It takes 43 hours to turn acquaintances into casual friends. It takes another 57 hours to transition a casual friend into a close friend. And to turn a close friend into a best friend, it takes another 119 hours. That totals 219 hours to find a best friend.
When it comes to making friends in college, the time spent in-person at school is incredibly important. Between classes, extracurriculars and dorm room living, it’s no coincidence that the average age most people meet their best friends correlates with their time in higher education.
Things look different this year due to remote education. With a free Zoom account, you get 40 minutes of video time. So, how are you supposed to find best friends at school while learning online?
Zoom has become the place where people get married, graduate from high school and go to work — and it can be the place where you meet friends for life. Suggest these activities to do during your class or meeting to bond with peers and create meaningful relationships despite being at a distance.
Jump to the infographic below on how to connect with peers through Zoom!
Duke professor, Dan Ariely, knows how to foster relationships between strangers. A study he performed underscored the importance of cutting through small talk and getting to deeper conversation topics quicker.
The experiment asked some to make conversation organically and others to use meaningful prompts.
It was found that people with the prompts had more engaging discussions. Use these activities to break icy small talk by establishing a connection with peers faster.
- Say hello in different languages. Thinking globally is important in business. So, kick off the conversation by saying hello! in as many languages as you can.
- Describe your life’s story in six words. It can be a metaphor, a list of things you love or words about your hometown, but whatever it is, make sure it’s only six words!
- Draw a picture of why you’re going to school. While art might not be your passion, this icebreaking activity will be a fun way for people to learn about your studies.
- Share your school trepidations. Take the social risk and talk about your greatest anxiety about school. You’ll likely find that people relate.
- You’ve won the lottery, what do you do with the money? Test your peer’s decision-making and cost-analysis skills with this fictitious prompt.
- Explain your childhood dreams. Have you always dreamt of going to business school? Or did you want to become an astronaut instead? Exchange childhood dreams to get a sense of your new friends’ aspirations.
- Walk through your morning routine. Steve Jobs started his mornings by asking himself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today?” Some say it was the cornerstone of his business success. What’s your morning routine?
- Dress up as your spirit animal. Do you have a feisty, lioness attitude or maybe you herd your relatives together like a cattle dog? Show that side of your personality by dressing up on Zoom.
- You’ve invented a time machine, now what? Is there a future Albert Einstein in your cohort? Ask your friend what they’d do if they invented a time machine— maybe they have an invention of their own.
- Give a personal TED Talk. Sharpen those presentation skills while telling a personal anecdote by giving a bite-sized TED Talk.
- Talk startups. Have a business idea? Run through a mock pitch with your peers.
Making a Connection
You’ve broken the ice, now what? The introduction was aimed at starting meaningful conversations so that you can enjoy the discussion. Below we’ve laid out some activities to help build relationships with peers in the virtual classroom:
- Listen to a podcast together. Movies you’re watching, music you’re listening to and shows you’re bingeing are all talked circularly in your day-to-day. Put a spin on that by listening to a new podcast together and sharing insights as a group.
- A 30-day personal growth challenge. Leaders are constantly adapting and growing. Do a 30-day personal growth challenge. You could quit complaining for 30 days or meditate for 30 days. Pick a positive habit for self-betterment and do it with your partner for 30 days!
- Get active. Studies have found that exercise immediately improves our cognitive function. Adjacent research showed that having a workout companion increases the amount of time you exercise. So, make your workout better while improving your brainpower by working out as a group through Zoom.
- Compete in Scattergories. Sharpen your vocabulary by playing Scattergories online. You can easily play online here.
- Have a 30-second dance party. Release those endorphins by having a 30-second dance party. Drop that hard academic facade and let loose!
- Share your baby photos. You’re only seeing someone through the lens of a computer camera, but they have a whole life story. Exchange baby photos to get a peek into that life story.
- Vet each other’s resumes. You’ve reviewed your own resume time and time again. Get a fresh pair of eyes by taking the time to look at each other’s resumes.
- Host a virtual bake-off. Gather all the ingredients for your favorite recipe and set a timer. You and your classmates can go head-to-head (or computer-to-computer), in a virtual cooking contest. Make Gordon Ramsay proud!
