4 Ways to Open Your Social Circle... Cyber-Style

For female bonding today, the Internet is a girl's best bet. Moving to a new city? Looking for a career change? Want some fun new friends? Meeting new people is easier than you think! Your virtual options are vast -- and here are four to get you started:

It's Mutual

When it comes to meeting people, some favor the anonymity of the Web, while others find it disconcerting. So why not go through mutual contacts? Lynda Radosevich is VP Communications for Visible Path, a company that creates software to connect people through sets of colleagues. She says, "Women have traditionally been more hesitant than men to tap their social network for opportunities. But in the past year or so, there's been an upswing in new technologies that's closing that gender gap." And she has a success story of her own: Recently, Lynda was assigned a project for which she had to choose a known sales expert for a market research report interview. Through Visible Path's database of who knows who in the business world, she discovered that she has a contact in common with the CEO of a very influential sales consulting company. "I called him, and we were granted an interview within a few days," she says. "My natural tendency would not have been to go straight to the CEO -- and whether that's because I'm a woman or not, who knows -- but knowing I had a common contact made me much more comfortable, and that's something technology is enabling."

Lynda adds that there are always opportunities for overlap between networking for business and meeting people for fun; you never know where your new relationships will lead, be it romance, your dream job or a lasting friendship. To make casual connections through your pals instead of your business associates, Lynda recommends Friendster.com, which, like Visible Path, is based on meeting new acquaintances through people you already know. Friendster spokesperson Lisa Kopp says, "In a time when we're all so busy and don't have time to go to dinner parties or join a book club, we value our friendships just as much and are still looking for outlets to form new bonds with other interesting women." She says people use the site's elaborate profiles to find like-minded women for exchanging experiences and advice. "On Friendster, we see women looking for reviews of music and movies, vacation planning input, even job leads. It's a trusted source."

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