11 Ways to be Popular (that most people never heard about)

secrets of popular people

What are the hidden principles behind why some people are so popular?

Luckily, there’s an entire industry built around popularity: The movie industry. Movie creators know exactly how to make a character popular (or unpopular).

By studying highly popular Hollywood creations like superheroes, we can unveil the secrets how to be popular and learn how to adapt these principles to ourselves.

What is Popularity?

We define a popular person as someone who is admired, appreciated, loved and is someone who others want to hang out with. We recommend that you first define what popularity means to you. If you don’t, you may come to realize that you’ve lost sight of what you were working towards (and why you wanted it) in the first place.

Once you have defined popularity for yourself, it is important to set measurable goals. Measurable goals are quantitative goals that you can easily track as you make progress. These goals can include planning to spend time with a specific number of people each week or having a certain number of people contact you. While having more people calling you each week won’t necessarily make you happier, it will be a good benchmark by which you can measure your progress.

Ready? Great! Let’s uncover the 11 secrets that you should master if you want to become a popular person.

1. Be more popular by being helpful while maintaining a high social value

One of the biggest reasons superheroes are so popular is that they always help others out in a high-value way. They offer their help because they are good at what they do and can do things that other people can’t.

Like a superhero, becoming a person who helps others is something that will boost your popularity. You might not be able to fly or shoot spider webs out of your wrists, but there are plenty of things you can do that others will find helpful.

However, there’s a risk involved in being helpful– it has to be done in the right way. We all know at least one person who tries too hard to make friends by going out of their way to offer assistance. So why is doing favors sometimes good and other times almost repulsive?

Well, people notice when someone is being helpful just to make others like them. That person needs something in return (for example, friendship) and this is where the term “needy” comes from. Superheroes don’t help people as a means to an end; they help people out of a genuine concern for their well-being.

Make sure to distinguish between different forms of helpfulness– what are you offering and why? Is your offer conveying that your time is more or less important than the other person’s time? Let’s take a look at two scenarios:

  1. You are great at computers and help someone out with a technical problem they can’t solve on their own. (High-value help)
  2. You help someone out with writing a report in a field you both master in hopes that they will ask you to hang out with them. (Low-value help)

In the first scenario, you are showing that you value the other person’s time by offering help with something they can’t do by themselves, or that you can do more easily than they can. This is high-value help.

In the second scenario, however, you are offering to do something the other person could have done with the same effort as you– not because you believe they have a genuine need for your help, but because you want something in return (friendship). The intention behind your offer is what makes this an example of low-value help.  This type of offer can result in three potential negative outcomes:

  1. The person assumes you think you are more capable than they are of writing the report, and may be offended.
  2. The person assumes your time must not be very valuable (i.e. you don’t have anything better to do) and may try to take advantage of you in the future.
  3. The person assumes you are desperate for friendship by offering to do something for them that they don’t need help with (i.e. you’re needy) and is uninterested in spending time with you as a result.

Let’s be clear: often, part of being a good friend means offering to do things your friends could do just as easily as an act of kindness or simply to help.

For example, offering to do your friend’s dishes (even though they could easily do their own dishes) because they’ve had a stressful week does not make you needy– it makes you a good friend. It is not necessarily what you are offering, but the intention behind your offer, that determines whether it is of high or low social value.

Read more: How to increase your social value.

2. Be the Glue

Do you have friends who don’t know each other? This is a great opportunity for you tie them together. Now, you have the chance to be the one who connects people, and this will serve to both expand your social circle and position you in the center. The most popular people are the glue that holds their social circles together.

When you have plans to meet a group of friends for a social outing, make it a habit of inviting someone who hasn’t met everyone in the group yet (but be sure to check with the host of the event first!).

Arrange frequent parties and get-togethers for all of your friends. If you encounter someone you know while spending time with another friend, remember to introduce them to each other; otherwise, your friend will stay quiet and you will come off as socially unskilled.

Not only will your friends appreciate the opportunity to meet new people, but you will also be perceived as a more social person. A psychological principle called social proof tells us that we look at others when we try to evaluate things and people around us. When all of our friends have an iPhone, we will be more inclined towards buying one too because it seems to be the right thing to do.

Likewise, when people see others making friends with you, they will be more inclined towards making friends with you as well because that seems to be the right thing to do.

3. Be Genuinely Nice (But Don’t be a Coward)

At first glance, “being nice” sounds too obvious to even mention as a piece of advice. But this is a tricky subject, as “nice” people often seem to lack friends, while the “cool” people or “bad guys” become the popular ones. How does that happen?

The answer is that we often describe people who are afraid of conflicts as being nice. An example would be a person who notices his friend drinking too much, but doesn’t want to bring up the subject. So, he lets the drinking continue, thereby risking the health of his friend. This is not an act of kindness, but one of harmful passivity out of fear of conflict.

What you should do is become genuinely nice. Your life decisions should be based on your moral code and an understanding of what will do the most good for the most people. A legitimately nice person would go through the talk with his friend who drinks too much.

Most superheroes are genuinely nice people. But let’s look at some “nice” things that superheroes don’t do:

  • Superheroes don’t do everything people ask them to do just because they are “nice.” There’s a fine line between “nice” and “pushover,” and it’s important to make sure that agreeing to do things for people won’t be a detriment to you or your other obligations before consenting to do them. Superheroes are rarely pushovers, and saying “no” when you need to will not make you less of a genuinely nice person.
  • Superheroes don’t avoid tough conversations. Like in the example above, turning a blind eye to a serious problem that could end up bringing harm to someone is not nice, it’s cowardly. And cowardly is one thing superheroes are not. But you don’t have to be rude or insensitive to have a tough conversation with someone; click here to learn how to navigate a difficult conversation.
  • Superheroes aren’t afraid to disagree with people. Although some people feel that disagreeing with others is rude, the truth is there’s nothing wrong with having and sharing your own opinions. There are certainly rude ways to disagree, but disagreement in and of itself is not innately rude. Verbally agreeing with everything someone says (when you are mentally disagreeing) will take you from “nice” to “pushover” faster than Superman can save Lois Lane.

If these are things that genuinely nice people don’t do, then what are some characteristics of genuinely nice people?

