How To Make Friends On The Internet

1. Cleanse (& Update) Your Online Image

Say you’re going out IRL to a get-together your friends are throwing or a speed-dating sesh at your local bar. You’re eager to meet a special someone, whether it be a romantic interest or your future BFF. To make certain you give a fine first impression, you’d likely throw on your best outfit, shave, and spritz a bit of your favorite perfume or cologne, right? 

Do the same thing when making friends online.

But, when preparing for online friendships, your first impression isn’t based on what you’re wearing (for the most part). Rather, it’s your online image you’ve got to freshen up.

One of the first things people do when meeting someone online is to Google their name, just as an employer would do when considering you for a job (side note: make sure you research them, as well!). If they did yours, what would come up? Is your latest Facebook post an obscenity-laced tirade against a restaurant that didn’t get your order right? Do you have a LinkedIn account that’s completely out of date? 

Preemptively clean up your presence online, and you’ll definitely improve your chances of making a great first impression!

2. Find a Niche You’re Passionate About

If you’re looking to make friends online, consider your interests. What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing during your free time? 

When you connect over shared interests, your future relationship gets a significant head start. Not only will you both have something that prompts a conversation, but you’ll both be genuinely interested in the topic, increasing your chances of having a conversation that lasts longer and deeper than usual.

Here are some ideas for shared interests groups you might search for:

  • Book clubs
  • Expat communities
  • Travel groups
  • Neighborhood ferret owners
  • Beer connoisseurs 
  • Graphic design network
  • Science fiction enthusiasts
  • Local foodies
  • CUNY alumni
  • White-hat hacking collective
  • Language lovers
  • Hobby model train collectors
  • Devon Rex owners
  • Black Lives Matter regional chapters
  • French cinephiles 
  • Weekend hiking get-togethers
  • Freelance workers community
  • Amateur photographers
  • Local fitness Facebook group

Really, there is no limit to the number of communities waiting to welcome you. And, they’re quite easy to find; Google is a great starting point, of course, as is Facebook and Reddit. For more options on places to meet new friends online, we’ll give you a list of great apps and sites just below, so keep reading!

3. Make Your Pitch at the Start

I often get messages from people wanting to start a conversation with me on LinkedIn, due to the fact that my profile is linked from many of my past writing work. However, a good number of them simply write to me with “Hey” or “Hello.” I’ll be honest—these all get ignored or deleted..

When you send the first message to start a conversation with someone, explain what made you choose to connect. You can combine that with a nice compliment and a quick sentence about yourself to make for a connection request that’s quite hard to ignore. 

Here’s an example:

“Hi Julie, my name is Christian, and I’m fellow Cavalier King Charles Spaniel owner myself. I just moved to the area and joined this dog club, and it’s quite cool to see another Cavalier in the group. Perhaps we could sync up our walks one day so your Rex and my Fifi could meet? Either way, I’m so excited to be a member of the Prospect Heights Kanine Klub, and I look forward to speaking with you more soon. Take care!”

What’d you think?

Sure, it’s not going to work 100% of the time. However, the message conveys enthusiasm, shows you have common interests, and pitches a meetup. The meetup pitch may work in this case as both parties have dogs, but play it by ear each time, as each scenario is different. Chances are, you may need to nurture your budding relationship for significantly longer before proposing an IRL meet.

4. Join an Online Community 

If you’re wondering how to make friends online, it’s important to know where to make friends online. While Google may be a great place to start, there are a whole host of mobile apps and websites dedicated to specific groups and communities.

Here are some of the best websites and apps for making friends online:

  1. Goodwall – That’s us!
  2. Meetup – Events and get-togethers IRL or virtually for specific interests or groups.
  3. Hey! VINA – App for women to make female friendships while bonding over wine, travel, and other similar interests.
  4. Bumble BFF – The popular dating app’s counterpart for making platonic friends.
  5. InterNations – City-based network of expats with a business-minded atmosphere.
  6. Nextdoor – A neighborhood-based platform for connecting with locals.
  7. Patook – Only platonic friendships, and flirting gets you banned.
  8. Interpals – Connect over a love of languages and traveling.
  9. Facebook – Gazillions of local and niche groups to be found.
  10. Meet My Dog – “Location-based social application that helps you connect with other dog owners in your local area.”
  11. BarkHappy – Similar to the previous one.
  12. Friender – Connect with people and meet new friends over common activities and shared interests.
  13. Yubo – Tinder-like swiping app for making friends nearby.
  14. Skout – Meet people online from all over the world.
  15. Couchsurfing – Meet locals when traveling, host travelers.

Remember—find something that interests you to help narrow things down, because more people doesn’t always mean more friendships. You’ll likely have more luck finding friends in a small group of 50 people with similar interests than you would in a larger community with tens of thousands of members.

5. Don’t Set High Expectations

One important thing to remember is that, while you might have found someone who you think would make perfect BFF material, they might not feel the same way about you.

Keep your expectations low. If you don’t get a reply or receive one that basically ends any chances of a friendship from the get-go, don’t take it personally. In this case, “it’s not you, it’s me” could actually be true. Perhaps that person has too much on their plate at the moment and doesn’t have the time or energy to connect with new people for the time being. Maybe they’ve disconnected from social media and aren’t receiving anyone’s messages. Or any of infinite reasons, really.

Also, if you do make a connection with a potential new buddy, don’t expect everything to go according to your schedule or preconceived notion of how a friendship ought to work. Everyone is different, with different priorities, expressions, responsibilities, expectations, and personalities. One new bud may reply to you immediately every time simply because they’re always on their phone, while another future bestie could take hours or days to reply to you because they’re just not on Facebook so often. 

culled from by Christian Eilers

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