Before the internet, creating a friendship with someone was pretty straightforward. Two people went to the same school, attended the same religious group, or worked together. That shared interest proved enough to establish a rapport that eventually blossomed into a friendship. Keeping updated was easy, too. In-person conversation or a good old-fashioned landline phone call sufficed for interaction and the latest news.

Now, there are infinitely more channels of connection and ways to stay in touch with or make new friends. You can call, text, video chat, direct message, or hop on a real-time video game to hang out with friends. And it’s wonderful for staying connected near and far. However, it can be difficult to navigate all of the options available. Here are a few to consider when you’re working on cultivating genuine friendships in a world full of technological options.

Book Connection Time

It feels like everyone has so much going on — probably because they do. From social engagements to work and personal endeavors, it’s no wonder people struggle to make time for loved ones. That’s why it’s increasingly important to book friend time in advance.

Building it into your schedule does a few things that cultivate more genuine interactions. For one, it’s planned. You seek out a day and time that works for everyone involved and commit to it. Second, it’s intentional. You know you’re devoting your time and attention to catching up with friends.

For these reasons, it’s important to get something on the calendar. If you need to change it, fine, but at least you’ve taken the step of putting it in black and white. Plus, when it’s as easy as sending out a quick invite, there’s really no excuse. No matter what calendar platform you use — Google Calendar, Microsoft Calendar, or Calendar — the technology can support your efforts.

From there, you just have to actually make it happen. Text a day ahead of time to make sure you’re still on, and you’re all set. Once you’re done, you’ll feel more connected to your friend and be glad you put in the effort to plan ahead.

Maximize Your Commute

Whether you’re heading to the grocery store or the office, you likely have some sort of commute. You’re taking public transit, hitting the pavement on foot, or driving to get where you need to go. While you’re en route, you’re likely entertaining yourself somehow with audiobooks, music, or podcasts. But if you’re struggling to keep up with friends, your time in traffic or waiting for the subway could be useful.

All it takes is a bit of planning, a phone, and cell service. The rest is just a conversation about life’s happenings with a friend. Aim for one catch-up session a week and go from there. If you get a lot out of your conversations, boost your goal to twice a week. Before you know it, you’ll be more looped into what your friends are doing.

You could even make it a club of sorts for larger friend groups. Instead of reading a book or watching a show, have talking time on a group schedule. Rotate pairs so everyone gets a chance to chat with everyone else in the group.

In addition to saying goodbye to tedious commutes, you’ll maximize the time you’ve already dedicated to something else. While you might not be hitting your yearly reading goal or tuning in to your favorite podcast, you will strengthen genuine friendships. That’s how you build a social life, and you can work it into your schedule for the long haul.

Find Small Points of Connection

Are big time blocks and pre-scheduled digital hangouts, not your style? You’re not alone. If you’re struggling with scheduling or time zones, you’re not destined to be friendless. You simply need to adapt. Small points of connection are the solution you’re after.

The beauty of it is that the options are vast, so there’s something everyone will enjoy. You can snap a photo and caption it to share about a life event like a move or vacation. You can record a voice message for on-demand updates straight from your mouth without requiring a set call time. You can share a story on social media with a select group of friends that includes a fun fact about your day.

The point is to find little, low-effort ways to nurture conversation and awareness of your actions. From there, encourage your friends to do the same. Eventually, even if you’re unable to talk directly for months, you’ll still nourish your friendship.

Keep an eye out for new-to-you social media platforms, too. Options that require quick responses or disappear may incentivize you to reply immediately so you won’t forget. Turn notifications on while you’re at it so you never miss an update. As small as these connection points may be, they’re a great way to mix friendship and technology. Upon closer look, they’re truly a match made in heaven.

Flock to Forums and Groups

Want to form new friendships? Look no further than online forums and groups. The opportunities are vast, with a wide array of options to choose from, spanning nearly every passion, hobby, or interest. All it requires is spending a bit of time seeking out the right community to join.

There are groups for fans of podcasts, pop culture, video games, cooking, sports teams — you name it. Searching for a group that aligns with your interests will likely yield results. From there, you simply have to find the best fit.

Then, you can build friendships entirely online or become part of a bigger network. Many groups offer in-person events for locals where conversations about shared interests flow freely. There’s something for everyone, from conventions and concerts to comedy shows and museums.

Finding collections of people who are like-minded and passionate about the same things you are is incredible. You can build friendships on shared interests that blossom into much more. Who knows, you may discover new things about yourself and find a new skill to master or hobby to take up.

Ditch Texting

The world is accustomed to texting as a primary form of communication. It’s quick, easy, and an efficient use of time. However, it lacks the personality and detail a phone or video call offers. So, if you want to build more genuine, deeper friendships, give texting the boot.

That doesn’t mean you have to ditch it one hundred percent of the time. But you should set out to put more time and effort into talking with your loved ones. Schedule a longer video call instead of back-and-forth texting conversations that span weeks at a time. Oddly, you’ll learn more about what’s going on in your friend’s life than a string of texts could tell you.

Even better, record videos or voice memos recapping happenings big and small. They’re just as convenient as texting and can be done roughly in the same amount of time. However, they add a level of intimacy that friendships need to stay strong.

Of course, you probably have friends who are better suited for in-person conversations. If that’s the case, plan regular dinners or happy hour visits and skip texting aside from coordinating schedules. That way, when you get to hang out, you’re fully present, and both sides can share without fear of repeating themselves.

Get Digital

No two friendships are alike. Some can only survive with daily communication and close proximity, while others require much less maintenance and can be nurtured from afar. However, no matter what best suits your friendships, having options for staying in touch is powerful.

Digital connection builds bridges that would otherwise be inaccessible, so take advantage. Try new platforms or communication styles before deciding they’re not for you. With some trial and error, you’ll learn what works best. When you’re feeling satisfied in your friendships with great people in your corner, you’ll be glad you did.

Featured Image: Motor TruckRun; Pexels