How to Start a Conversation Online: 13 Tips for Making Meaningful Connections (2023)

How to Start a Conversation Online: 13 Tips for Making Meaningful Connections (1)

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13 ways to start a conversation online

The key to meaningful online relationships

How to start a conversation online with a stranger

6 pros and cons of online conversations

How to maintain an online friendship

Trust yourself

We spend more time online than ever, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic began. We work from home, chat with friends through video calls, and spend the time in between browsing social media. In fact, about 30% of Americans say that they are now almost constantly online.

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All this means you might be wondering how to start a conversation online.

The world has changed, and we have to re-think how to navigate online relationships. When we use chat apps, we can’t depend on non-verbal cues like tone or body language. If you’re starting a conversation online, there’s also an added layer of uncertainty when firing off that first message. The risk of rejection feels higher than ever.

Whether it’s a stranger, a new colleague, or an online friend, we’re happy to report that it’s possible to have healthy text conversations. Follow this guide to learn how to start a conversation online and start making new connections.

13 ways to start a conversation online

There are many fun ways to connect with others online. Here are some tips on how you can start a conversation with anyone, whether that’s an online friend or a professional connection:

  1. Join an online forum like Reddit where you can find people with shared interests
  2. Be active in relevant online communities, like your work Slack or a group chat
  3. Find people in your area on social media like LinkedIn or Twitter
  4. Trust yourself and be authentic
  5. Develop your online profiles to reflect your personality
  6. Ask lots of questions, including follow-up questions, to find common ground and express interest
  7. Use conversation starters to prompt new topics
  8. Remember that people are busy and might be slow to answer you — be patient
  9. Compliment things you like about the person, like their sense of humor
  10. Read their messages thoroughly, just as you would listen attentively
  11. Share things you think the person would enjoy, such as memes, articles, or songs
  12. Act the way you would in person
  13. Be brave and keep going even if it’s hard at first

How to Start a Conversation Online: 13 Tips for Making Meaningful Connections (2)

The key to meaningful online relationships

Building a meaningful relationship online is similar to forming one in person. Here are three tips for making more authentic connections:

  1. Admit when you don’t know something. You’re not there to impress them. You’re there to connect. The best way to do that is by acknowledging your humanity. When you admit you don’t know something, you’re admitting to the most human trait of all: fallibility.
  2. Be vulnerable. This means sharing what you really think and feel. You don’t have to let everything out at once, but sharing just a little can help you build more authentic connections.
  3. Know what you want and ask for it. If you’re looking for guidance from a mentor, tell them. If you would like to go on a date, be clear about it. This kind of communication sets clear expectations for what you want out of the relationship.

How to start a conversation online with a stranger

Our basic tips for how to start a conversation online work in most scenarios. However, we have some bonus tips for the different types of relationships you might form online. Knowing how to talk to a stranger is difficult, but tailoring your approach for each situation will help you start strong.

How to Start a Conversation Online: 13 Tips for Making Meaningful Connections (3)

How to form an online friendship

Here are some ways to approach making friends online:

1. Join an app centered around making friends

Online forums like Reddit can help you find people with shared interests. You can also use apps like Snapchat, Tinder, Bumble BFF, MeetUp, or Nearify to connect with people in your area.

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2. Network on social media

If you follow someone on Twitter that shares common interests, try reaching out to see if they’d like to grab coffee over Zoom or Facetime. These virtual face-to-face interactions are much easier than constant messages back and forth. You probably have things in common if you chose to follow them on social media, so you have a great foundation to work with.

3. Be yourself

Be authentic when you reach out. Trust that you’re good enough. People will respond if they sense you’re confident. Be honest about who you are instead of putting up a charade.

4. Try an online class

Online fitness classes or skill-building classes can provide you with opportunities to meet people with similar interests. If you’re taking a coding class for work, forming a study group with some of your peers will help you socialize while working together on assignments.

Or, other students in a French class can help you practice over text or group calls. It’s hard to start a conversation online with a friend who doesn’t speak the same language, but at least you’ll both be learning.

Dipping your toes in online dating

The rules of good online conversations apply to dating, too. You wouldn’t start a conversation with a business connection by giving them too many compliments, right? You should avoid it with new online dating connections, too. Here are some tips to starting online conversations with potential romantic matches:

1. Develop your online profile

Regardless of what platform you’re using, you need to make sure that your profile reflects who you are. Use photos where you’re smiling and relaxed or that you feel represent your personality. Mention some of your favorite things — movies, bands, places — so people have something to start a conversation with.