First, genuinely nice people listen. Has anyone ever asked you how you’re doing, only to act like they’re not paying attention to your response? Or what about when you share a problem or concern you have with someone, and they immediately start talking about themselves? These are some of the easiest ways to tell if someone is “fake nice” and a genuinely nice person does the opposite.

People want to spend time with people who care about them, and this empathy and concern are key to be a popular person. Listening to the things people share with you and paying attention to them are critical components of being genuinely nice.

Here’s an article about 20 ways to spot a fake friend from a good friend.

Ultimately, the biggest difference between a genuinely nice person and a fake nice person is the motivation behind their niceness. If you are nice to someone because you truly care about them, then you are genuinely nice. However, if you are having to constantly try to act nice because you want people to like you, then it may be time to reevaluate your intentions.

4. It’s Easy to be Easygoing

As humans, our decisions are determined by the way we balance our natural desires (the things we want and enjoy) and our moral codes (our personal beliefs about right and wrong). We do things like spending time with friends to induce the release of chemicals in our brains that bring us pleasure. It is in our nature to want to have fun and feel loved, needed, and liked, and these are the desires that make us social beings.

This explains why it’s true that you will be more popular if people enjoy spending time with you. True friendships are rarely formed between people who don’t enjoy spending time together.

One way to make sure your friends enjoy spending time with you (thereby increasing your popularity) is to be easygoing. It’s important to have a positive attitude and avoid constant complaining.

Sharing your problems with others is a good thing– it’s actually a cornerstone in making close friends. But there is a time and place to have these serious discussions, and while repeatedly talking about problems people already know about might have a therapeutic effect on you, constant negativity will make it difficult for your friends to enjoy spending time with you.

Other characteristics of an easygoing person include:

  • Having a good sense of humor; not becoming easily offended at jokes
  • Willingness to try new things; not insisting on following the same routines every single time
  • Flexibility in making plans (and changing plans!)
  • The ability to have fun even it means looking silly; not refusing to have fun because you might embarrass yourself

If you think of the most popular people you know, you’ll probably notice that none of them are uptight. Being an easygoing person will make people more comfortable around you and allow them to have a good time, and this is sure to boost your popularity.

5. The Importance of Being a Good Listener (And Why You’re Probably Not as Good as You Think)

While the importance of being a good listener is widely known, most people don’t listen very well. Many of us think that we are far better listeners than we really are.

There’s an explanation for this: When your mind is somewhere else, you don’t hear what you don’t hear and you won’t know what you missed. Hence, it feels like you are a better listener than you really are.

The biggest cause of the “bad listener epidemic” is simple: Many people are so busy relating to what the other person is saying and thinking about how they’re going to respond that they don’t actually pay attention to everything that’s being said. In short, they’re handling the conversation selfishly by focusing more on themselves than the other person.

Even worse, some interrupt their friends while they are talking just because they have to tell them something they relate to. This causes people to feel ignored and can be very damaging to a friendship.

If this is something you find yourself doing, it’s okay; this doesn’t make you a bad person or a bad friend, it simply means you need to improve your social listening skills

Paying attention when other people are speaking (and making an effort to really be present in the conversation instead of in your head planning your response) is the first step toward becoming a good social listener. When you are listening, show them that you are listening by nodding and making affirmatory comments such as “Yeah,” “Mhmm,” “Oh wow,” etc.

It’s also good to use your facial expressions to react appropriately when someone is speaking; for example, frown if they tell you something bad, smile if they tell you something good, laugh if something is funny, etc. This will convey to the other person that you are truly listening to them and will make them more inclined to share things with you in the future. On the other hand, if people get the feeling that you’re not listening when they’re talking to you, there’s very little chance that your social popularity will increase.

Another way to show that you pay attention when people are speaking is to follow up on things people have told you in previous conversations. This requires remembering what people have shared with you so that you can ask about it again in the future.

For example, if the last time you spoke with Lisa she shared with you that her nephew had broken his leg, ask her how her nephew is doing the next time you see her. Not only will this show her you were paying attention during your last conversation, it will also convey that you have a genuine care and concern for her.

Remember, popular people are those who care about their friends and their well-being. Being a good listener is a crucial part of becoming popular.

6. Become Good at Something (It’s easier than most people think)

We are hardwired to admire people who are really good at something. If you think about it, it would be difficult explaining to an alien why there are thousands of people going to concerts, crying and screaming, waiting for hours just to catch a glimpse of someone because he or she is a good singer. Or why we value someone to millions of dollars because that person is good at a sport.

Undoubtedly, there is a connection between skill and popularity. It seems like the skill can be almost anything; even our favorite superheroes have their own unique areas of expertise.

What do you enjoy doing? Have you ever done something that people have told you that you are good at? It’s time to improve that skill.

Perhaps you can even earn your living on performing what you are good at. In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell suggests that there is no such thing as “being born without a skill,” but it requires thousands of hours of practice to truly become an expert at it. Once you have identified something you like doing and think you can be good at, invest the time to get better at it.

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what you’re good at it. Often we are blind to our own gifts and abilities, but our family members and close friends can see them  clearly. Asking people you are close to what they believe you are good at is a quick way to get a better idea of your gifts and talents.

Another way to find out what your natural inclinations are is to take a detailed personality test. This personality test is known to be very accurate and provides great insight into your personality-specific talents.

Once you have decided which skill you would like to improve, the following resources can be very helpful:

  • Personal development/self-help books relating to the area you are seeking to improve
  • Working with a mentor who is an expert in your area of interest
  • Free local or online classes, such as those at Coursera.org
  • Paid local tutoring or classes
  • Joining a local Facebook group pertaining to your skill/interest
  • Set goals using these goal-setting sheets from Develop Good Habits

Not only will your skills, talents, and hobbies increase your popularity in your social sphere, improving your career-related abilities will improve your popularity in your workplace as well.

According to one study, employees’ work-related knowledge, skills, and abilities are directly related to their popularity in the workplace, which is in turn directly related to their career satisfaction.1

As you can see, increasing your talents can be beneficial in many ways. Your skills and talents allow you to provide value the people around you, which we will discuss in the next section.

7. The Power of Positivity

Popular people are seldom needy; they don’t need anything from others to be happy. They don’t hang out with friends because they would feel lonely otherwise, they hang out with friends because they want to have fun with them. They give their friends positive energy instead of taking energy from them. They make sure that their friends enjoy their time together and focus on the well-being of others, instead of focusing only on their own needs.

