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Do you find yourself looking forward to making new and meaningful connections with others, but are not quite sure how to go about it? Are you one of those people who are more comfortable interacting online first, before meeting in person? Or maybe you’re just curious about exploring your online options for making friends?
Honestly, the idea of forming online connections seems a lot more attractive nowadays, especially with all the changes happening in the world. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to do this. All you need is to find the right platform for you, and of course, be yourself!
Don’t worry if it sounds daunting. I’ll walk you through with seven steps on how to make friends online… without making it weird!
But first, let’s talk about why you should make the effort to make friends online.
Why Make Friends Online?
Honestly, why not?
If it is the most convenient and comfortable way for you to start connecting with someone, then go for it! There are just as many benefits to online friendships as there are with meeting them in person, anyway.
Some people are naturally introverted, and the online world is much more preferable to them than going out. It could also be a geographic hurdle… as you find yourself currently in a location that does not have many people from your age group.
Or maybe you have more acquaintances than friends… they don’t really get you or share the same interests. I know how frustrating this can be. So why not branch out? Cast a wider net. Sure, they can be supportive of you, but it’s still not the same as being able to share the excitement and enjoyment of a common interest.
Fortunately, technology allows you to expand your horizons. You don’t have to be limited to your physical space or location for you to explore new communities, find new worlds. The online world is so vast and varied, you’re sure to find a place–and people–that can help you get out of your shell and grow your passions.
Another great thing about making friendships online is that you can interact and engage according to your own schedule and convenience. Some situations also make it naturally possible for you to meet people online, such as online classes and work from home setups.
These online environments automatically present opportunities for creating friendships online. All that’s left for you to do now is take this opportunity and make the most out of it! Done right, you can even look at the possibility of eventually meeting each other in person and further enhancing the friendship from there!
How to Make Friends Online
Now we move on to the fun part… where we dive into how to make friends online. We’ve got seven tips for you, but again, you don’t need to limit yourself to these items listed here. These are just a few of the things you can do to successfully make friends online.
1. Update Your Online Profile
To make friends online, you need to have an online profile. If you really want to expand your network, then you should make your profile accessible and open to such interactions. So if your online account is set to private, the first thing you should do is to set it to public.
This does not mean putting all your personal and confidential information out there for everyone to see. Rather, your public profile should ideally have a well-curated set of details about you that’s safe enough for public consumption.
Is your social media profile picture updated? Do you think it works well in highlighting the best version? Does it reflect your personality? Is it quirky, does it look friendly, or is it weird or cryptic? Since you want to reach out to others online, try to also think about what they would think if they see your profile picture.
How do you react to profile pictures? Try to think about that to put yourself in the shoes of those people that will come across your profile.
2. Join Online Communities
You don’t need to worry about finding online communities to join, because there are really so many of them out there. You actually should be more concerned about choosing the right one for you, since there are literally plenty of options to choose from.
The funny thing is that some people are so undecided; they end up not being able to officially join until much later. Meanwhile, there are those that simply go ahead and join any community they can find, and then simply exit if it turns out not as interesting or not as good a fit for them as they hoped it to be.
The important thing is that you are able to find a community that does share your interests and passions. Reddit, for example, has plenty of communities (called “subreddits”) on just about any topic you can think of in the world! Personally, I know of a couple of people who even found their significant others on Reddit! It’s an amazing place to be when you find the community for you.
3. Take Advantage of Online Apps
If finding the right thread or community for you seems daunting, then try a more direct approach and use online apps. Again, there’s no shortage in options, and they’re all very easy to download and access.
Apps like Meetup, for example, even have IRL events and get-togethers, in case you’re ready to level up from online to real life friendships. Bumble BFF is also another popular option. If that sounds familiar to you, that’s because it is an offshoot of the popular dating app, which frankly is a great idea because not everyone wants to do online dating.
The point is that there are literally THOUSANDS of options for you out there so go and fine one for you!
4. Break the Ice
Once you’re in these communities or groups, you need to find a way to break the ice. Getting in there is just the first step. You won’t make friends online unless you make your presence known. You can maybe start by following a particular thread that interests you, and then leave a comment or respond to a question.
Conversations naturally flow from there, so all you need to do now is keep the momentum going. The great thing about online socials, however, is that there is no pressure for you to keep engaging. You don’t need to chime in on every little comment you find on there. It’s okay too to simply observe and follow the conversation. That way, you’re also learning more about the people that're in the same community as you.
5. Manage Your Expectations
Let’s say you finally make a connection with someone and decide to extend your connection on a personal chat. It’s important for you to manage your connection in regards to this friendship you’re building.
Manage your expectations. They don’t have to be online all the time, and neither should they be expected to reply to your messages immediately. In fact, you should also try to manage the frequency of your messages with them. Don’t make it weird by being clingy and needy.
Especially if your online friend is from a different timezone, you need to be mindful and considerate of their availability online.
Don’t pressure them into joining you for a video chat if they’re not ready for that step. Remember, you each have your own levels of comfort and confidence, even online. Don’t impose your own standards or system on them. Rather, respect their boundaries too just as much as you would like them to respect yours.
6. Be Authentic and Sincere
It’s so easy to fake information about yourself online. Sure, people want to put forward the best version of themselves, but don’t cross the line and outright lie about it.
That’s not to say you should give up confidential information about yourself. Rather, be picky and careful with what you divulge (because online security is still very important!), but also, share what you’re comfortable to share, and make sure it’s information that your online friend would find useful too.
7. Be Yourself!
Last but not least, BE YOURSELF! There’s no need to pretend online, contrary to popular beliefs. Even if you present yourself a certain way upon initial introduction, the deeper your conversations get and the more time you spend with each other online will reveal your true self anyway, more or less.
Just have fun! Making friends online is all about that, just as it is with making friends in real life. Remember, the quality of friendships does not depend on the platform, but in the sincerity and effort you put into it!
Final Thoughts on How to Make Friends Online Without Making It Weird
Making friends online is a great and convenient way for you to expand your network. It allows you to meet different kinds of people from all over the world, and can also help you break out of your shell and expand your interests.
To make successful and meaningful friendships online, however, you first need to get out there and actually be accessible. Be reasonable in your expectations, respect other people’s boundaries, and be yourself! Friendship, as with any other type of relationship, needs a good amount of effort, especially if it's still new and developing.
When you properly nurture and nourish this relationship, even though it is “only” online, there's a good chance it could very well become one of the most precious and treasured connections you have.
With these simple steps, you can make great friendships online! Now go out there and have fun!