A Rice University study found that found that the more sub communities of which you’re a part, the more likely they are to become an opportunity to forge connections. 

Let’s face it, making new friends is no easy feat. The problem of loneliness seems to be impacting people all over the world. The UK has appointed a lonelinesses minster to help tackle the “sad realities of modern life,” and Japan is promoting robot companions to stop people from feeling desolate and alone.  In the US, 18 to 22 year olds are at greatest of risk of feeling lonely, but one in three people over the age of 45 have said they also suffer from isolation.

So it’s no surprise that more and more of us are turning to the internet to find a new social group with whom to hang out. A Pew report from 2015 revealed that 57 percent of teens have met a new friend online, with social media being the most popular way people connect. Now a new study has discovered that it’s the trick to making friends is by joining as many online communities as possible.

Recently, data scientists at Rice University analyzed six separate online social networks, with millions of members, and found that the more sub communities of which you’re a part, the more likely they are to overlap and in turn the opportunity to forge connections.  “If a person is looking for friends, they should basically be active in as many communities as possible,” said Anshumali Shrivastava, assistant professor of computer science at Rice and co-author of the study. “And if they want to become friends with a specific person, they should try to be a part of all the groups that person is a part of.”

Although the exact data is thin on the ground, the avenues to find likeminded friends online are endless. Eight years ago, Facebook reported to have indexed over 620 million Facebook groups. Since then, it’s easy to image that number has grown beyond recognition.

“Communities are having events and activities all the time, but some of these are a bigger draw, and the preference for attending these is higher,” Shrivastava said.  “It seems that the most effective way is to encourage people to form more subcommunities. The more subcommunities you have, the more they overlap, and the more likely it is that individual members will have more close friendships throughout the organization. People have long thought that this would be one factor, but what we’ve shown is this is probably the only one you have to pay attention to.”

Being gregarious might come more naturally to some than others, but if this study is anything to go by it might be time to fake it till you make it.