Are you wondering if you should start your own virtual group? How do you even go about it successfully? For some, it might be as simple as picking a video chatting platform, messaging your friends, choosing a time, and hitting “join meeting”. For some of us, it might take a bit more planning to connect on our own terms.
Creating and sustaining our connections with people helps us stay healthy and mentally grounded. Having people to turn to can be fundamental in healing and in dealing with everyday thoughts, including your worries. It’s also a great way to remember how fortunate you are, and what makes you happy!
It’s never too late to start developing your own community. All you need for a successful virtual group is an agreement on video chatting platform, a way to message such as over group email or Facebook group, and a schedule (even a loose one) that everyone can commit to. To start your own virtual group, you can begin with listening to yourself – not your parents, not your kids, not your spouse – to dictate what you truly like, want, and need.
Step 1: Acknowledge any setbacks
Are you afraid of rejection? Or have you not found the time?
Rejection is a strong, very common fear, and we tend to feel emotional repercussions of it before or if it even happens. Acknowledge the fear and keep moving forward step by step. Don’t think big picture yet, just think about the next small step. You can do one step a day, or every few days if it feels overwhelming. Take it as slow as you need.
Maybe the problem is that you haven’t found the time. Sometimes, sending a message to one or two people is all it takes to get the ball rolling. You can also schedule little bits of time here and there for yourself to go through the steps below. For example, set aside five minutes after dinner or as you’re drinking your morning coffee.
Step 2: Define A Purpose For Your Virtual Group
It doesn’t have to be super specific. Just make sure it’s something you’re craving!
Creative support, Personal projects, and Hobbies:
- Start a creative workshop group.
- Important: create a consistent schedule that you can commit to. Make it as easy as possible! Map out a rough (or detailed) syllabus to help you stay consistent.
Build or Strengthen relationships with family, friends, and others:
- At least at first, keep topics light and fun, so that people can relax and get to know each other. For example, make a dance night. You might learn that Cousin Chrissy actually enjoys heavy metal! Grandpa Willis might show you a whole new appreciation for soul music with his rad moves!
Support through a challenge or experience:
If you’re looking to talk to people who have gone through a similar experience as you, you can make that your virtual group topic.
- Make it clear if you want an environment to express feelings without the expectation and pressure of finding solutions. You just need a space to externalize what you’re going through. Ex: “Hey buds I just need to vent without suggestions! Today…”
- Create a place for sharing gratitude and affirmations, like a group chat or Facebook group for daily posts. This is great for sending morning messages about how thankful you are for that first sip of lemon tea!
- You can have a specific time for weekly video chats or messaging to get more in-depth. This is great to do with a single friend or two.
Virtual social event ideas:
- Movie night
- Happy hour
- Dance party
- Dinner party (Try this guide!)
- Fashion (Try-Everything-In-Your-Closet-On) party
- Copying fun internet trends, like compiling a medley video of you and your group singing your fave song
- Art-making or craft-making party
- Reading a book out loud together (act out the parts. It can be hysterical and fun, especially for the actors in your group!)
- Study group (you don’t even have to be working on the same thing. Just share space!)
Step 3: Who do you want to connect with in your virtual group?
Will you reach out to your family, friends, strangers, or any combination of the three?
Try Reddit or public posts on social media if you want to reach out to the world.
For family and friends, social media posts, email, and group texts are a great way to get into contact with everyone at once. Keep in mind, mass texts are best used sparingly, as they can feel obnoxious.
Step 4: Interest Check
- Post on social media, or message specific people, to see who would like to make this commitment with you.
- Start with a small audience if you’re feeling hesitant. Make sure you have a solid one or two people who will help you organize if you want extra support and if you have the option.
- In your message, describe what it is you’d like to do with your group. Name your subject and say who is invited. Family, friends, is it open to friends-of-friends? Decide on how many people you need to commit to your idea. When that many people have committed, move on to the next step.
Step 5: Decide on a platform
When deciding on a platform, a lot rests on the preferences of your group members and what apps they already have or are willing to try based on what others already know.
- Gmail (Click here for instructions on how to create a group in Gmail)
- Social Media messaging on Facebook or Instagram
- Group Texts
Video chat options:
For a group meant for daily posts, a group on Facebook works. Or, if not everyone has social media, a group text made just for your topic; for example, only daily gratitude and affirmations.
Step 6: Schedule
Even if it’s loose, some kind of a check-in time is helpful for sustaining the connection. Decide if it’ll be weekly, monthly, etc.
Use Google forms to collect schedule information from a lot of people at once.
Step 7: Do what feels right and keep an open mind!
Make your session comfy and appealing! Decorate, wear what you want, have some tea or snacks, and allow yourself to have fun with your surroundings in a way that you haven’t before!
It might not all work out perfectly at first. Be open to experimentation with your platforms and schedule. People may fluctuate or drop out of contact. It isn’t personal. People function differently and this may be new for many.
Free yourself of expectations. No matter what, you’re learning more about how you can truly flourish by putting yourself out there.