that they love to discuss if asked! It's amazing to hear other people's experiences... some people have sure overcome some adversity in their lives! Others have achieved huge successes that surprise me and make me so glad I asked! I have found that I have something in common with everybody, and there is some way for us to connect no matter who I'm talking to. Other people are INTERESTING! Each one was hand-crafted by God; no wonder they are so fascinating!
Someone once pointed out that humans have two ears but only one mouth, and we should listen and speak in that proportion. Makes sense, doesn't it?!
By listening more, it's easier to understand why people are the way they are. When I know where they've been in their lives I can empathize with their struggles and offer encouragement when appropriate. By listening more, I can network more effectively. For example, by talking to a woman recently I discovered she was a retired artist who loved to create business logos just for fun now. I have a friend who popped into my mind who could benefit from her service and I was able to connect the two. Everyone excels at something and it's an awesome challenge to discover what it is and encourage them on their journey!
So the moral of this story is that the best way to be a friend is to listen more and be genuinely interested in the other person. The saying goes, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Care enough to ask questions and learn about someone else. That is more impressive to someone else than all the accolades on your resume!