How to Make Friends Online: Coming Up With a Strategy

Kelly Carmody
10 min readOct 10, 2020
Photo by Mark Fletcher-Brown on Unsplash

You met someone really cool online. You got all your courage together, and reached out to them, and you felt proud of yourself. But now you’re starting to get a bit nervous about this whole meeting people online business.

After the initial exchange of pleasantries, you’re not quite sure where to take it from here. How do you actually make this person into your friend? Especially given the whole COVID situation going on, and the fact that it’s really hard to meet in person right now.

It will be easier to make friends online if you have a strategy and a game plan in place, and understand all the steps involved in the process. So keep on reading to find out about all that.

Steps to Make Friends Online

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There are several basic steps that you go through in making friends. First you find people to hang out with, then you make plans with them for when and where to hang out, and what to do. Eventually you start to develop those relationships further, to a deeper level.

The first step is finding people to be friends with. We covered a really big piece of it in HelloSocial’s post, 21 Ways to Make Friends Online: COVID Edition.

You can find people in a variety of places, and where exactly you look depends on your interests. For example, if you love hockey, you may want to join an online meetup group, or online community, for fellow hockey lovers.

After meeting someone initially, you need to make plans with them. This may take the form of an online chat session, a zoom call, or a phone call. It could even be for a socially distanced, in person meeting, if you’re comfortable with that.

There isn’t one single way to take friendships to the next level, but generally as you get closer to people, you spend more time with them. You might open up to each other more, or talk to each other about more things, or be there for each other in difficult times.

Making Plans with Friends

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After you meet somebody online, no matter where it was that you met them, you’re going to need to continue to take next steps to continue developing the relationship further. You’ll want to take the initiative yourself for a future hangout session, to keep the momentum going.

In the time of COVID, this can be a virtual session, and that is probably even better, at least at first, to get to know somebody and become closer friends.

Figure out the Virtual Medium to Meet People Online

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Want to suggest a live chat session? Maybe a zoom call? A phone call? Sharing screens on, and watching funny Youtube videos together, or having a virtual dance party? Playing an online video game together? Hosting your own trivia night and inviting multiple people you’ve met online?

There so many different options, and the one that you choose depends on your interests and comfort level, as well as those of the other person. It may also depend on where exactly you met them. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to choose the perfect activity, the main thing is that you are getting to know each other better and spending time together.

Since you have met online, you’ll want to take basic safety precautions as well, for example not inviting somebody that you’ve never met before over to your home immediately, and telling another person where you’ve gone and when you’ll be back if you do choose to go meet them face to face.

Group Plans to Make Friends Online

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Although it requires more effort on your part to prepare an event for multiple people, it may feel more low pressure to invite a new person to a group event that you have planned online rather than inviting them to hang out solo.

The possibilities for these types of events are endless, they can be Trivia, any sort of game nights, escape rooms or challenges, theme costume parties or living room dance parties, or anywhere your imagination takes you.

If you already have a group of existing friends, you can just host an event with them, and invite the new person. If not, or if you’d like to challenge yourself, you can host an event, and then invite several new people you’ve met online to the event. You may even find yourself creating a whole new group of friends this way.

In this scenario, you have something to offer, you are extending a social opportunity, so feel confident in that. There is an event you are planning, so you will be suggesting a specific date and time to get together.

For example, “Hey, are you free Wednesday night? Me and a few other people are going to be doing a virtual escape room I’m putting on, and it would be great if you would like to come”. You could even friend them on Facebook, and create a Facebook event.

One-on-one Plans to Make Friends Online

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One-on-one plans can be much more casual. For somebody you have met online, you might want to move the relationship off of whatever platform that you have met them on, onto a messaging app, like Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp before inviting them to do anything else, or asking to make plans directly.

This way you can have some casual, low-stakes chats first, and establish trust. They don’t have to be at planned times, you can message back and forth whenever you both feel like it.

If things have been going well for a while over messages, then try moving from a messaging app to zoom, or a screen sharing app like squad. You could try sending a message such as the following “Hey, it’s been really cool getting to know you a bit better, would you like to have a zoom session sometime soon maybe, to chat?”.

If you prefer, you could give them an exact date and time up front for the zoom session, but it is probably better to leave it open ended originally, and then if they confirm interest, work out the details shortly after (be sure to do this!).