2. Match with people who share your interests

Once you find someone to talk to, look at their profile for potential ice breakers. They might mention a favorite movie or TV show or have a photo in a foreign city that you’ve visited. Look for common ground and ask open-ended questions to start a conversation.

Don’t list interests that you think other people will want to read. If you hate waking up on Saturday morning to go hiking or using your weekends to go camping, avoid adding “hiking” or “outdoorsy” to your profile. That way, you’ll be able to actually find people with who you have shared interests. These things will act as good conversation starters.

(This tip isn’t useful just for dating — it’s a fundamental part of starting any meaningful relationship).

3. Get personal (if things are going well)

Simple questions and small talk become stale if you’ve been chatting a while. After you make your first impression, look for conversation topics that will strengthen your bond. If you can keep a conversation going about movies for an hour over Zoom, it might indicate that you can move beyond a first date conversation and into something personal.

How to Start a Conversation Online: 13 Tips for Making Meaningful Connections (4)

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What about remote work relationships?

Networking online is remarkably easy thanks to platforms like LinkedIn and email. And with a majority of remote employees feeling left out at work, learning how to start a conversation online is more important than ever.

Grow your professional network and connect with your coworkers online using these tips:

1. Endorse what they say

If you agree with or admire a person, share their posts on LinkedIn or Twitter. You can even add a thoughtful comment about what they said. It’s a small gesture, but people enjoy feeling heard. That small interaction will create a foundation for you to reach out to them later to ask about work experience or mentorship opportunities.

2. Be humble

Soften your language when you reach out to this person online. Avoid sending a message that’s too direct, or you might come off as arrogant. Acknowledge that you’re reaching out of the blue, explain why you want to speak with them, and thank them for their time. This tactic is especially helpful when dealing with busy people.

3. Compliment them

If you’re reaching out to someone for the first time, compliment them on something specific. Mention that they gave a great online presentation at a conference or you appreciated their post in a forum. This will open the door to discuss whatever they did further and indicate things that you’re both interested in.

4. Start small

Maybe you’re looking to deepen a relationship you have with a coworker that you’ve never met before. Reach out and start a conversation with them about something small. For example, you could share your excitement about a new initiative starting at your company. It will be a great way for you to chat and become friendly without jumping in headfirst.

6 pros and cons of online conversations

How to Start a Conversation Online: 13 Tips for Making Meaningful Connections (5)

In the early days of the internet, naysayers said it could never replace genuine social interaction. They weren’t entirely wrong, but they also weren’t entirely right. Like most things in life, online communication has clear pros and cons.

The pros

You can meet people from anywhere. Thanks to the internet, you can make friends and connections from anywhere. You can find friends to visit in another country or new professional connections in another state.

It’s easier to express yourself. On some social media platforms, anonymity makes it easier to express yourself. No one knows who you are, so the chances of embarrassment are less severe. This allows even the shyest people to connect with others.

It’s convenient. Making friends in person takes time. It requires us to travel and meet at a physical location. Plus, it may take multiple meet-ups to make meaningful connections. Chatting online takes away some of these burdens.

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The cons

Most online friends stay online. Unless you make meeting a priority, online friends rarely translate to real-life meet-ups.

Internet addiction is possible. Internet friends can make us feel like our social needs are met. But in reality, we’re still not seeing people in person — which is vital for our well-being. We need to strike a balance between online and real-life human connections.

You lose out on non-verbal cues. Eye contact, body language, and tone of voice add a lot to a conversation. We can try to make up for it with exclamation points and emojis — but texting still misses these core parts of communication.

How to maintain an online friendship

Keeping up with the people in your life is difficult — especially if you don’t live in the same city. But don’t worry: there are plenty of ways to stay connected to someone virtually. Here are 6 easy ways to maintain an online friendship:

How to Start a Conversation Online: 13 Tips for Making Meaningful Connections (6)

  1. Schedule time to speak, whether that’s a monthly phone call or a weekly check-in
  2. Follow-up on things you know are happening in their life, like a new job or promotion
  3. Reach out to share updates, even when they don’t ask for it
  4. Send them small things that you think they’d like
  5. Take an online course together
  6. Don’t lie or say things you don’t mean

Trust yourself

These days, it’s more common than ever to meet people online. Whether through a dating app, social media, or online gaming, the Internet is a great tool to forge meaningful new connections. As long as we continue to meet our real-life social needs, online friends can be an excellent outlet for authentic interactions.

BetterUp can help you develop the social skills you need to grow personally and professionally. Knowing how to start a conversation online will bolster your professional network, develop your active listening skills, and help you find your next best friend.

