People often ask me how to get more Twitter followers, more rss subscribers, more blog readers, etc. And while all of those are important for a successful online career, let’s talk about the most important, and the must fun, way to thrive online — how to make more friends!
I am an extrovert. Ya — bet you would NEVER have guessed, right?
So, I begin this post with that confession. For me, making friends is the easiest thing in the world. I make friends in the grocery line!
My three year old daughter has inherited this friendly skill. Actually she takes it to a new level! I think she could win the award for the MOST friendly human on the planet.
When we are on an airplane, Olivia will say to me, “I am bored. Let’s go make a friend.” She will then drag me down the aisles until she finds another child. Within minutes, she will have run back to her seat to bring over her stickers and toys to share with her new friend and we will end up sitting with them for the rest of the flight. I am not kidding.
So, clearly making friends is easier for some people than others. I understand that fact.
BUT, whether it comes naturally or not, there are some things we all can do to make new friends, deepen relationships, and have more fun online…
Please note: I understand some of these tips may seem obvious, but being conscious that we are taking these steps will help us to grow our networks online with authentic, meaningful relationships.
1. Be a Risk Taker
Not many of us have the guts of my three year old Olivia, walking up and down the aisles of an airplane, searching for a new friend. Olivia simply isn’t afraid of rejection. It has never occurred to her that a person or an animal wouldn’t like her! So, she strolls through life introducing herself to everyone and trying to hug every animal she can get her hands on.
But, when it comes to expanding our networks, we need to get some of Olivia’s confidence. Of course people will want to be friends with you — you are fabulous! And remember — we are all here in social media to… wait for it… be social!!!
The “cliques” you may see on Twitter or at conferences are NOT closed! This is NOT high school, no matter how many times people compare the two.
Bloggers want to make more friends, we want to connect and build deeper friendships. That is why we are telling the internet all about our lives, y’all!
So, when you see some of us having extended conversations with each other on Twitter, don’t assume that those are closed conversations. If they WERE private we wouldn’t be having them on Twitter! We would take them to DMs or Skype. Feel free to jump on in!
The same goes for blog conferences — groups of friends are not exclusive. Everyone is there to meet each other. Introduce yourself. Get to know each other. (For more tips on attending blog conferences, see my post, 5 Tips to Make Sure You have a Blast at Conferences!.)
2. Be Present
It can get overwhelming. There are so many people to meet, friends to make. Whether on Twitter, in the blogosphere, or at a conference, there is an endless source of new contacts and friends.
But, it is critical to remain in the moment with the relationships you are building. Nothing is worse than talking to someone who is looking past your shoulder, searching for the next person they want to talk to. (Although, at conferences, we all end up in situations where we are distracted. So please offer grace to someone if they are distracted or in a hurry while talking to you. It happens. We are all rushing at different points.)
Take the time to get to know people beyond the introductions. Spend time talking with them on Twitter or at conferences. Invest in the relationships to turn them into real friendships.
3. Be Helpful
Helping out a friend. It is such a great feeling. And, of course, it brings a friendship to a whole other level.
I love to help my friends and my best friends online are so incredible helping me too. The give and take of friendship, never keeping score, is as important online as it is offline.
4. Be Genuine
Oh, fake just sucks. I want friends that are flawed and not afraid to show it.
Don’t worry about trying to impress or about being someone else. I know this sounds like such trite advice. But seriously. Fake sucks. (Unless you are talking about sun tans. Then go for fake. Skin cancer sucks more.)
5. Be Forgiving
Yesterday, I wrote about grace and how I believe it is the cure for “drama.”
I hate to harp on this point, but I just can’t stress it enough. When others mess up, it is easy to be judgmental or angry.
But man — I know I mess up all the time. As long as I remember how flawed I am, it is a lot easier to give grace to the people around me. And if you aren’t very forgiving, you are going to run out friends, fast.
6. Be Fun
I am laughing that I am including “have fun” on this list. Really, Janice? You have to remind people to have fun???
But, I think a little reminder won’t hurt.
Sometimes, people can worry so much about saying the right thing and being the right person, they can forget to have fun. This is blogging people — this is fun!
So, don’t take yourself too seriously and make sure you have fun out there.
There ya go — wasn’t that easy!?! Now, get out there and make some new friends — and have fun, darn it!