How I Used Online Tools to Make Real Friends Online
“Bloom where you’re planted” is a rather common piece of advice given to young people. I remember people telling me that all the way through high school, university, and at every job fair I went to. And while there’s nothing wrong with this expression per se, different people from different cultures put their own meaning into it.
For example, a Russian equivalent of the saying means, essentially, building your career in your hometown. But what if you’re not one to settle where you were born?
The Cost of Freedom of Movement
I’ve always considered myself a free spirit. That’s why to me “bloom where you’re planted” means taking a full advantage of the opportunities around you. Besides, who can decide where you get “planted” better than yourself? In fact, nowadays you can become a digital nomad — “plant” yourself wherever you want and change your location as often as you like.
Sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Well, living a life of a remote worker also means that you’ll have to build your life around a new place every single time, too. If you’ve decided to take on that path, you probably already have an idea of how to earn your living , but just having a job isn’t going to make your life complete.
Friends to the Rescue
Being far away from your family and the life you’re accustomed to doesn’t come as easy as one might think. The good news is, having the right people around you helps a lot. One way to do it is to buy airplane tickets for your friends to come visit you in your new location.
You can also sit there and wait for them to visit you next time they go traveling. Or you can follow my steps and head over to the following online platforms to find new friends that will help you transform your new location into your new home.
Where to Find the Right People
When I first moved to Cardiff, Wales, I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands. Even having a job with an office full of lovely colleagues I’d still spend half my time browsing the web or moving things in my room. Finding people to hang out with wasn’t the problem, the really difficult part was finding someone that I could truly connect with. Funnily enough, things got better once I changed the way I used Facebook.
Two main aspects of the platform that can help you make new connections are Facebook groups and Events. When you move to a new city, have a look through active Facebook communities in the area and browse local events. Not only you can make real life friends that way, but also discover new networking and work opportunities, as well as learn something useful.
For me, Cardiff Photography Club became all of those things. I found people with similar interests to mine who are eager to meet and share their knowledge with others. Group members also regularly share their works, so this community has become a great source of inspiration for me, both personally and professionally.
There are many advantages to using Facebook to find like-minded people. At the same time, if your page contains any sort of sensitive or personal information, you might not want to add people that you’ve just met to your Friend list. In that case, I would suggest heading to Couchsurfing.
The platform offers you pretty much the same deal: search for your city and you’ll find a number of groups and local events. Once you become more local and get to know the surroundings, don’t forget to return the favor. Create a weekly meet up for the network users or offer advice to fellow nomads and travelers.
Speaking of meetups, another great Facebook alternative is a website with the above-mentioned name. Once again, if you want to keep your “lifetime friends” and your new friends separate, this website gives you a perfect opportunity to do so.
Unlike Couchsurfing, Meetup focuses less on the travel aspect and more on bringing people together locally. You can search for events happening within 100 miles of the place you’re based in, which gives you a perfect opportunity to learn more about the surroundings.
I found that one of the most popular Meetup communities around Cardiff was Adventure Activity South Wales. Currently, it has almost 3,000 members and their gatherings are both regular and recurring. I don’t consider myself a very sporty person, but I didn’t hesitate for a minute to join the group. While my engagement with them wasn’t as high as that of Cardiff Photography Club, this online community helped me expand my friend circle and get involved in activities that I never considered joining before.
4. Alternative Dating Apps
I might sound unconventional here, but if you find that none of the previously discussed options work for you, refer to this last point and try some of the alternative dating apps out.
Before you completely dismiss this one without giving it a chance, remember: just like not every person goes on Tinder looking to hook up , not every dating app is designed to serve the same purpose — like Meet My Dog, a website that brings together local dog owners. Check out our list of alternative dating apps where we gathered more examples of online tools that can help you find real life friends and people with the same interests in a new city.
How to Make New Friends Offline
With the many platforms designed specifically to help you meet new people online making friends can become overwhelming. If you ever find yourself thinking that you’re tired of browsing the web in search of the right kind of people, remember that you can always just get outside your house and meet them offline.
Easier said than done? Maybe. I’m not going to tell you to join a sports club and look for friends there. But useless cliches aside, there are still a few things you could do that will put you in a situation where you’re likely to meet the kind of people you’re looking for.
Volunteer for something you care about
Pretty self-explanatory: there’s bound to be a charity or a shelter that could use your help and passion. Chances are, it’s full of people just like you.
Get a part-time job
Sure, you probably don’t need a job. If you’re a remote worker, you already have one. At the same time, when you work online/freelance, it can get pretty lonely. A little gig on the side can be beneficial in more than one way. It’ll bring more money in, fill in your spare time, and bring more social interaction into your life.
Join a community class
Imagine if you were searching for Facebook groups and events offline. Your new city will probably have a variety of art classes and creative workshops you could join. In my experience, it’s always worth heading to a local library and ask for information when you move to a new place.
Get Yourself Out There
Whether it’s speaking to someone at a salsa class for the first time or creating a profile on Couchsurfing, the most difficult thing about meeting new people is making the first step. And if you’re anything like me, no matter how many times you approach new people it feels both terrifying and thrilling at the same time.
They say it’s always better to learn from other people’s experiences before you go through with your own. Having shared some of my experiences with you, I hope you’re now more confident in making real life connections with the help of the online tools mentioned above.
What kind of experience do you have with meeting real life friends online? What online tools helped you find people with similar interests on the internet? Or maybe you don’t believe in making friends online at all? Please, share your stories and opinions with us in the comments below!
Image Credits: Standret/Shutterstock
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