1. Avoid the Cattle Calls
Online (and offline) networking opportunities are usually the same — not all of them, mind you, but many. You’ll want to be highly specific about who you’re connecting with, so grabbing as many screen names (or business cards) won’t do you much good. Instead, follow the conversations and jump in with those discussing what you’re interested in. This is the best way to start a meaningful interaction.
2. Quality Over Quantity
It’s a cliche, and we all hate them, but this one is true. Five people who care about you and what you’re doing is far more valuable than 1,000 people who aren’t paying attention. So once you’re listening, hone in on five (and no more) people you would like to get to know.
3. Avoid the Shallow End
A relationship built entirely on resharing someone else’s content may be useful in the beginning, but then what? You don’t want to get into the auto-pilot mode of “I’ll share your stuff if you share mine.”
Instead, chat with the person about which content is best suited for each to share. It’s the best way for social media friends (and roommates) to get the most out of the relationship.
4. Find Common Bonds
It usually has nothing to do with enforcing rules. Most of the time, it’s finding a common bond between two opposing residents. The same is true for online friendships. Sure, you both love Twitter, that’s nothing special. But if you share a passion for the same sports team, or both love New Orleans’ “Krewe of the Rolling Elvi,” that’s even better. If you find that bond and stick with it, over time the discussion will lead to other things.
5. Meet Them Offline
Meeting an online friend has many advantages. These days, people are finding their future college roommates through Facebook and meeting up with them before school. Although meeting an online friend is not always feasible, if the opportunity comes up, go for it. I know some people may find meeting strangers online creepy, but it’s an important step, and one that makes the difference between a superficial connection and a real one. Just be careful, and always do your due diligence before an in-person meet-up.
What are your steps for making lasting friendships online? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.