Finding Friends Online: Convenient and Efficient, with a High ROI

By Janis Kupferer

Your Wants, Needs and Desires Delivered
Last year I decided I wanted a new car. But rather than jump in my current one and drive from dealership to dealership, spending my time in endless pursuit of the perfect color and type and price, I instead jumped on my computer and started cruising various websites that offered information and reviews of cars in my price range. And I found a great SUV, which is the perfect vehicle for me.

Then, a few months ago, a tree fell on my house, which meant I needed a new roof. Now I could have placed calls to all of my friends and neighbors asking them whether they’ve replaced their roofs recently, and if they had recommendations on roofing companies. But honestly, that would have taken days, and I still might not have found anyone who actually had a new roof and liked their roofing contractor. Better, I thought, so simply turn to the internet and search out roofers and reviews. Which is exactly what I did, and found a terrific one, who expertly fixed my ailing roof.

And so, when I decided I deserved a new boyfriend, I immediately …….. okay, you get the point. For just about any of your wants, needs or desires, there is a website able to provide information, opinions, advice and results.

And make no mistake, it is the results that the internet is able to provide that make it such a miraculous tool.

Therefore, it only makes sense that if we are now deciding that we’d really like to have a fuller social life and add some new friends to said life, the internet is again the place to help accomplish this goal.

Here’s why:  

Meet New Friends in Your PJ’s at 10:00 p.m. (or 6:00 a.m. or 12:00 p.m.)
The internet is your personal concierge. No matter what you want or when you want it, you simply click your mouse (or trackpad for you tablet users) and instantly, it is—literally—at your fingertips. And when you call on the internet, you can do your beckoning at midnight when the kids are asleep, or at noon while noshing, or anytime that is convenient for you. The internet is there to work for you, so it doesn’t mind at all that your mouth might be full or that you are still in your pajamas.

Seriously, one of the great advantages of meeting new friends online is that you can fit it into your schedule at the time that is best for you. Spend a few minutes online on a Saturday—your off time, or do a 5-minute burst each day, which is just enough time to try a new search, respond to an email, or post a new photo.

Remember, the internet is there to serve you.

Sample from the Buffet
Another great thing about the internet is that you can never be exactly sure about the results which will be delivered. For example, search for the word “apple” and you’ll be supplied with a selection of results that range from fruit to technology to baby names (seriously).

And that is a wonderful thing because although you thought you were searching for a new “Apple” computer, you might be pleasantly surprised at the health benefits that come from eating an apple a day, and that naming your child after a fruit is a cool thing to do nowadays.

The same applies to many areas of our lives. We think we know what we want until another option, and option that we didn’t know existed, one that is actually much more fitting, is presented to us (remember your first college major?).

Making friends online gives us this experience too. Often we believe that all of our friends should where white sneakers, love foreign films, and only eat broccoli, until we read a wonderfully warm and witty profile by a gal who does love foreign films, but only wears heels, and definitely prefers potato chips to vegetables.

No doubt, the internet broadens our horizons and allows us to sample a bit.

Meet a Walking Partner who Loves Spy Novels, Wasabi and Bulldogs
Okay, so now that I’ve just told you that shopping off the list is a great thing which can greatly expand your options, I’m now going to tell you that the internet also makes your shopping much more efficient.

See, our buddy the internet removes chance and proximity from the equation of making new friends, which greatly improves your odds of success. If you already have a great shopping buddy and totally don’t need another work-out partner, but you’d really like to find someone who also loves to travel, especially when it involves big cities or warm, sunny beaches, then the internet can help you pinpoint those who also share a love of the open sea and want a friendly companion. And here is the really neat thing⎯your new travel friend can live anywhere (in the US, to be a member), and can respond to your emails at anytime. You both don’t have to happen to know Barbara (or Sarah or “Apple”) and come to her book club where she introduces you, and happens to mention her recent trip to New York, which sparks a conversation about travel, and beach trips in particular.

The internet made the introduction, and not by chance or coincidence.

A Significant Return on a Modest Investment 
In financial terms, Return on Investment, or ROI, is a measurement of the investment or risk that you make, and the result or return derived from that investment. To illustrate, let’s say you bought a painting at a yard sale for $10, and then sold it on for $1,000. Your ROI would be 100—you increased the value of that initial investment 100 times (10 x 100 = 1,000).

In terms of a friendship, the ROI is not calculated quite as easily since the amount of investment or effort you put into finding a new friendship varies greatly, and depends on certain circumstances. For example, one day you are out getting the mail and a new neighbor happens by. The two of you start chatting, then laughing, and the next thing you know you are planning dinner out and a new friendship has taken root. The investment here was relatively small—after all, you were merely checking the mail!

Of course, it would be wonderful if all new friendships formed so easily. Just a leisurely stroll to the mailbox and “ding, ding,” you’ve got a new friend.

Although my example was meant to be hypothetical, the reality is that making friends online can be just that easy. A simple stroll to your inbox and you may find a message from a potential new friend. Okay, you do first have to get online and post a profile along with some snappy photos (completely optional, but always recommended), so there is some effort required. But I don’t think too many of us would be braking a sweat at this point.

The lesson here is that posting a profile, performing a few searches, and then sending some notes of introduction doesn’t really require all that much effort⎯at least when compared to other ways that we meet friends. And while this is just the first step in finding a new friend, the effort really isn’t too great, and the risk is essentially zero.

The result of your efforts could absolutely be a new friend. And what a wonderful return that is … whatever the investment.

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