Let’s face it, people weren’t meant to be alone. We all need friends. While some people can make five friends in five minutes, some people need much more time to make a friend. Regardless of where you fall, the internet provides a unique opportunity to make friends very easily – all you need are some typing skills. The following is meant for those who would like to have more online friends but don’t know where to start. Note: friend here could mean date. 🙂
1. Social Networking Sites
Making friends here is easy because that’s the whole point behind such sites. I recommend Hi5 over the highly rated myspace as, in my experience, Hi5 users are much more friendly and approachable. What you need to do:
- Get an account at a social networking site and create a profile. Make the profile as detailed as possible. would recommend having someone who really knows you do it and then you come in and edit it later. Put up your picture.
- Invite everyone in your email address book to be your friends. Next, visit your friends’ profiles and browse through their friends and contact some of them. Since you share a common friend, this should be relatively easy. Alternatively, ask your friends to introduce you to some of their other friends that you would like to get to know.
- Join groups that interest you and use this as an excuse to get to know the groups’ other members.
- Search for people with similar interests and contact them.
2. Online Dating Sites
Everyone who joins an online dating site is looking for new friends, or more. The only difference with social networking sites is that online dating sites are more ‘adult’ in nature and the people there are often looking for much more than friendship. OkCupid is the best around. What you need to do:
- Your profile is very important as many people will make a personal judgment of you just by looking at it. Therefore, make your profile as best as you can. Again, having a friend doing the first draft is advisable.
- Don’t just stop there but visit and use the dating site often. Many users only contact people who keep their profile updated.
- Dating sites often send a periodic email of people who match your requirements or who would like to meet you. Exploit this feature and contact every person on such a list. You probably have a lot in common with them and may get along easy.
- Browse or search for people with similar interests and contact them.
These are probably the hardest places online to make lasting friends. This is because a typical chatroom has many people and so going one on one with someone is difficult and requires that the two of you get along quite well. However, if you can pull that off then you have an excellent shot at long term friendship. Don’t lose heart, though, as everyone in a chatroom is looking to talk to someone. Talkcity is my chat site of choice. What you need to do:
- Set up a good profile, if possible.
- Choose an intriguing and appropriate screen name. Avoid suggestive ones like ‘killerboy’ or ‘sex-fiend’. Using your first name is a good idea but a better one is to use a creative one such as ‘surfer213’ (this tells everyone that you love surfing and may attract others who share you interests) or ‘smellycat‘ (everyone wants to know why you use such a handle).
- Do not sit back and wait. Talk to everyone, anyone. Try to get involved in the topic in the main room. Send a private message to anyone who asks, ‘anyone wanna talk to me?’ or ask that yourself.
- Lastly, there’s absolutely no point in trying to be someone that you are not. Be yourself. This way, every friend that you get likes you for you. Also, keep your netiquette in mind.
These are sites, or sections of sites in which people place personal ads looking for friends and/or dates. Obviously, this is a great way to meet new people because, hey, they placed an ad didn’t they? I firmly recommend craigslist personals and, to some extent, e-pal world.
- The easiest way to use these sites, obviously, is to respond to ads that have been placed by other people. If someone is looking for a person who sounds just like you then you have probably found a friend. However, placing an ad can also be beneficial in that you specifically ask for people with certain characteristics.
- First impressions, again, are everything. Whether you’re responding to an ad or placing one, you want to impress whoever reads what you have to say so spend time working on your first words to a person.
5. Get Involved
This is the best way to develop long lasting friendships as the friendship is built up slowly and no pressure is put on it to work. By getting involved, I mean get to do something online together with other people. For example, join a forum or group and become an active member. This is bound to bring you in contact with other people and friendship is possible. Massively multiplayer games, like the impressive ogame, are a very good way to get something to do online, have fun, and meet other people.
- Do not focus on making friends but on doing whatever it is that you’re supposed to.
- Get into a team or group of people that you identify with. For example, this could be an alliance in an online game.
- Be active.
How to Start A Conversation
Surefire topics to get the conversation up and running include:
- Personal tastes – get them to talk about what they like
- What do they do for fun? This should indicate whether you have anything in common.
- Ask about their future plans, career goals, dreams, etc.
- Talking about current events always works.
- Ask about their family and friends.
- Entertainment, music and movies.
- What do they do with their holidays? Do they travel a lot?
- Ask about their job or school.
AVOID: politics, religion, and ex boyfriends and girlfriends while you still don’t know each other too well.
General Tips & Guidelines
- Use both email and IM/skype to communicate with online friends, so as to present a more comprehensive front. Sometimes what you cant say over IM is easily said in a long email.
- Do not get too personal too fast. Generally, do not establish contact in real life for at least a few weeks. Get to know each other and determine if you will work our in real life. After some good sailing, actively strive for personal, real life, contact.
- Exchange pictures as early as possible and/or use webcams extensively so that everyone knows what to expect in the looks department.
- Do use snail mail at least once or twice. Nothing can be more personal or exciting as waiting for something in the mail.
- Always remember that you’re dealing with real people who have real feelings. Keep netiquette firmly in mind.
- Do not lie. Too many online friendships are based on nothing but lies(we even have fake webcams). If you’re looking for real friends then present the real you.
- Be careful as online friendship and dating sites have been known to be used to scam people. < a href="http://iexplor.blogspot.com/2007/04/avoiding-scams.html">Click here to learn how to avoid online scams.
- Be smart; don’t be stupid.
This post is part of the Group Writing project over at ProBlogger.