We’ve entered a new age of creating online friendships, and many are embracing them now more than ever before. Those in our online circles can provide tremendous support, and online communities make it easier to find people we connect with and who have similar interests or identities.

Of course, meeting people digitally poses many new questions: How do we find these friends? What are the social expectations? If you’re curious about how to meet new people online, here are a few guidelines!

First, decide what kind of people you want to meet. Do you want to meet fellow creatives? Tennis players? Doctors? Find where your online community gathers! There’s a forum or circle for every type of person and interest. Your community could be on Facebook, Twitter, or another site. Join those platforms and start finding your people by searching for hashtags or looking at groups to join.

Second, respond to people’s posts, send messages, and participate in online events. A great way to make new friends is by showing an interest. In the online environment, this means interacting virtually. Don’t be shy. Respond to what people are saying or send them personal messages. Ask questions to extend the conversation and learn more about someone. Or, jump into some open online events (even locally hosted ones!) to learn something new and meet new people!

Third, don’t feel pressured to make your online circle your new life. It’s possible to get a little too invested in your online community and lose track of your in-person pals. But, in many ways, that doesn’t make online friendships much different from nonvirtual ones. Keeping your virtual friendships casual once you’ve established a connection is just like any friendship; communication is key.

Lastly, don’t give out personal information — ever. It’s standard protocol for online friends to avoid talking about personal details, such as their last name, address, family members’ names, where they work, etc. If your new online “friend” starts pestering you to learn this information (they may even pretend it’s for a good reason), don’t trust them. You may want to have video calls and interact with an online friend for years before ever meeting in person.

We hope this guide helps you make the most of your online adventure! Happy virtual mingling!

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