The truth is that people who complain about life and are more pessimistic have fewer friends. Even worse, since people tend spend time with others who are similar to them, the friends they do have are typically also pessimistic.

As a rule of thumb, make an effort not to say anything negative until you have first said at least five positive things. This can help you prevent others from viewing you as pessimistic and make you a more uplifting person to spend time with.

8. The True Danger of Talking Behind Someone’s Back

Have you ever seen a superhero movie in which the superhero beat the bad guy by whispering something rude about him into someone else’s ear?

No?

This is because talking behind someone’s back will never solve your problem.

The bad guy goes behind the superhero’s back by trying to persuade others to come to his side, but in the end his efforts are for naught. The superhero, on the other hand, confronts his enemies directly and addresses the problem face-to-face.

This isn’t a coincidence; movie producers and comic book writers know that talking behind someone’s back is an ineffective way of getting what you want. It’s a great way of telling the audience: “This is a bad person.”

Popular people understand that talking behind people’s backs will cause them to quickly lose friends; when you speak negatively about other people, the person you’re talking to can reasonably assume you would speak negatively about them when they’re not around as well. Because relationships grow deeper the more we reveal to each other, it’s important for your friends to be comfortable confiding in you without worrying that you will talk about them to others.

Many people attempt to justify their gossipy behavior by saying “I’m not talking behind anyone’s back, ‘I’m just telling the truth.'” While this may be the case, it is still not an acceptable excuse; some issues need to be addressed with the person in question and that person only. There is a difference between simply explaining a situation to a friend and speaking badly about someone, and it is very important to watch what you’re saying about people behind their backs.

9. Depreciation in General

You should not just avoid talking down on others, you should also avoid talking down on things in general. If you depreciate a TV-series, a part of town, a nationality, or an artist, you risk breaking rapport with the ones that you talk with.

This does not mean you can’t disagree with someone, but it does mean that your disagreement should be respectful. For example, saying, “I’m not a big fan of that show,” is a respectful way to disagree, while saying “That show is so stupid. I don’t see how anyone can watch it,” is a depreciating way to disagree.

If you have a habit of being openly depreciating about things, you will likely find yourself regularly meeting people who don’t share your point of view– and there’ a good chance they will be offended. As a rule of thumb, avoid expressing negative opinions around people you’ve just met.

There’s one exception. According to the rules of interpersonal psychology, you will build rapport with a negative person if you also act negatively. Our advice is to be careful not to get carried away in negativity though, as you will be perceived as a negative person and attract other negative people while simultaneously causing positive people to avoid you.

When you are around your closest friends, you should express yourself whenever you feel the need to. However, if your negative expressions have become a part of your jargon, you risk tiring even your best friends.

A common fear is that if you don’t express negative opinions, you will be considered to be an opinion-less zombie. However, the reality is the opposite: You will not influence others or change anyone’s mind by being negative about things. People who are successful at influencing others tend to behave in a different way: They tell stories about experiences without adding their own opinion, to make people make up their own mind.

You can never tell anyone to have the same opinion as you do; you can only give them the foundation to make up their own mind.

10. Build Relationships at Work and School

Many people make the mistake of avoiding social relationships at their school or workplace because those are “places to work, not places to socialize.”

This, however, is a detrimental mindset to have. People now spend more time than ever at their places of work and education, and refusing to build relationships with the people whom you spend so much time around will jip you out of quite a few very beneficial social experiences.

As we mentioned before, the knowledge, skills, and abilities that people possess in relation to their careers directly correlates with their popularity, and their popularity directly correlates with their levels of career satisfaction. This makes it clear that the more popular you are at school or work, the happier you will be when you’re there.1

Additionally, experts tell us that people with healthy social relationships at school and work are more likely to perform better and be more successful, further reinforcing the importance of building social relationships with classmates and co-workers (How Much Co-worker Socializing is Good for Your Career? by Jacquelyn Smith).

11. Dealing With Conflicts (And Why Confrontation is OK)

Popular people have a certain way of dealing with conflicts; in other words, they actually deal with them instead of letting everything slide because they’re afraid of confrontation.

(Is someone making fun of you? Click here to learn how to deal with dominating people.)

Popular people understand that confrontation is not actually a bad thing. How many lives would Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Mr. Incredible (I could go on) have saved if they were never willing to confront anyone?

The answer is zero. All of Gotham City (*cough* New York *cough*) would be obliterated.

Although confrontation is often associated with aggression and bullying, when done the right way it is a crucial part of forming–and more importantly, maintaining– healthy, lasting friendships.

Think about the word “peacemaking.” Notice how it is different from the word “peacekeeping.”

Peacekeeping means ignoring every issue that arises so as to avoid conflict, and keep the peace (for now). But the problem with peacekeeping is that it can never be permanent, and often what you consider to be “peace” is actually turmoil underneath a blanket of passivity.

Eventually, all of the little (and big) things that you let slide in the past will add up, and one or both of the people involved will explode. Things will get messy–far, far messier than they would have if you had decided to be a peacemaker instead.

To be a peacemaker requires taking action– after all, you are making peace, which implies that it was not there before and changes must be made for it to occur. Unlike peacekeeping, peacemaking does not result in an explosion; it is the catalyst for a controlled change rather than a cataclysmic one.

In short, confrontation is necessary if you are ever to achieve true peace in your relationships.

Popular people know how important it is to work on their friendships, and they understand that confrontation and conflict resolution is necessary. Read How to Navigate Difficult Conversations to find out how popular people address problems they’re having with their friends.

Popularity is something that most people strive for in their social relationships, and there are plenty of reasons why it can be a beneficial status to hold. Superheroes are the embodiment of popularity, and we can learn a lot about what popularity looks like and how we can achieve it by looking at the things they do (and don’t do).

Which superhero is your favorite, and what aspect of his/her popularity are you working towards the most? Share your popularity goals in the comments!

References:

  1. Li, Yan. 2016. Does popularity at work matter? Examining the effects on career satisfaction through self-evaluation and abilities. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 44(10). 1601-1612.

 

How to have a conversation without asking too many questions

Make conversation

It’s easy to get stuck in a conversation by just asking question upon question. And all you get is short one-word answers. It often ends up feeling more like an interview than a conversation.

