With all the treats we are buying for everyone else, and with the time off most of us hopefully will have during the holiday season, now is a great time to turn to the internet to do some shopping for ourselves—treating ourselves to the gift of some new friends, and specifically to making friends online.
Ah the holidays, a time to reflect on what’s important in life, a time to spend with friends and family, a time to sample everything good and delicious without guilt.
And a time to shop!
If you are like many of us, you did a portion—if not most—of your shopping online. Matching Santa sweaters for the whole family; slippers for your perpetually cold (ahem) mother-in-law; and a box of Andes Mints that you only ever eat during the holidays.
But now that those tasks are out of the way, it is time to do some really fun shopping—shopping online for new friends. FriendshipNetworking (the formal term) doesn’t quite have the status that Cyber Monday has, but given the huge benefits, many are quickly become fans and you should too.
If you’ve never heard of it, listen up. Making new friendship connections online is a fun way to broaden your social circle, quickly and easily. Perhaps you love to travel but don’t have a steady travel companion—you can find one online. Maybe you just moved to a new town and haven’t yet found “your group”—online friending can solve that problem. Or maybe you’ve decided tennis is your sport but you don’t have a partner—running, walking and tennis partners are plentiful on the internet.
Just as we “shop” for romantic partners via online dating sites, thanks to sites like SocialJane.com, women can now find new platonic friendships online too. And given that we need just one boyfriend, significant other or husband, but many, many female friends, using the internet to make these most important social connections is just plan smart.
The Benefits of Shopping Online
Thank goodness for the World Wide Web. It provides such amazing benefits in terms of finding absolutely everything that we want and need. We now can easily shop for a new house in that coveted neighborhood (thank you Realtor.com). We can find (and land) the perfect job (kudos to Linkedin). And we can catch the perfect partner just before the mistletoe goes up (many thanks to Match.com).
And we can also shop for some gals to add to our speed dial list—potentially, some of the most important and priceless shopping that we can do. Why shop for friends online? Well here are just a few of the reasons that this new trend makes sense.
It is Quick:
With just a few strokes of your keyboard, search parameters are entered and a list of potential friendship matches provided. And if a member’s profile catches your eye, well, you could be having coffee with your new best friend by tomorrow. Now that’s quick.
It is Convenient:
When you use the web to ”shop” for new friends, you can do so at a time that works best for you. See, the internet is always open, and allows access 24/7. So you can browse profiles at 2:00 a.m., or send a nice introductory email during your lunch break. You can put your efforts into finding new friends a time that works for you – whatever that time happens to be.
It is Precise:
The truth is that regardless what you are looking for—friend, feather duster or fudge— the internet can provide it. So if a great friendship match for you is someone who loves books, speaks French and fancies scrapbooking, then online friending is also for you.
It Provides Options:
You think that your perfect friendship match is a French speaking, scrapbooking, bibliophile. But when you happen across the profile of a gal who enjoys movies over novels and you instantly bond over your love of salsa dancing, thank the internet for providing options for which you didn’t ask, but which fit the bill better than you could have imagined. Expanding our horizons, showing us things (and people) of which (whom) we would not have conceived, this may be the real beauty of the internet.
It isn’t Online Dating
Because online friending is so new, some folks get a bit confused about the purpose of friendship networking site—especially those sites like SocialJane.com that are female-only.
Online friending is not online dating. Yes, the process is very similar, from creating profiles to arranging “friendship dates,” but the very clear difference is that one seeks romantic connections, and the other (online friending) seeks only platonic friendships.
The thing to remember is that online dating now accounts for most introductions that lead to long-term relationships and marriage. The net-net, the process works because it quickly puts you in contact with other folks who have the same goal.
And the process works for friendships too, for all of the same reasons.
So do give back to yourself this year, by doing some personal shopping online— shopping online for a new friend or two!