One of the most fun ways to get to know some other singles is to chat with them online. Chat rooms are not a new concept, they, along with forums were one of the first "social" types of website commonly used, and have been popular for well over a decade. There are all sorts of different niches for chat rooms, and a huge number of dating chat rooms exist so it is very easy to refine the ones you are using down to people in your area, age group, or by just about any other criteria (religion, sexuality, even profession).
Most o the time, you start off in a public chat session where everybody who is talking can see everybody else's messages. You can see profiles for all of the other users if they have set them up, so you can have a look at who is online. You can then start private chats with people you get talking to if you want, or just stay in the public messaging area.
Because of advances in technology, chat rooms allowing extra features like voice and video chat are also available, so if you have a web cam you can even set it up so you can see the person you are talking to and vice versa.
There are countless sites offering online dating chat rooms, some of these are free and some you have to pay to use, usually by way of a monthly subscription. The paid ones are generally the safest, because people have paid to go on there they are serious about meeting somebody and so you don't get any time wasters who have just gone on there to mess around and annoy people. Also, the paid ones tend to have the same users appearing on them more regularly, so if you meet someone you like you are more likely to see them again in there if you didn't exchange contact details. The free ones can be just as good, but you may have to try a few before you find one you like.
Many of the bigger online dating sites also offer a chat facility. This can be really good, because you can get talking to different people but you always have access to their profile so you can find out all about them quickly and easily, unlike with a lot of free online chat rooms where people can, if they choose to, join just by creating a screen name. If you are planning to use an online dating service, have a look to see what sort of chatting facilities the sites you are considering have to offer. It can be much easier to get to know people using text or video chat than by email alone.
Chatting can be a really good way to start off a new online dating relationship. If you find someone you can easily spend lots of time chatting to online then that can be a great start, and with video chat you can have lots of fun and also be reassured that the photos they use on their profiles are accurate!