Social media can often get a bad rap for its addictive qualities or how it brings out nasty interactions because people feel they canhide behind their devices. However, if used well, social media can be a great tool and resource to help you network and build a community of great friends. Here are some tips to help you navigate networking opportunities and cultivate meaningful online friendships.
#1 – Join Groups and Pages Based on Your Interests
On Facebook, you can join groups based on your interests. For example, if you like to read, join a book club group. If you like to make crafts, join a buy-and-sell crafting group. There is a plethora of Facebook groups to choose from, ranging from politics to fashion to fans of a series, where you can interact with other people who share your interests. You can sit back and observe the conversation, or you can join the discussion and share your opinions. Groups are a fun way to connect with others and expand on your interests.
You can also follow pages on Instagram that align with your passions. When following this page, engage in the comments and take a look at who also comments on the page. You may develop a friendship purely out of the shared love for something.
#2 – Follow Mutual Friends
You can find new friends online by taking a look at your suggested follower list highlighting whom you share mutual friends with. Also, see who your friends are tagging in their group posts and give their friends a follow. The goal is not to follow everyone in sight; instead, follow and connect with people you want to form a friendship with. Use the quantity-over-quality mindset.
#3 – Reach Out
Once you follow someone new, reach out to them. When you reach out, introduce yourself and mention what you have in common or who the mutual connection is. If you are both in the same national organization, like NeW, say so. If you have a mutual friend through school or work, let them know. Taking the first step in a friendship can be scary, but it can lead to wonderful things.
#4 – Be Intentional
The Harvard Business Review reminds us that just because you became friends with someone online, doesn’t mean your friendship isn’t important. Like in-person friendships, be intentional with your online friendships. Set a goal to check in with your online friends two or three times a month. Maybe schedule a time to FaceTime or video call your online friends one or two times a month. People gravitate towards others who build them up and intentionally reach out.
#5 – Engage with Friends
Interacting with your friends frequently on social media is key to expanding your friendship. Take time to encourage your friends by commenting on their posts and build each other up. If you see a post on social media that says “tag a bestie who…”, tag your friend in the comments. If you see a funny meme, send it to your friend. Showing engagement shows you care.
#6 – Promote Their Achievements
Did your friend get an op-ed published? Did they get featured in their school newspaper or on their school’s social media page? Did they achieve something great? Share the post to your Instagram or Facebook stories and tag them or retweet it on Twitter. They might just do the same thing for you! Promoting each other’s successes online is a great way to support your online friends.
Never let time be an excuse for why you do not pursue a friendship, in-person or online. People make time for what they care about. Be the type of person you want to attract. People appreciate those who live authentically both on and off social media.
Erika Head is a NeW Chapter Leader and the NeW Fall 2022 Communications Intern.