It can feel so exhausting to carry that load in every conversation. In this guide, you’ll learn how to have a conversation without asking too many questions. Here are my best tips.

How to keep a conversation going without asking questions

You can also use a compliment to keep a conversation going.

Here are some examples of compliments you can use early on in a conversation:

  • “I love your watch!”
  • “Your dog is so cute!”
  • “That scarf matches your hair color so well!”

Read more about how to keep a conversation going over here.

The two main reasons why a conversation dies out

  1. One person doesn’t know what to say next. This could be due to nervousness, or because it feels like there’s nothing more to say.
  2. The conversation is not very interesting and one of you doesn’t feel like making conversation anymore.

1. How to make the other person know what to say

To make it easy for the other person to say something, you can ask a related question to your last statement. Don’t just ask a random question.

“Yes, it was great visiting France. (statement) What’s your favorite country? (related and open question)

2. How to make the conversation more interesting by keeping it balanced

We are more interested in ourselves and our own lives and experiences than other people’s lives and experiences. This creates a problem when two individuals meet. They are both mainly interested in themselves.

A person will find a conversation interesting when they get to talk about something they can relate to. No matter how interesting you are and how many adventures you have been on, people will get bored if they can’t relate to what you’re saying.

As a rule of thumb, you and the person you are talking to should talk roughly half the time each.

If there are three people in the same conversion, everyone should talk one-third each, and so on.

Read more about how to make a conversation more interesting over here.

How to get to know someone by gravitating toward mutual interests

As soon as you have found something that you both like, make sure to talk more about it.

When two people feel similar enough, friendships will emerge.

To find mutual interests, you often need questions. But not just any question, you need to ask your questions with the purpose of finding out more. And base your questions off of clues you already got about what you might have in common.

Using questions with a purpose like this, you don’t get stuck just asking random questions. Each question gives you more information which takes you closer to your goal (a mutual interest).

Read more here about how to find mutual interests and commonalities.

How to start a conversation without asking a question

One trick I like is to use a positive statement instead of a question to get a conversation going. If I get a positive response to it, I know that the other person is open to a conversation.

Examples of making positive statements instead of questions to start a conversation:

  • “Lovely weather today!”
  • “That food looks amazing!”
  • “Haha, look at that cute dog!”

You can practice making positive statements on your own. Just take a look around you and see what you like. When you find something you like, make a positive statement about it, like:

  • “Oh, I like that plant.”
  • “I love how you arranged your desk.”

Starting a conversation with someone that you don’t know can be difficult if you feel nervous. The nervousness blocks your brain and you can’t come up with anything to say.

Meanwhile, it can be super-easy to come up with things to say when you are around people you know.

First, you need a purpose for talking to someone. I like to start off by making a statement and following it up with a question.

The rules for the statements and questions when talking to someone you just met are the following:

Make statements or questions about something that is closely related to the situation you are in.

Use open questions to make the conversation less “interview-y”

Open questions are questions that you cannot reply yes or no to. For example, ask “What did you think about Paris?” instead of “Did you like Paris? This is also a great way to avoid awkward silence.

This rule will minimize the risk of coming off as weird. It will actually make it easier for you to come up with things to say when you start a conversation.

Start by saying “Hello” and give a natural smile.

Here are a few examples of things you can say. All of the examples follow the rule of being closely related to the situation that you are in, and you can use them in many different situations:

  • I’ve never tried the pizza here. It looks amazing! (Statement at a pizza place)
  • Coffee tastes great today! (Statement at work, in the kitchen)
  • How do you know the people here? (Open question at any sort of social event)
  • This is a nice place. What brings you here? (Statement + open question, works in most social events at a nice venue)

When (or if) you get a positive response, you know that the other person is open to talking some more.

Then you can do any of the following:

  1. Make a statement from the reply that you got (And follow up with a new open question)
  2. If you don’t come up with a follow-up question, ask something closely related, such as:
    • “How has your day been?”
    • “What’s going on this weekend?”
    • “Is this how you usually spend your Wednesdays?”

Pay attention to what the person is saying, and ask follow-up questions:

You: -How has your day been?

Person: -It’s been good, I woke up at 10 AM today

You: -Nice, late night yesterday?

Click here to read more about how to start a conversation.

Use these techniques to avoid asking too many questions in a conversation

Share equally much about yourself

As soon as you notice the other person talking more than you, make some statements or tell something about yourself. If you ask too many questions without letting the other person know something about you, they will feel uncomfortable.

Use the “summarizing technique”

When the other person is taking a pause, quickly summarize in one sentence what the person has been talking about. This is a great way for someone to feel understood.

Example:

Person: So I don’t know if I should study or travel to Asia. I like both options.

You: You feel stuck between two good alternatives.

Person: Yes, exactly!

You could also try to mirror the social energy level of the person you are talking to by talking as fast or slow as they are.

Let me know about your conversation problems in the comments below. I’ll try to give you my best advice!

How to Make Friends Online – The Ultimate Guide

Making Friends Online

Making friends online can be one of the easiest and most rewarding ways to enrich your social life. But for many, online friendship is just a blank page. In this guide, we got you covered.

You will get our best tips on:

  1. Where and how to find new friends online
  2. How to start a conversation online that leads to you meeting up
  3. 7 Mistakes that make you seem needy or desperate in online communication
  4. How to make an online conversation more interesting
  5. How to connect and bond with someone online
  6. Making an online profile that draws new friends to you
  7. Choosing who to contact online
  8. How to choose the right platform to make friends online


Let’s get started!

1. Where and how to find new friends online

To find friends online who are more like you, the first step is to find the right network for you. By choosing a network with like-minded people, you will find more people who interest you, and others will also be more interested in you.

Here are my best tips on where to find like-minded friends online:

A. Smaller communities are almost always better than larger ones

The reason I recommend joining a small community is that it’s a lot easier to make a connection there. In a small community, each member is important to keep the community alive and people will want to include you as much as possible. In a large community, you blend in with the crowd and people might not even recognize you unless you’re a long-time member.

B. Are you interested in gaming with other people online?

Gaming with others online is one of the easiest ways to make friends online. The reason I say it’s easy is because you always have something to talk about – the game you both like. And you can even play it together if it’s an online game!

And if there’s ever a lull in your gaming conversations, you can turn it more personal and get to know your gaming friends.

