Real Connections in an Online World

A guest blog from#FemaleFriendships advocate Becky Burton of Gus McAllibaster. Becky writes about the power of hello as it relates to modern women discovering new friendships.

The 24/7 Happy Hour

I flinch at the idea of networking as much as the next person.

A slap-on nametag and glass of cheap white start my heart racing. Just like Pavlov’s dogs, these stimuli trigger an automatic response — hide in a corner and frown over very important emails (aka: my Instagram feed).

Funny enough, though, I’ve actually missed networking happy hours since leaving the corporate world for a freelance career.

I’ve missed spontaneous connections with colleagues I would never otherwise meet — people with whom my Venn diagram intersects enough to find common ground, but diverges enough for new thinking and ideas.

Yes, working in pajamas until noon has its perks, but missing out on face-to-face connections comes at a cost. Feeling lonely is one, and another is the absence of fresh perspectives through introductory conversations.

Thankfully, a 24/7 happy hour is now only a phone tap away. We can scroll through hashtags, fellow followers and comment sections to find the online equivalent of a friendly girl standing alone by the snack table.

If someone’s photo or caption resonates with us, we can reach out freely with no fear of the awkward, “[gulp, gulp, gulp] I’m going to grab another drink” getaway.

If someone doesn’t respond, we’re likely to forget we reached out in the first place. If they do respond, the exchange suddenly has the potential to lead to a real connection — at least as real as it gets from behind a screen.

For example, a photographer and mother of three reached out to me several months ago after I posted comments on an Instagram feed we both follow. I had expressed support and empathy for a girl who’d just learned of her mother’s cancer diagnosis. The fellow follower thanked me for my words and since then we’ve shared support, virtual laughter and even project collaboration via comments and instant messaging.

A Stepping Stone to Friendship

While many of us crave more in-person interactions, there is a time when these virtual friendships are especially important — such as moving to a new place, venturing into a new field, managing a life change, or working from home.

We can use the interactive features on social media as stepping stones to more in-depth conversations — emails to commiserate over heartbreak or phone calls to learn about the newest technology in our field.

The key to making these connections is to reframe how we interact online. When we treat social media less as a window into someone’s life and more as a potential doorway into a new friendship, we engage in an entirely different way. We become active listeners, with an “I hear you” response instead of passive voyeur watching in silence.

Of course, time doesn’t allow in-depth conversations with everyone, but if someone’s post sparks the feeling of connection in you, don’t be afraid to extend a virtual handshake. One day it might translate into a real-life hug.

Thankfully, Monarq makes this whole process even easier. Instead of a free-for-all happy hour, the app feels more like an intimate party with a welcoming host to make introductions. In the situations listed above — new city, new job, new stage of life — Monarq connects you with like-minded women to make the transition easier.

Even if you’re not in a transitional phase — maybe you’re just tired of the same old networking chatter, the app will help you single out women with whom you can form a deeper connection. If you feel a void in your life and yearn for a new comrade or coffee date, join Monarq to start engaging with other women in a meaningful way.

After all, the moments spent forming new friendships are likely to be the happiest hours of all.

Download the Monarq app now and meet a new lady friend.