8 Ways To Meet New People in an Online Community
Coronavirus has turned the world on its head.
Offices are empty, group activities are limited, and if you think you’re getting closer than two meters to a stranger, well, you’d need to think again.
This ‘new normal’ that has emerged throughout the last year has changed the way we socialize, and meeting new people has become a whole new challenge.
However, there are still a number of ways to meet new people during these unusual times, most of which begin online. Joining an online community of like-minded people is just one of the solutions.
It can take time to get used to new ways of socializing in an online community, but there are many ways to speed up the process of meeting new people, making connections, and feeling part of something bigger.
Here are eight ways to help you meet new people in an online community
1. Join a small community
If you’re new to online communities, it’s better to start small. This is for the simple reason that it’s much easier to form connections with other members when the community is intimate.
In smaller communities, each member plays an important part in keeping the community running, whereas in larger communities, you can quite easily get lost in the crowd.
If you’re already part of a large community you can join a subgroup that feels more intimate. Engaging with people in a subgroup can seem less daunting and much more personal.
2. Find a community that aligns with your interests
As online communities become more prevalent, there are specialized communities for practically everyone.
From groups for houseplant lovers to those comparing tips for growing mushrooms to communities for tech-driven entrepreneurs to share advice and build their networks.
Joining a community that aligns with your personal hobbies and passions or professional goals will help you connect with people you are more likely to have something in common with.
Shared interests and experiences also provide the perfect icebreakers for initiating conversations with members for the first time.
This common ground could be anything from a common experience traveling to the same country to a passion for running marathons.
3. Create a rich personal profile
When you join a community, you’ll be asked to fill in your personal profile. Depending on the community-building platform your community is hosted on, your profile can provide an entry point for members to get to know more about who you are, what you’re into, and your goals for joining the community.
For example, community building platforms such as Circle simply require a headline, quick bio, social links, and an email address. While other platforms such as Panion, focus on creating more meaningful connections between members.
By sharing your interests, hobbies, and memorable experiences on your profile, you can connect with members with who you’re more likely to connect with on a personal level.
Other platforms, like Discord, allow private profiles, which can make it difficult, if not impossible, to build a personal relationship with another member.
Remember, your profile is one of the first things that other members will see. Take time to fill it in, and ensure your name and bio genuinely reflect who you are and what you enjoy and value.
4. Strike up a conversation with other members
Initiating a conversation online is very different from speaking to someone in person. Before you start messaging members, try posting an engaging and thought-provoking question in your community.
As you spend more time within a community platform, you’ll start to recognize which other members engage with your posts regularly.
Once you’ve exchanged a few messages in a centralized communication channel and have created rapport, it can be easier to initiate a private conversation.
When you are ready to interact one-on-one it is important to ask open-ended questions. For example, instead of asking ‘Do you like to travel?’, think about rephrasing your question to ‘Is there a place you love that you’d like to visit again?’
5. Attend your community’s online events
As well as staying active with the day-to-day happenings, one of the best ways to meet new people in a community is to participate in regular events.
Depending on the community that you’ve joined and its hosted platform, events can range from online webinars held by industry experts to speed networking events with other community members.
A great example of a fun online social event is Run The Word’s Cocktail Parties. These parties take place over the course of an hour, during which you are matched with other people from a community and given five minutes to introduce yourself. After these five minutes are up, Run The World will match you with someone new, and the cycle continues.
6. Organize your own events within a community
If there’s not much going on in your community, you might need to take control by organizing your own in-person events. Not all community-building platforms allow you to do this, so it might be worth talking to your Community Manager to find out if this is possible.
On Panion, members can use the Gatherings feature to organize spontaneous group activities, both on and offline, based on mutual interests.
Simply create the event, wait for other members to join, and then enjoy! As the event creator, members can set a time, date, and location for the event to take place and can then choose who can join.
7. Be patient!
Meeting new people in an online community isn’t something that happens overnight. Replies aren’t always instant, and sometimes it can take a few days to get any responses to content or questions that you post.
Try to build a connection online before you suggest setting up a video call or meeting up in person.
If you find someone has stopped replying, take time to think about why that might be and focus on a friendship that is blooming more naturally.
8. Stay engaged in your community
Staying active within your community is essential for being able to build new friendships within the community. It is important to regularly contribute by sharing pictures, questions, and opinions, while also commenting or reacting to other people’s content.
The more you contribute, the more you’ll be recognized by other community members, and the more you’ll recognize the members who most interest you.
This mutual familiarity gives you a solid foundation on which to build a friendship, whether it’s by organizing a quick coffee date or simply recognizing a few familiar faces at an in-person event.
Our final thoughts
Getting used to new ways of meeting people isn’t easy. After all, building relationships through the power of the internet is something that has only come to light in the last few decades.
One of the best ways to meet people in an online community is to choose the right community that fits you and your needs.
After that, it’s all about staying involved with what’s going on, interacting with members in shared online spaces, and attending online and offline events.
Joining an established community on Panion, or starting your own community, can be an easy way to create new opportunities for meeting new people and discovering more meaningful connections online.