How to Start a Conversation Online: 13 Tips for Making Meaningful Connections (7)


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Published May 12, 2022


How can I make a meaningful conversation online? ›

Here's some simple tips to help you create more personal experiences—and more trust between you and your audience.
  1. Make a good first impression. ...
  2. Say my name, say my name. ...
  3. Ask questions. ...
  4. Curb your narcissism. ...
  5. Speak as one, to one. ...
  6. Say it out loud. ...
  7. Cooperate towards a goal. ...
  8. Avoid jargon.

How do you start a meaningful conversation? ›

Tips for having a meaningful conversation
  1. Be flexible about the format. ...
  2. Be ready to listen. ...
  3. Ask open-ended questions. ...
  4. Show your concern and support by using phrases like “I understand” or “I'm with you” or “That sounds rough, how can I help?” We all need to be heard and validated.
  5. End on a positive note.

How do you start an online conversation? ›

Simple Tips for Starting a Conversation Online
  1. Tailor your message to your recipient. ...
  2. Keep things upbeat and funny. ...
  3. Don't make it too superficial. ...
  4. But flirting is more than fine. ...
  5. Suggest date ideas. ...
  6. Choose an ideal time of day to send. ...
  7. Mirror the other person. ...
  8. Don't overwhelm with follow-ups.
May 18, 2016

What are 4 ways to start a conversation? ›

Conversation Starters for Any Situation
  1. Tell me about you. ...
  2. Working on anything exciting lately? ...
  3. What's your story? ...
  4. What personal passion project are you working on right now? ...
  5. How do you know the host? ...
  6. What was the highlight of your day today? ...
  7. What was the highlight of your week?

What is the best practice for online conversation? ›

Best Practices for Live Chat Success
  1. Prioritize responding quickly. The expected response time on live chat is close to instantaneous. ...
  2. Set expectations. ...
  3. Be transparent. ...
  4. Type conversationally. ...
  5. Don't be too quick to convert off live chat. ...
  6. Use warm-up questions to break-the-ice.
Jul 20, 2018

How can I chat smartly? ›

6 Things Smart People Do to Have Really Interesting Conversations
  1. Become genuinely interested in the other person.
  2. Show those pearly whites.
  3. Give the gift of a "five-minute favor."
  4. Listen more. Speak less.
  5. Make the other person feel important--and do it sincerely.
  6. Tell a good story.
  7. Closing thought.
Mar 3, 2018

How to make a conversation interesting? ›

Here are five tips and tricks from experts to help you next time you experience an awkward mid-conversation silence.
  1. Make sure you look interested. ...
  2. Don't discount small talk. ...
  3. Listen actively. ...
  4. Ask open-ended questions. ...
  5. Stay calm, and practice.
Jun 17, 2020

What are the best conversation starters? ›

General Conversation Starters
  • What's the most interesting thing you've read lately?
  • What's a fact about you that's not on the internet?
  • Do you listen to any podcasts? ...
  • If you were in charge of the playlist, which song would you play next?
  • What's the best gift you've ever gotten?
Jul 18, 2022

What are the 5 elements of conversation? ›

These include the opening (or greeting and small talk), feedforward (or transition to and preview of the main message of the conversation), business (or the main topic of conversation), feedback (or reflection and summary of the conversation), and closing (or ending of the conversation).

What are the five essentials of conversation? ›

The Five Most Essential Conversation Skills
  • Clarifying What You Heard.
  • Confirming Your Understanding.
  • Clarifying What You Mean.
  • Clarifying a Misunderstanding.
  • Changing the Subject.

How do you spark a conversation online? ›

Ask lots of questions, including follow-up questions, to find common ground and express interest. Use conversation starters to prompt new topics. Remember that people are busy and might be slow to answer you — be patient. Compliment things you like about the person, like their sense of humor.

What are the don'ts in online communication? ›

What are the don'ts of netiquette?
  • Use coarse language. Using coarse language when interacting with others online may send a different message than you intended. ...
  • Overuse caps. Consider monitoring your use of all-caps when composing online messages. ...
  • Send spam. ...
  • Overuse abbreviations. ...
  • Speak negatively of others.
Dec 7, 2021

How can I improve my deep conversation skills? ›

What to do
  1. Recognise small talk as a necessary first step. To improve your conversations, don't dismiss small talk altogether. ...
  2. Ask better questions. ...
  3. Listen to the answers. ...
  4. Be willing to share something about yourself. ...
  5. Come ready to learn. ...
  6. Be prepared to give and take.
Apr 28, 2021

What to talk about when you have nothing to say? ›

Chat about your past experiences if you want to open up to the other person. If you feel comfortable with the other person, you may ask about their past or what they want to do in the future. Ask them about funny things that happened to them, what their family is like, or goals they have.