Becoming Closer Friends

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1. Spending more time together- Spending more time with a person, especially one-on-one time, is one of the main ways to get closer to them

2. Keep up with them in between hang-out sessions (or zoom sessions/big virtual events) — Send a little message every now and then to check in

3. Be yourself when you hang out, if you really want to get closer to someone, it’s important to be honest about who you truly are, no point putting up false pretenses the whole time

4. Ask questions to really get to know them better, express a genuine interest in their life

5. Share more about yourself, sharing about yourself is a great way to get your new friend to do the same about themselves, and you’ll both feel closer for it

6. Share both your joys and sorrows, according to PsychologyToday. It can be tempting to just tell people the positive, but if you’re interested in cultivating a closer friendship, you’ll want the full story eventually

7. Have a good time together when you hang out, it doesn’t have to be a new activity every time, but you don’t want to be bored either

8. Create time to be supportive of them, constantly think of the value that you can bring of the relationship, and how you can support them emotionally, spiritually, professionally, creatively, in any sense of the word

9. Be there for them when they need it, in their difficult times, times of difficulty can be some of the best bonding moments

10. Expand the range of topics that you talk about, and the range of activities that you do together, the wider range of topics that you can talk about, and the more activities that you do together, the more intense of a bond you are likely to form, especially as you find more mutual interests

11. Be a good friend in every way you can — listen, be dependable, be positive, do not gossip about them, do not be judgemental etc.

12. To score extra points, you can even start taking note of things they are interested in, if they mention a hot sauce that they like, you can get it for them in the future as a gift, if they mention their birthday or another day that has special meaning to them, you will be ready the big day

Things to Remember

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You’re not going to become friends with everyone you meet. Some people you just won’t have enough in common with to spark a friendship. And that’s ok. There isn’t one right way to become friends with everyone, or one right pace.

With some people it will take a long time, and with some people it will happen quickly. Some people might want to hang out more in groups rather than one-on-one, or may prefer to keep your relations at more of a surface level. Not every person you meet is going to become a dear friend for life.

Don’t worry if people say no when you invite them to something. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not interested, people turn down plans for all sorts of reasons. They may have other plans, be very anxious themselves, be generally busy, if it is a group event they may be nervous that they don’t know anybody else.

If they have turned you down three or four times that may be a sign that they’re not interested, and mean that it’s time to move on.

Coming up with a Strategy to Make Friends Online

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Given everything that you have learned so far, how do you put it all together in a cohesive strategy to make friends? First, I would suggest re-reading HelloSocial’s post 21 Ways to Make Friends Online: Covid Edition that you can find at to remind yourself of all the ways that there are out there to meet people.

Figure out where to meet the people you’re interested in

Think about the qualities that you’re looking for in a potential friend first. What sort of people are you hoping to meet? Then work backwards from here.

If you want a workout buddy for the future or if you are very into health and fitness, then consider a gym message board. If you love food, then try somewhere you can meet fellow foodies. If you are a book fanatic, then perhaps Goodreads.

How are you going to reach out to them?

Again, it may help to read “21 ways to make friends online”, mentioned earlier, which goes over different methods that you can use in some of the different online mediums. For example, if you are going to try to make friends from a friend app, then the methods that you use would be different than the methods that you would use over social media, or reaching out to someone in a forum.

What plans are you going to make after you first reach out?

After the first contact, how are you going to follow through after that? Are you going to message them for a while first to build trust? Are you going to have a zoom meeting with them, or invite them to an event that you’re hosting, or even invite them to a distanced, in person meeting?

How will you deepen the connection?

What sorts of questions will you ask them to get to know them better? How will you free up time in your schedule to spend more time with them? How will you be a better friend, and find ways to be more supportive? What topics and activities will you expand your range to?


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

There are steps to making friends. First you have to find people, then you make plans, then you deepen the connection over time. Making plans are important to keep the relationship going.

You can choose between group, and one-on-one plans, although the exact type of plans you make generally aren’t so important. There are certain actions you can take to get closer to new friends, and form deeper connections.

If it makes things easier, you can even approach the whole process of making friends online strategically, and come at it with a game plan. It’s easier than ever to meet people online now. But building up authentic friendships takes some work. If you are willing to put in the work, it is more than worth the effort to have a friendship that could last for life.

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