In almost every game there’s a community you can join. Smaller communities are usually better. Look up if they have a Discord server you can join, or even better, join a clan if it’s a multiplayer game. There are usually groups both for casual and hardcore gamers.

C. Niche interest groups on social media

Personally, I’m really into edible plants and orchids. So, I joined a few local groups about those subjects on Facebook. And I’ve found many friends through these groups that I know would be happy to have me visit them. We could talk about plants all day together.

I’ve done something similar on Instagram, where I have an account only dedicated to one of my interests (plants), and I mostly follow other plant-nerds.

After some time, maybe a few days or weeks, you start getting to know each other by asking questions and liking each other’s pictures.

Then, if you want to meet, it’s perfectly natural to send them a message and ask them if they would like to eat out together/have a beer and talk about your common interest. I’ll describe it in more detail further down.

D. Mobile apps or websites to find friends online

If you like online dating, this can be a great alternative. It’s fast and easy, but the downside is that it’s also “fast and easy” to just stop responding.

So, there’s an element of rejection here that can be tough to deal with for some. But if you know you can take a couple of “no’s” before you find a new friend, it’s worth a shot.

2. How to start a conversation online that leads to you meeting up

Here are examples of how you can start a conversation on different online platforms and also how to meet up IRL.

A. How to start a conversation in a Facebook niche interest groups

In a Facebook group, the main activity is usually to share pictures or content with the group. Make sure to engage regularly on those pieces of content, leave a like and a comment or question.

The comment can be short and positive, like: “Nice!” or “I love that!”. A question is even better if there’s something you are genuinely curious about in the shared content.

After a few days to a few weeks of being active in the group, you’ll start to recognize people (and they’ll recognize you). That means it’s a good time to take some more initiative.

Often there’s already some sort of regular meetup you can join, but if there aren’t, there are alternatives.

For example, you could arrange a local meeting at a café to discuss your mutual interest for anyone in your group who’s interested. Or you could write privately to someone and ask if they want to meet up and discuss your interest.

Read our complete step-by-step guide about where and how to find friends who are like you on Facebook.

B. How to start a conversation on Instagram

Instagram is quite similar to Facebook, but there’s no clear group to follow there. Instead, I recommend you follow people who share some sort of niche interest with you.

For example, I’m into growing my own food, so I follow some local enthusiasts in my city. I regularly like their posts, and leave a reflection or question about it if I come up with anything.

Now, we know each other a bit better, and it’s only natural to message them (if I want to meet them). So, for example, I could send a message like this:

“Hi, I love what you’ve done with your garden! I’m especially curious about your fig tree. I’d love to visit your garden sometime in the coming weeks if you’re open to it?”

Or

“Hi, I’m so curious about your orchids. Can I buy you lunch this weekend? I’d love to learn more about your collection!”

It doesn’t need to be more complicated like that. Not everyone’s going to say yes, but from my experience, a surprising number of people would LOVE to meet up with someone like-minded.

C. How to start a conversation on Discord

On Discord, you’re usually part of a “chat group”. It could be a large group of several hundred people, or it could be a small group of friends who game together. (I recommend the latter, smaller groups are better to make friends, but large ones can work too.)

So when you’ve joined a group, it’s not so much about starting a conversation. It’s more about participating in the conversations that come up. At first, you can talk mostly about the game your playing and ask for advice on it. But after a while, once you’ve got to know your online gaming friends a bit better, you can start to ask more personal questions.

And from there, you can even invite just one person to play together. It’s a lot easier to get to know someone when it’s just you two. Then you also have lots to talk about the game you play, so the conversation never runs dry.

D. How to start a conversation on a “friend dating”-app or website

First, you need to write your own profile. (Click here to jump down to our section about how to write an interesting online profile.)

After that, you can start reading other people’s profiles to see if you seem to have a lot in common.

When you find someone you like, it’s time to message them. (P.S. Try to message at least 5-10 people to start off, not everyone will be a good match.)

Here are some examples of how you can start a conversation on a friend dating app or website:

“Hi, how are you? I see we have a lot in common. I would love to get to know you better! Check out my profile and see if we match :)”

“Hello, I see you also love Disney movies. It would be fun to go watch the upcoming new Disney movie together at the cinema. Check out my profile to see if we match 🙂 Have a great day!”

After your first message, they’ll respond if they think you match too and it should be relatively straightforward to set up a meeting after that. You don’t need to chat too much unless you want to because you are both there to meet new friends.

Top 8 mobile apps (or websites) to find and meet friends

  1. Bumble BFF (like a dating app, but for friends)
  2. Meetup (for finding events where you meet other like-minded friends)
  3. Friender (interest-based “friend dating” app)
  4. InterPals (learn or teach a second language through casual conversation with new friends/penpals)
  5. ATLETO (if you’re looking for a friend to do your favorite sport with)
  6. Hey! VINA (for women looking for female friends)
  7. Peanut (for moms looking for other mom-friends)
  8. Meet My Dog (for dog owners wanting to meet other dog owners)


Read more here: How to start a conversation with someone online or over text/sms/chat.

3. 7 mistakes that make you seem needy or desperate in online communication

Many people are afraid of scaring people off because they seem too needy. Here are some of the biggest mistakes I often see.

A. Just throwing out one hook

What I mean by this is that you should try to keep in touch with several potential friends at the same time. That way you don’t get too attached to the outcome of any single one, because there’s always someone else you can meet up or chat with.

It also makes sure you don’t invest far more energy and feelings than the other person. This makes it so that you’re both on equal ground and neither of you feels pressured.

B. Investing more into the relationship than the other person

5 Signs that you’re investing more in the relationship than your online friend:

  1. You’re the one who starts most conversations.
  2. Your messages are almost always longer than your friend’s.
  3. You are trying to meet up repeatedly, but your friends don’t make any efforts.
  4. You’ve shared A LOT more about yourself than they have shared.
  5. You always respond instantly while they often take some time to respond.

C. Expecting (or demanding) instant replies

Most people who work or study don’t have time (or energy) to answer their messages within hours of receiving them. Sometimes it can take a couple of days to get a reply, and in most cases, that’s perfectly normal and fine. Especially in new friendships.

The problems start if you get whiny or complain that they don’t reply quick enough. That signals to the other person that you’re needy or very demanding which is a big turn off. It shouldn’t feel like a chore to reply quickly just to avoid conflict.