- Start a book club. There’s a book for everything. Whether you want to start a clothing line or break into social media marketing, you can learn a lot from books. Start a book club so everyone can learn and share their thoughts. You can kick it off by going through Harvard Business School’s recommended reading list.
- Talk politics. Get into a heated discussion about politics. While this is usually off-limits in some social settings, keeping up with the political climate is important at school. So, get debating!
- Release your inner geek with Kahoot! Test your knowledge by playing Kahoot! There are quizzes on movies, cities and even one on the emoji language.
- Meditate. School is stressful. Take a moment to go through a guided group meditation. A few deep breaths can help focus and energize the conversation.
- Plant show and tell. Boast your green thumb (or lack thereof) by showing off your house plants, or choose another theme based on your friends’ favorite things (for example: throw pillow show and tell).
- Talk gibberish. Not really, but with the game Gibberish. Can you make sense of these random words?
- Lip sync karaoke. It can’t be all work and no play. Lighten the conversation by suggesting a karaoke lip sync battle. May the best lip syncer win!
- Play virtual Olympics. Playing a virtual game is fun, but making a series of games into a competition can get really intense. Host a virtual Olympics with some of the above virtual games and hand out online medals to the victors!
Questions can be difficult to balance in a conversation. You don’t want to ask too many, but you still want to ask some to prompt good conversation. Here are some ways to ask questions to facilitate an engaging conversation, without being overbearing:
- Try “would you rather” questions. Preference questions are good things to know down the line. There is also an infinite number of topics here, so the conversation will never fall flat. Would you rather sit in silence or ask would you rather questions?!
- Talk about likes and dislikes. Favorite sports teams, colors, foods, etc., are not only fun to talk about, but can be telling of someone’s personality.
- Ask for anecdotes. People like to tell stories. One way to frame a question is by asking about someone’s experience on the topic.
- Get your imagination going with “what if?” questions. Let your imagination run loose with “what if?” questions. What if a global pandemic hits and you have to attend school virtually? These are good questions to work out!
- Frame your questions as curiosities. Organically bring up questions by spinning them as curiosities. Saying, “I’m curious about X, could you talk more about it?” is a genuine and gentle way to probe.
- Ask clarifying questions. Whenever something is confusing, ask for clarification. You can better contribute to the conversation if you know exactly what is being talked about.
- Throw in one curveball question. Questions fall into predictable patterns. It’s either a who, what, where, when, why or how? Change things up by coming with a really creative question.
You’ve had an amazing conversation with your peers and now it’s time to close. In any traditional class or meeting, you’d simply go out the door, but with Zoom you don’t have anywhere to go. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be awkward. Here are a few ways to say goodbye while not giving excuses:
- “We’ve covered all the bases.” Once the conversation has hit its natural end, it’s okay to point that out. Saying that you’ve had a wonderful time and gone over everything you wanted to is one way to end and reinforce that it was a good discussion.
- Put the onus on Zoom fatigue. Too much time behind the screen isn’t good for anyone. End the conversation by saying, “I’m going to take a screen break now, I have to rest my eyes, talk soon!” Simple and relatable.
- “Oh, looks like we’ve hit the end of our session.” Depending on your membership, you might not have all day to talk. If it’s a basic plan, you’ll only have 40 minutes. When the Zoom notification pops up that you are over your allotted time, that’s a natural exit.
- “I don’t want to hold you up.” Be cognizant of everyone’s time. If you notice that anyone needs to leave, give them the option to. “Thanks for the talk, I don’t want to hold you up, but let’s connect again soon!”
- Recap the discussion. When conversation runs out, simply summarize the conversation as a way to close. “It was wonderful to talk about X, Y, and Z, look forward to next time!”
- Simply say you need to go. You don’t need a reason to leave if the conversation has reached the end — it’s fine to wrap it up. “I’ve got to go, enjoy the rest of your day!”
Connecting on Zoom can be hard. After all, you’re talking into your computer, instead of face to face with someone. However, making the extra effort by using these Zoom activities can make your remote learning experience a meaningful one.
Even as we transition back to normalcy and return on campus, if you’re looking to attend online business school, learning to build relationships can be transformative.
Sources: The Motivational Grid