One of my Mom’s favourite expressions is “A change is as good as a rest”. It’s a great rule to live by (have I mentioned my Mom is the wisest woman I know?). Moving outside of your typical day to day experiences can be a challenge sometimes, but a fresh approach is almost always a good idea.

The other night I helped a friend of mine move into her new apartment. This new place is a positive change for her and her kids. It’s a beautiful place with a great vibe and a homey feel. As I left her place that night, I could sense that she felt really at peace in her new space. All of the stresses of her day to day life seemed to have just melted away. Change, as scary as it can be sometimes, is often all that is needed to put a new perspective on things.

The Web world is changing at such a fast pace that it sometimes seems overwhelming. That’s why it’s ironic that, when it comes to social networks, it’s easy to get stuck in the same old patterns. We have an almost unlimited number of connections we can make online, yet we do have a tendency to migrate towards those people who are familiar to us. Then we proceed to have the same conversations with those people. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having close connections and close friends online – quite the contrary. Building a strong relationship based on trust, camaraderie and mutual respect are critically important to the strength of the whole community.

However, it can become unhealthy to stay within the same bubble all the time. After all, isn’t the whole point of social media to connect with many people?

Are you stuck in your ways online? A little too comfy in your social networking circles? Like in offline life, it’s really easy to get stuck in the same crowd, having the same conversations. Once in a while, we all need to branch outside of our comfortable circle of friends and connections sometimes, and have some new experiences.

How does one bust out of their cozy Internet existence? It’s pretty easy, actually. Here are a few tips:

Follow some new people. Seek out some new blogs. There’s lots of ways to do this – you can search topics of interest in your Google Reader, make a visit to Alltop, or ask some people you trust to recommend some good blogs to you. But don’t just read. Leave some comments. Get involved in the community. You’ll be amazed with the new people you can meet by taking this one simple step. If you’re on Twitter, find some interesting new people to follow. Here’s a few giveaways for you: @jeffparks, @Stacerella, @PressReleasePR, and @MackCollier.

Go to a meetup. Just about every major city in North America seems to have meetups now. Sometimes they are called Tweetups (if they are organized through Twitter). It’s a fantastic way to meet new people, and hey, there’s something to be said for doing the live and in person thing. You can seek out meetups in your town by going to http://www.meetup.com/. Don’t have any meetups in your town? Organize one! Also, if you are visiting a new city, check out the meetups that are happening in that city, and get your butt down there! It’s always a blast to meet new folks, but sometimes it’s even more fun to meet people who, until now, you’ve only known online.

Use Twitter Search. I have a friend who is really into soccer. He was asking me yesterday what Twitter is all about, and I told him to go to Twitter Search and poke in “World Cup Soccer” and he’ll see a whole list of people who are talking about his passion. The point is, there are entire communities of people out there who are talking about the things you are interested in. In to aviation? Do a Google Blog Search. Dig on blues music? Search it out on or Twitter Search. Find the communities you want to be a part of. Then get involved. It’s that simple!

So that’s it! Though it’s wonderful to exist in an online world where you know you’re among friends, building comfortable connections and discovering things together, maybe it’s time to break free a little more and see what else is going on around you that might enrich your experience.

What about you? What’s the best new connection you’ve made in the past little while?