If you feel anxious that someone isn’t replying, take a step back and focus on other people in your life.

D. Being too eager to meet up

When you’re trying to make friends online, it’s normal to ask if people want to meet up pretty quickly. So never be afraid to ask. But if you get a no or a maybe, take a step back and forget about meeting up for a while.

It can often be better to step back and not push the issue. Let your friend develop more of a desire to meet up with you first. Let them take some initiatives (even if it takes time).

If you get impatient, ask someone else instead. That way your potential friend who doesn’t want to meet up right now won’t feel pressured into meeting with you. You never want someone to feel pressured to be with you because then they’ll start associating you with that bad feeling of neediness and desperation.

E. Unloading your life story on the other person without any reciprocity

Opening up is good, it’s even essential to form a close connection. But opening up needs to be mutual. If you’re the only one sharing, you are going to feel a lot closer to your friend than they feel close to you.

Make sure you also focus on getting to know the other person and open up more about yourself at an equal pace as they are.

Tip: The opposite mistake (that’s just as common) is to not open up at all. If you relate to that, here’s a great guide on how you can learn to open up to others.

F. Talking too much about yourself

Two of the most important principles to become friends with someone is to make them feel heard and appreciated. If you talk too much about yourself, you deny both those principles.

An easy rule of thumb is the 50/50 rule:

Aim to talk about as much as you listen.

By following the 50/50-rule, you make sure your friend feels heard and appreciated around you.

G. Writing long novel-like answers to your friend

This mistake goes in line with the principle of investing equally much into your online friendship. It’s not wrong to write long answers, but make sure it’s mutual and that your friend is writing about as much.

For example, if your friend replies with a few sentences, and you reply with a small novel, your friend might feel overwhelmed. It demands a lot for them to reply thoughtfully, which they might not have the time or energy for, and then that makes them avoid you or try to cut the conversation short.

My rule of thumb early on in a new friendship is this:

Keep your messages about as long as the other person’s.

That way you build your friendship on an equal basis where you both feel like you’re on the same level. You won’t feel resentful because their replies are too short, and they won’t feel pressured into writing more than they have energy for.

Finally, it’s impossible to win them all. You will get rejected and some relationships will never amount to anything. But all it takes is a deep connection with one person and you got a friend for life.

4. How to make an online conversation more interesting

The secret to making a conversation interesting is to find commonalities. A commonality could be anything from growing up in the same city, to sharing the same passion for role-playing games.

The advantage online compared to real life is that you usually know a lot more about the other person from the start. You can often read their online profile to see what interests you have in common before you even start talking.

Use that information to make your conversations more interesting.

For example, if someone is interested in the same tv-show as you, you can ask:

  • Who’s your favorite character in the show?
  • What did you first feel about the show when you saw the first episode?
  • What do you think about the latest episode?

By focusing on your common interests, the conversation becomes more interesting for both of you. And then, you start getting a connection which we’ll talk more about in the next point.

Click here to read our full guide on how to find commonalities and make interesting conversation.

5. How to connect and bond with someone online

Here’s a quick trick to make deeper conversation that helps you bond faster.

Instead of asking about the subject, example:
“Where do you live?”

Ask about their relationship to the subject, example:
“What do you think about your place of living?”

By asking about someone’s relationship to the subject, you make a deeper and more meaningful conversation. This is what I call Personal mode. When you’ve switched to personal mode, it gets easier to ask more personal questions which helps you bond even faster.

Here are some examples of even more personal questions:

  • Where do you dream of living?
  • What’s holding you back from living there today?

Note that it’s also important to share equally much about yourself to bond.

Read more about bonding with friends here:

6. Making an online profile that draws new friends to you

Once you have chosen the social media platform(s) that you will use to make friends online, it’s time to work on your profile. Your profile is an important part of the online friendship process because it is your virtual first impression– it is the first thing people will notice about you and can determine whether they have an interest in developing a friendship with you or not.

Your user name

The first step to creating an interesting profile is your username. Some social media networks require you to use your real name (like Facebook), in which case you have one less thing to worry about.

But on others, such as chat rooms and many apps, your username will be your primary identifier.

A good username is unique and tells other users something about yourself. “PizzaGirl85” is not a very original username because it tells other users nothing more than 1) you probably like pizza (but who doesn’t) and 2) 1985 was probably a significant year for you for some reason.

“SciFiAdam” is an example of a more unique and interesting username because 1) it tells other users you’re interested in science fiction, which will draw other science fiction fans to you, and 2) your name is Adam, which distinguishes you from other science fiction fans/users with “sci-fi” in their usernames.

Another tip on usernames is this: If you use or plan to use multiple sites or apps, it can be a good idea to keep the same username across the different networks. Since your username is your “Internet name,” consistency between platforms will make you recognizable and can help other users who may also use multiple sites identify you more easily (which will increase your chances of being befriended by them).

Once you have chosen a username, most sites and apps will give you the opportunity to write a bio or “About Me.” Always take advantage of the “About Me” feature. On the surface, the “About Me” section is simply a place to tell people about yourself, but in reality, this section is your “sales pitch” to potential friends.

If someone is drawn to your profile from your username or posts you’ve made in chat rooms/other online social spaces, your “About Me” will let them know if you have enough in common to make getting to know you worthwhile.

5 tips for how to write a good online profile to make friends online

  1. Include your hobbies and interests.
  2. Include any important personal information that will affect the type of friend you’d like to meet. For example, if you’re looking for friends with similar religious beliefs, share your religion in your “About Me” and state that it’s important to you. If you’d like friends the same gender, in a similar age group, or in the same geographical region, share these details about yourself.
  3. If you’ve had any interesting experiences/successes related to the hobbies and passions you’re listing, name them. For example, if you’re a runner, name some of the races you’ve run. If you’re an avid video game-player, share the names of any games you’ve gotten to “test play” for the company who made them. These details will spark the interest of people who have things in common with you and can provide information for you to bond over.
  4. Express an openness to making new friends. Ending your “About Me” with something along the lines of “I love meeting new people, so feel free to send me a message if you’d like to chat!” will make people more comfortable reaching out to you because you’ve already given them the go-ahead.
  5. Be honest about who you are and what you enjoy. Just like with face-to-face friendships, pretending to like things that you really don’t for the sake of “fitting in” will not attract the type of people you can truly bond over mutual interests with. In addition, the untruths will come to light eventually, which is sure to cause problems in the friendship.

