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No matter what’s happening in your life, you will want friends by your side! With the rise of technology, making friends online is a growing and common occurrence. This is especially true and useful if you are someone who is attending online college. That’s why knowing how to make friends online can greatly and positively impact your experience while at an online college, and in general in your life.

When you attend a traditional on-campus school, you will make friends in class, study halls, and at on-campus events. But when you attend an online college, you will need to try new methods to build friendships.

Here are some helpful tips on where and how to establish, grow, and maintain online friendships.

Messaging friends online in a chat

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Where and How to Find New Friends Online

Finding friends online goes hand-in-hand with finding new friends in real life. It still requires that you take part in activities within your community and can evolve said friendships online.

Some places where you can expect to find new friends both in person and online include:

1. Study groups:

Create or join a group for students at your college. Then you can offer to meet for study groups or join already existing study groups.

2. Do things you love in your city:

One of the best ways to make friends is to take part in activities you enjoy. That way, you can meet people with similar interests with whom you can continue the activity. You can leverage online websites to find events you’re interested in, whether that be through social media or checking a gym’s schedule of classes online, for example.

3. Join a group online based on your likes:

Based on your interests and hobbies, try to perform a search online to find a group that shares in your hobby. Then, connect online and set up in-person meetings to perform the interest. For example, you can find people who like to paint online and then set up a wine and paint night!

4. Connect on social media:

From Facebook to Instagram, and Snapchat to Twitter, there are plenty of social media platforms where you can make new friends.

Start a Conversation Online and Next Steps

Once you locate the digital places where you can connect with like-minded and potential friends, the next step is saying hello and making plans. This is where a lot of people struggle because connecting online can feel less personal.

People don’t want to come off as weird or creepy online, so here are some tips on how to start the conversation:

1. Start a conversation that leads to meeting up:

When you join a social media group or group online, start to be active in the group. Like and comment on other people’s posts and then consider posting and sharing yourself. People will start to recognize your name as you recognize theirs. Some people may reach out first, but if not, you can at least begin to build a connection through consistent communication. Then you can take the next step to send a personal message.

2. Send a message to someone you want to get to know:

Once you decide who you want to befriend, send a message! You can reach out by sharing something you related to that they shared and ask a question, or just share your support for something they’ve shared. Then let the conversation unfold naturally.

3. Ask questions to continue conversations:

A good way to keep a conversation going is to ask questions. Most people who want to engage in conversation will ask questions back if they are interested. This will give you a sign to know if there’s something worth growing with them.

Try a Friend Dating App

Like online dating, there are now apps geared towards meeting friends online. There are plenty of options to consider. Take a look at this list and check out those that are calling your name!

FriendMatch: networking that translates into meeting in person

Bumble BFF: networking based on geographic location and more

Friender : networking based on activities you enjoy

Hey!VINA: networking for women

Peanut: networking based on motherhood

Atleto: networking based on sports

Meetup: networking based on interests (and real life activities)

REALU: networking based on location

Nearify: networking based on nearby events

Skout: networking based on unexpected meetings in person

Nextdoor : networking in your community

Meet My Dog: networking for you and your dog

Tips for Making Friends Online

Now that you know how and where to find friends online, you have to master the art of communicating virtually. This consists of creating good profiles, writing sincere messages, choosing who to contact, and keeping conversations interesting.

Consider the following tips and tricks!

1. Avoid mistakes that make you seem needy:

Although most people have their phones on them, they don’t always have time to respond to messages. Try to avoid messaging multiple times in a row if you are not receiving a response. If you seem too eager and demanding for responses or ask to meet too quickly, they may end up pulling back. Go with the natural flow of the conversation and be patient.

2. Keep the conversation flowing:

Focus on your common interests and ask sincere questions.

3. Strengthen the bond:

Rather than asking generic questions, like “what are you studying in school?” ask about the person’s passions and reasons for why they are studying what they chose. Or, even what they dream of doing if money didn’t matter.

4. Craft your online profile:

From choosing a username that gives an explanation of who you are (if it must be different than your actual name) to designing a profile, you want to make sure you give enough information that can draw new friends to you. This comes up most in the About Me section of profiles. Some things to include are: your hobbies, what you’re looking to find on the app, and an inviting line that signals you are happy for people to reach out to you.

5. Choosing who to contact online:

When apps give you the option, you can filter who you want to meet by location, age, gender, interests, and the like. That way, you can search for people based on what you’re hoping to find.

Person holding phone and using Instagram

Photo by geo uc on Unsplash

Choosing the Right Platform to Make Friends Online

With the wide variety of platforms to make friends online, you’ll want to choose one that aligns with your goals. For starters, there are two types of online platforms to consider — reciprocal and nonreciprocal.

These break down as follows:

  • Reciprocal: These networks require mutual interest. That means, to become someone’s friend, they must accept you too, like on Facebook.
  • Non-Reciprocal: These social networks, like Twitter and Instagram, allow you to follow others without them having to follow you back.

When looking to benefit from deep connections online, reciprocal platforms tend to perform better because they require the mutual interest from the get go.

Benefits of Online Friendships

Even though the connection is made online, psychologists have found that the emotional and psychological benefits of these friendships equal those of face-to-face relationships. Online friendships are also very useful for those who have social anxiety or are shy. Having the screen as a mediator between the communication can alleviate the anxiety associated with verbal and in-person communication.

For students who attend online college, the online atmosphere that supports friendships allows for students to connect and work together, just like they would if they were geographically in the same place.

Speaking of not being in the same geographic location, online friendships remove that barrier in a meaningful way. This means that because of digital communication, you are now able to make friends from all over the world. Back in the day, this was not such an easy accomplishment!

Are Online Friendships As Meaningful as In-Person Relationships?

The main components of friendship include: freedom to choose, intimacy, and commitment. Online friendships maintain these three things. You have the choice to become friends with or end friendships with whomever you wish. You are able to be intimate through what you choose to share with one another. And, lastly, you can continue your commitment to the friendship by communicating over time.

Keep Your Options Open

When it comes to choosing friends online and using applications, you may narrow down your search to be very specific. You may see things you aren’t looking for and swipe left instead of right on what could potentially have become your next best friend. Sometimes, it pays to keep an open mind when online friendship matching. This is because it can mirror your experience like real life.

Think of this: when you go out in public places, you never know who you will meet. The randomness of new connections is sometimes what makes them all the more worthwhile. As such, you should practice the same open-minded attitude when meeting people online. That way, you can expand your opportunities to meet new people. Only once you get to know them better can you truly assess whether or not it is a relationship worth pursuing or not.

The Bottom Line

Making friends online is equally as important as having friends in real-life. Knowing how to make friends online can change your life!

Online friends can become friends in person or remain digital. Regardless of how or where you meet them online, the depth of your relationship depends on your effort, time, and communication.

Having a strong community of friends will improve your overall quality of life. When you’re attending online university, it is really beneficial to meet people in a similar situation so that you can share thoughts, rely on one another for support, and develop meaningful friendships over time.

At the University of the People, one of the most treasured aspects of our online college experience is that students from all over the world have the opportunity to connect with one another. If you’re interested in learning more about our programs and how you can join a robust and engaged community of learners, request more information here.

University of the People