Exercise attracts exercise. The more the people around you exercise, the more likely you exercise. In my experience, this applies to studying and self-improvement as well. The more you socialize with ambitious and hard-working people who are passionate about improving themselves continuously, the more likely you are to follow their example.

But how do you grow your network online? I’ll give you some practical ideas in this post.

Studying online doesn’t have to mean isolating yourself from everybody else. However, you probably need to put a little more effort in getting friends online than you would have to put meeting them face to face. People are, for a good reason, more reserved online.

Traditional education versus online education

In my opinion, one of the biggest benefits of traditional education (meaning classes that are organized on campus), versus online education, is the social life. On campus you will almost automatically meet people from different backgrounds. Depending on where you go to school and where you decide to live, you can meet people in classes, on breaks, in clubs, in extracurricular activities, in parties, etc. With online education this doesn’t come as easily. The risk in online learning is that it is too easy to isolate yourself from the rest of the world.

Education (on campus and online) seems to rely more and more on peer learning. Even though I personally haven’t always been a huge fan of peer learning as a main way to study, in online learning it can bring more value to the course, since it forces you to communicate with your fellow learners. Having said that, communicating online comes with unique challenges. If you only communicate by writing, you will miss all the facial expressions, hand gestures, tones, and everything that can help you understand someone, even when they are not native speakers. Besides, online communication leaves you often with the uncertainty whether others have received and read your messages or not, if they never reply.

If you are interested in the pros and cons of online studying, check out this post on the 13 pros and cons of studying online! There I’ve gathered comments from people who have studied in an online degree program.

How to get to know people online?

Introduce yourself. Don’t be shy! For some this is easier said than done, but let’s face it, people don’t sign up for courses to mock others who have done the same. So, don’t hesitate to join in! Take part in conversation happening on the course platform.

In addition, I’d like to suggest something bolder. Something I’d like to see schools organize more actively, but if they don’t, you as a student can make happen!

Online extracurriculars.

I would want to suggest more extracurricular activities for online learners. I know not everything is possible to organize online. One example would be a football game. However, more socialization could be done online. You just need to be a little creative.

Let’s look at some examples.

– Book clubs: this is an easy one. You can use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or other online meeting tools to organize a book club meeting.

– Visual arts: You can share your own artwork online. In addition, you can organize live workshops where you can invite someone to teach people e.g. drawing.

– Student newspapers: Again, something that could fairly easily be taken online.

– Tutoring: COVID-9 has shown us that teaching and tutoring can be organized online. There are now numerous tips on the Internet to help you organize online tutoring.

– Religious meetings: The current pandemic has also forced many religious groups to transfer meetings to online gatherings. Therefore, great solutions for this can be easily found.

– Food clubs: This is trickier, but not impossible. You can, of course, share recipes online. Furthermore, you can organize a live cooking evening. Decide what meal everybody is cooking and make the dish at the same time while everybody is online on e.g. Teams. You can chat while cooking and then share an online meal together. This may sound weird, but believe me, it can be a lot of fun!

– Sports: No, you cannot practice team sports online. However, you can share your progress and root for others’. You can start challenges (running, swimming, technique, etc.), and everybody reports their success later. Talk about diets or equipment. Just connect with like-minded people.

This is not a comprehensive list, but I’m sure you’ll be able to generate more and even better ideas yourself!

If you don’t want to isolate yourself, if you want to get to know your fellow learners, if you want to make new friends online, the advice is simple.. You need to be active!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I am writing from my own experience as an online learner and from my own point of view. The opinions expressed in this post are solely mine and therefore subjective.