Click here to check out our guide on being yourself.

Here is an example of an “About Me” (from our co-author, Amanda):

“My name is Amanda Haworth, and I’m 24 and married with two dogs and a cat. I love anything to do with words, and my passion for reading and writing, as well as my fascination with human psychological development, is what led me to be a teacher specializing in the early childhood years.

In addition to expressing myself through writing, I also love to express myself through other forms of creativity such as painting, sewing, and crocheting. I’m interested in pretty much anything your grandma likes (call me an old soul)– woolen socks, a fresh pot of coffee, card games, movies taking place in the WWII era, and really thick books.

I’m an introvert, but I enjoy having in-depth conversations with new people and would love to meet some other women in my age group to share life with! Feel free to send me a message if you want to chat :).”

Some things to take note of from my example:

  1. I provided my age because at the end I mentioned the desire for friendships in my own age group
  2. I listed many of my different interests so that I can find friends who have things in common with me
  3. I mentioned that I’m an introvert (so as not to attract friends who are interested in partying/other things I don’t enjoy)
  4. I expressed my desire to make friends and gave people an invitation to contact me


Once you have your username and your “About Me,” the next step is to reach out and find your friends!

7. Choosing who to contact online

Having a great social media profile will definitely help attract new people, but when it comes to making friends, you can’t just sit back and wait for them to come to you. Now it’s time to learn how to reach out and initiate contact with people you’re interested in befriending.

Most social media networks will offer some sort of “people search” that includes filters to help you narrow down your results. These filters typically consist of the general location where users reside, their approximate distance from your location, and their gender, and some networks provide the option to also filter by marital status, age, and other factors. Using these search filters to narrow your results will help you save a lot of time when looking for friends online.

In addition to searching for people to befriend, you also need to have an active presence in the site/app you are using.

Read more: How to find friends more like you.

When you first join the group/chat room/etc., make a post introducing yourself to the others. You will likely get some welcoming comments, and this is an easy way to kickstart your search for friends.

Next, maintain your presence in the virtual social sphere. If it’s a chat room, get involved in the discussions! If you’re joining a Facebook group pertaining to one of your interests, post friendly and encouraging comments on people’s pictures and posts, and make posts of your own that share your own work related to the group’s topic.

For example, if you are a member of a Facebook group for musicians in your area, comment on a video of someone playing their guitar and say, “Great job! You’re really talented,” or “Wow! I really enjoyed that! Keep it up!”

If you strike up a good conversation with someone in the group/chat room/etc., send him or her a friend request (if the site/app you are using doesn’t offer friend requests, send a direct message to continue/expand your conversation outside of the public forum).

It’s a good idea to include a personal message when sending a friend request to someone you don’t know in real life. This will allow you to explain who you are and why you’re adding them as a friend. Your message can go something like this:

“Hey [name], I’m also a member of [name of Facebook group] and I’ve really enjoyed seeing your posts about [topic]. I also love [topic] and I’d love to chat with you some more about it!”

If it’s applicable, you could also include:

  • “I think I could really learn a lot from you about [topic].”
  • “I’d love for you to take a look at [my painting/my writing/this video of me playing an instrument] and give me some pointers!”
  • “I would love to meet up sometime and [skateboard/play the saxophone/cook Italian food] together.” (Caution: It’s best to say this only after having previous discussions with the person about your mutual interest so you don’t come on too strong and scare them off).

When you begin having conversations about a specific topic in this way, often you will find that you and that person have other things in common as well. Your conversation will naturally branch off into other areas, and pretty soon you will find that you have a great new friend.

Click here for more tips on making conversation.

By choosing the best social media network for your needs, developing an interesting profile, and initiating contact with other users, you can quickly and easily meet many new people–both near and far–who share similar interests, values, opinions, and more.

8. How to choose the right platform to make friends online

As the Internet has increased in popularity, the number of social media networks has increased as well. Many have been short-lived (think MySpace and Vine), while others seem to be here to stay (like Facebook and Twitter).

Believe it or not, some social media networks are more conducive to making friends online than others, and researchers have already done the work for us to determine what those networks are.

When choosing a social media platform for the purpose of making friends, you should make sure it is

  1. Reciprocal, and
  2. Interactive

A reciprocal social media network is one that promotes mutual friendship instead of allowing one person to have access to, or “follow”, the other person without requiring the other person to “follow” back.

Twitter and Instagram are two examples of non-reciprocal social media networks. Both platforms allow a user to follow a person, but the person being followed may not necessarily follow back. This is great for allowing people to keep up with celebrities and political figures, but not so great for someone who is looking to develop meaningful online friendships.

Facebook, on the other hand, is reciprocal because when someone accepts a friend request both parties instantly have access to one another’s profiles and information.

According to one study on close-knit friendships developed through social networking sites, the level of reciprocity (or the two-way, mutual friendship requirement) of the site will impact the success of the friendships formed through the site.5

The other thing to look for when choosing a social media platform for making friends online is the site’s interactivity.

According to Desjarlais and Joseph, “For socially interactive technologies, messages are directed to a specific person and conversing typically occurs in real time (e.g., text and instant messaging). Such online conversations resemble [face-to-face] interactions but in a text-based form.”3

In other words, the social networking sites that are most conducive to forming new friendships will allow you to communicate with people in a way that is as similar to “real life” communication as possible.

This is opposite of socially passive technologies, which promote much longer delays between responses (such as email and direct messaging) and do not mimic face-to-face interaction as closely. It was found that these types of social technologies are much less likely to be used in forming close online friendships– or, at the very least, will significantly slow down the development of the friendship.

