How to make friends on the internet
Yes, this is the cheesiest headline I’ve ever written.
This article needed to get posted though because the biggest pain point that most people contact me with is a lack of network to help them grow.
If you want to be successful, it takes a team. Even if you only invest your own capital, you still need people to teach you, run your ideas by, keep competitive with, and more. As they say “Your network is your net worth”. Here are a few thoughts on leveraging the internet to grow your network and hopefully just some motivation to take it more seriously.
If you’re not making massive volumes of connections and genuine friends through the internet, and most people aren’t, you’re missing out on one of the greatest technological benefits of our time. We have not only the ability to access people who share common ideas, dreams, and ambitions as us, but the internet largely sorts people out to make them easier to find as well.
Every dollar you ever make is going to come from another human, every great friend you make will most likely be human, and every partner you love to make money with is going to be human. The internet allows you to find the right humans to fulfill these goals, and I want to help you capitalize on this if you’re not already doing so.
I want you to reach out and actively try to make friends with new people. An introverts worst nightmare I know, but at least online no one has to deal with the sometimes harsh discomfort of looking someone in the face and trying to generate a friendship.
Think of your goals and what sort of people you need to accomplish them. Then find those people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Biggerpockets (for my real estate people), or whatever platform you like, and just reach out to them. It’s not that difficult and we can leverage the sheer size of the internet to our advantage.
When starting conversations with strangers, not everyone will respond. Some will respond but with apathy, and some people you won’t be compatible with, but you have a chance to become friends with about 10% of them and that’s all you need.
If you want to meet 10 great people who can help you succeed in your area of interest, then message 100 people who you might want to work with and you’ll get 10 that respond positively. Now you can spend time building those relationships.
Guess what happens when you do this regularly? It works even better! I email strangers ALL.THE.TIME. and it has propelled my career forward tremendously. If you struggle with making friends online, I wonder how much effort you put forth on a persistent basis. Try it and you’ll be rewarded!
I’ve discussed this before here. The most common way to make friends is by proximity, aligning yourself with someone out of pure happenstance. Now maybe you like this person just plenty and that’s fantastic, but do you share any real interests and can you accomplish anything big together? The sad truth is that most people have very few interests, so their relationships don’t lead to new growth in a shared ambition. This is not to say that people wouldn’t like to have interests, many just haven’t found theirs yet.
The internet can help both of these problems. When I say go online and find friends I don’t mean just find anyone, your search should be strategic and deliberate.
Let’s start with the premise that I’m not a special guy at all. I like real estate, I live in Las Vegas, and I’m on Biggerpockets. In the whole world of humans this is a pretty precise and rare combination and yet I meet new people in town through that website all the time. I bet you could narrow down a few of your interests, and your location, and use the internet to find people who also overlap.
Last weekend I went to a book club in town through meetup.com. It was a dozen people who I would never have crossed paths with otherwise and we sat for 2 hours to discuss “A Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley, a dystopian novel written ~90 years ago. Myself and these folks all went looking for people who shared this interest, and the internet allowed us to find each other, quite easily in fact, we just had to try. That combination of people, interests, and location would have never found each other without this technology.
It’s easy to dismiss my advice is overly simplistic and obvious, but the fact is because our internet usage is so commonplace makes us less likely to use it effectively, not more likely. Search the things you’re interested in or better yet, the things you want to accomplish, and I can almost guarantee that someone else in your area wants to do the same things as you and would like a friend to do it with.
The way we communicate is not all equal. Making friends on Facebook is very easy for me., while Twitter and Instagram I find more difficult. Using internet forums has always been what’s best for me to find real life friends, and I’ve been doing it since ~2001 with success. When I was into cars, it was car forums, when it was weightlifting it was weightlifting forums, and now that I do real estate I spend lots of time on Biggerpockets.
This rant is just to say you should spend time on various different platforms to see which is best for you because they can all work when you tinker with them. Also know that the more specific the combination the more you’ll have to dig to find your people, just because it’s not on your Facebook homepage doesn’t mean the perfect group for you doesn’t exist.
If you’re currently not participating on social media of any kind, and you don’t have a website then I must tell you my friend, I think you’re missing the absolute biggest opportunity and highest return on investment endeavor you could possibly be part of. Social media has its flaws, but it connects humans, and every business is a human business. This will only become more popular as time goes on, don’t play catch up later, get involved immediately
Get over it
Yes meeting new people will give you anxiety, this is true regardless if it’s online or in person. Not everyone is an extrovert, I get it but networking is a hobby like any other. You will get better as you practice and you will get worse as you avoid it. Relationships compound with time as well, so the more people you speak to that hold similar interests, the more likely you’ll find people who will also grow in this field over 5, 10, and 20 years.
Every real estate investor I meet is an opportunity to build a friendship over the long run with unlimited potential. Every opportunity to reach out to investors that I pass on because I’m bad at social media or insecure about approaching them is opportunity cost with the same unlimited potential.
If the difference between success and failure was sending out emails, not for soliciting, but to create genuine long-term relationships, will the possibility of getting some rejection along the way deter you? It shouldn’t.
Suck it up, buttercup!