How do you talk to someone you don't know well? ›

How to chat with someone you don't know and why it can be good...
  1. First things first - learn how to start a conversation. ...
  2. Offer a compliment. ...
  3. Ask follow-up questions to keep the conversation flowing smoothly. ...
  4. Reveal something about yourself to demonstrate trust. ...
  5. Be patient. ...
  6. Know how to wrap up a conversation.

What can I say to keep a conversation alive? ›

Conversation Topics That Will Work Anywhere
  1. Tell me about yourself. ...
  2. What's been the best part of your day so far? ...
  3. What do you do to relax? ...
  4. What book are you reading right now? ...
  5. What's your favorite thing about your hometown? ...
  6. What's the last thing you bought online that you really loved?

What are the 10 ways to have a better conversation? ›

10 Ways to Have Better Conversations
  1. Don't multitask. “Be present. ...
  2. Don't pontificate. ...
  3. Use open-ended questions. ...
  4. Go with the flow. ...
  5. Try not to repeat yourself. ...
  6. Stay out of the weeds. ...
  7. Listen. ...
  8. Be brief.
Jul 12, 2019

How do I make chat not boring? ›

How To Not Be Boring Action Steps Summary
  1. Use dig questions to be interested in others.
  2. Try 1-2 new things per month so you'll have interesting things to talk about.
  3. Be 10% higher energy than other people.
  4. Balance your conversations. ( aim for 50% listening/talking)
  5. Develop your strong opinions!
Feb 3, 2021

How can I be less boring in chat? ›

7 Ways to Make Small Talk Way More Interesting
  1. Be more interested. ...
  2. Ask open-ended questions. ...
  3. Leverage your environment (or your wardrobe). ...
  4. Play the student. ...
  5. Gamify for your own amusement. ...
  6. Be more interesting. ...
  7. Give up on lost causes.

How can I be mature in talking? ›

Scroll on for her five tips to make you look super mature at work.
  1. Listen. Listen. ...
  2. Be direct. So many people don't ask for what they want or need, and then they complain they don't get it. ...
  3. Drive the conversation with a sense of curiosity. ...
  4. Work on your phone demeanor. ...
  5. Ditch the digital and speak face to face.
Mar 17, 2016

How can I sound more intelligent in a conversation? ›

How to Sound Smart
  1. Use simple terminology. Stop thinking the use of big words will make you appear smart. ...
  2. Don't over-articulate. Connect the words within phrases together.
  3. Relax & Breathe. Being relaxed always improves your performance; exhale your voice right out of your lungs. ...
  4. Use a varied intonation pattern.
Jun 29, 2020

What are the 10 important elements of communication? ›

This model has been built up upon ten clearly explained elements that are as follows: 1) Sender; 2) Objective; 3) Message; 4) Dispatching; 5) Time-Place Factor; 6) Medium; 7) Reception; 8) Receiver; 9) Understanding; and 10) Response.

What are the 3 levels of conversation? ›

So, those are what I call the 3 Levels of Conversation — Informational, Personal/Emotional, and Relational.

What does a good conversation look like? ›

The best conversations begin with showing an interest in the other person, their world, and what they might be interested in. Most people love to talk about themselves. Ask them an open-ended question about something that you notice about them.

What are the 4 characteristics in a conversation? ›

Effective dialogue generally has four important characteristics: symmetry, short segments, specifics, and summary.

What are the four levels of conversation? ›

The Four Types of Conversations: Debate, Dialogue, Discourse, and Diatribe. When talking with someone, it is helpful to know what type of conversation you are in. You can do so based on a conversation's direction of communication (a one-way or two-way street) and its tone/purpose (competitive or cooperative).

What is an example of a meaningful conversation? ›

For example, if you want to have a meaningful conversation with a coworker, ask them about what brought them to the job or what they enjoy about it. You can also ask where they'd like to see themselves or what their career goal is.

How do you start a deep conversation over text? ›

25 Deep Questions To Text Your Crush That'll Spark Conversation
  1. What Does Your Perfect Day Look Like? ...
  2. What's Something You've Done That You're Most Proud Of? ...
  3. What's Your Worst Habit? ...
  4. What Is Something That Really Scares You, But You'd Like To Do Anyway?
Sep 27, 2017

How do you start a conversation online without being creepy? ›

It can be hard to start a conversation with a girl you don't know. We'll offer you some help how to start a conversation with a girl online without being creepy.
Just Ask
  1. Do you have time to talk?
  2. Can I flirt with you?
  3. Can I PM you?
  4. I'd like to talk to you, will you be on here for a while?
Feb 18, 2020


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