With as many social networking sites as there are, it can be overwhelming to sort through them in order to choose the best one (or several) for your journey in making friends online. But don’t panic- we’ve compiled a list of the best social networking sites and mobile apps for making friends online:

  • Facebook.com: Use the “Groups” and “Events” features to find just that–groups and events– pertaining to your interests and hobbies. Get involved by attending events or messaging with another member of the group to discuss and bond over your mutual interests.
  • Meetup.com: Search for your interests or hobbies and find social events in your area created by other users. You can also create your own social events for other users to find and attend.
  • Rendezwho: This app uses questions about your personality and interests to match you with one other user (who can be anywhere in the world). You cannot directly share anything about yourself with the other user (and vice versa) but instead get to know each other by sending and receiving music playlists, memes, etc. Once you figure out where your friend is located, you can travel to meet your new friend for the first time.
  • Meet My Dog: According to the app, “Meet My Dog is a new location-based social app that helps you connect with other dog owners in your local area and many other locations.”
  • Monarq.co: This is a social networking site for women who run companies and startups.
  • Patook: “The strictly platonic friend-making app” as it calls itself, this app allows you to find people in your area who share your interests.
  • Nextdoor.com: This is a social networking site that allows people to connect with others in their neighborhoods.
  • Not4Dating.com: This site is very simple and shows you other people in your area who are also looking to make friends online. You can filter your search by different characteristics (age, gender, etc.) to find friends who will best meet your needs.
  • We3: This app is designed to help you make not just one friend, but two, by putting users in same-gender groups of 3 (hence the name). The app advertises “no awkward silences or unwanted advances” and uses an algorithm that “considers over 150 factors when deciding who to connect.”
  • Chat rooms: The Internet provides a variety of different chat rooms for you to explore, the sole purpose being (you guessed it) to chat with other users. Most chat rooms are divided into categories by interests, age, gender, and more, so you can narrow down your friend search however it best suits you. Check out this article by Rinkesh Kukreja for Stackroom to find a list of great chat rooms for making friends.
  • Online Games: If you enjoy playing video games, many games offer online/computerized versions that also offer social components. You can even participate in social aspects of games used on popular gaming consoles, such as Xbox and PlayStation.

9. The benefits of online friendships

We all know that friendships are good for our health. But according to a study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, friendships formed on social networking sites can have the same emotional and psychological benefits as face-to-face friendships.1

Online friendships have been found to be particularly beneficial for people who struggle with shyness, social anxiety, or a lack of confidence in their own social skills. While these people may avoid face-to-face social settings that would provide the opportunity to make friends, the Internet provides a “safer” social setting in which alternative friendships can be formed.

In this article by Arti Patel for Global News, therapist and friendship researcher Miriam Kirmayer supports the use of the Internet to develop lasting friendships. “It can be easier to reach out, introduce yourself, and get a friendship off the ground when you know that the other person is also looking to make new friends,” she says.

According to another study, “The high sense of control and reduced social threat during online interactions have been indicated as reasons why [people] may want to find online friends.”2

But you don’t have to be shy to look to the Internet for friendship. Many people have busy schedules that prevent them from getting as much face-to-face social interaction as they would like, and others live in small towns with few people to choose from as potential friends.

“It can become increasingly difficult to make friendships as we age,” says Kirmayer. “Often times, it is a practical issue. Our schedules are busy. We are short on time. As we try to balance the various relationships and responsibilities that we have, our friendships are often the first thing to go.”

Making friends online is one way to solve the issue of time that can prevent us from developing close social relationships.

Another benefit of online friendship is the ability to make friends from different parts of the world, whom you would likely never have the opportunity to meet were it not for the Internet.

Says Ellie Larson in this blog post for A Beautiful Mess, “I think the reason [online friendships] are often MORE successful is because what’s bringing you together are common interests and passions, not proximity.”

In addition, social skills that are developed and used in the formation of online friendships (such as rapport building, making conversation, and self-disclosure) are transferable to face-to-face social settings as well.

One study found that “When using [social networks], individuals may improve upon their self-disclosure skills, including what, how much, and when to disclose personal information, which then transfers to offline interactions with peers…[this] in turn enhances the quality of existing close friendships.” (3)

10. Are online friendships as real as face-to-face friendships?

For many people, the biggest concern when it comes to attempting online friendship is the issue of whether or not online friendships are as real as face-to-face friendships. A study done by ethnographer Denise M. Carter over the course of three years proves that they are.

According to sociologist Anthony Giddens, whom Carter references extensively, the three components of friendship are:

  • Freedom
  • Commitment
  • Intimacy

Freedom refers to the concept that friendships are chosen, unlike kinship ties which are determined by birth. Commitment is the idea that your mutual bond will withstand trials throughout time, and intimacy is the bond of trust that makes people comfortable sharing personal information (such as their secrets, struggles, and hopes for the future) with one another.

While many people question whether these three components – especially intimacy – can truly be developed online, Carter’s study shows that they can.

In fact, she says, the Internet makes it easier to develop intimate friendships because people are not bound by the social and cultural norms that may influence their face-to-face friendships, such as socioeconomic status and social hierarchy. In addition, it can be easier to open up to people online because of the security in knowing they are unable to break your confidence by sharing it with mutual acquaintances.(4)

Ask yourself these questions to find out if online friendship is for you:

  • Do you struggle to form face-to-face friendships as a result of shyness, social anxiety, or a perceived lack of social skills?
  • Do you live in an area where it is difficult to meet many new people?
  • Are you interested in making friends who live in different parts of the world?
  • Are you interested in finding people who share the same passions as you, regardless of where they may live?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then online friendship may greatly benefit your social life. Keep reading to find out exactly how to do it.

Also, check out these guides on how to make friends:

Are online friendships a good option for you? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

References:

  1. Young, M. B., Young, B., and Hyunmi, J. (2013). Social and parasocial relationships on social network sites and their differential relationships with users’ psychological well-beingCyber Psychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(7). Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
  2. Van Zalk, M. H. W., Van Zalk, N., Kerr, M., and Stattin, H. (2014). Influences between online exclusive, conjoint and offline-exclusive friendship networks: The moderating role of shynessThe European Journal of Personality, 28:134-146.
  3. Desjarlais, M. and Joseph, J. J. (2017). Socially interactive and passive technologies enhance friendship quality: An investigation of the mediating roles of online and offline self-disclosureCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 20(5). Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
  4. Carter, D. M. (2004). Living in virtual communities: Making friends onlineJournal Of Urban Technology11(3), 109-125. doi:10.1080/10630730500064448
  5. Ai-Xiang, C., Zi-Ke, Z., Ming, T., Pak Ming, H., & Yan, F. (2012). Emergence of Scale-Free Close-Knit Friendship Structure in Online Social NetworksPlos ONE7(12), 1-13. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050702