How to Make Online Friends and Where to Find Them

woman smiling making new friends online
Jamie Grill/Getty Images 

It used to be that only extremely shy or introverted people had online friends or people that they spoke to exclusively through the Internet. But that has changed, and many of us have embraced our inner geek and expanded our network by developing online friendships. There are many emotional benefits to having online friends, so why not add a few to your social circle?

Just as in the offline world, friendships online need to develop naturally. The good thing is that it's easier to find people who have the exact same interests as you online through their profile rather than in-person because groups tend to be more focused. For example, simply joining a forum for Schnauzer owners will put you in touch with several other people who own the same dog as you. If you already have something like that in common, chances are you'll be able to bond much more quickly.

Meeting Friends in an Online Group or Forum

Online friends can be found in any Internet group that shares your interests and hobbies. Do an Internet search for the name of your hobby, say "knitting groups" for example, and see what comes up. Another option is to locate a group on Yahoo or Google. You can start by going through the categories (for example, health, arts, and entertainment, etc.) or do a more advanced search for the name of your hobby in the group search function.

When joining a group, be sure to introduce yourself. Then, read through some of the past posts to get a feel for the people involved in the group and how they communicate. For example, do they ask each other questions, post about personal issues, offer criticism or comfort? Each group, even those located in the virtual world, has its own "personality" and if you want to fit in you've got to understand how it operates.

Friends who start out online can often turn into real-life friendships, and this is especially true of groups that form online. People generally want to get together and share their hobby (especially with more group-related activities) so be prepared to safely meet your online friend(s) when the time is right. 

Finding Friends on Facebook

Facebook has made it easy to locate groups of interest. Some of these are centered around celebrities and are an extension of fan clubs. Others are hobbyists who share common interests, like skateboarding, cooking, or even TV shows.

Do a search on Facebook under the search term of your choice, or look through the recommendations the site provides for you specifically along the right side of your homepage. There, Facebook lists ads from pages that are looking for more people. The ads are targeted to things you've "liked" or commented on.

Meet Online Friends Through Blogs and Websites

If there is a blog or website you enjoy reading, become a regular commenter. Be sure to add to the conversation with thoughtful remarks and not just "nice post" or your comment may get sent to junk mail. You'll soon see others that also regularly comment, and the two of you may strike up a conversation with each other or even with the blog owner.

You can also check out websites that are specifically designed to introduce you to new friends. While the purpose of these sites is to introduce you so you can meet, you might just decide that your friendship is best kept online, and you can get to know each other that way before meeting in person.

Watch Now: How to Choose The Right Partner for Life