Transitioning online contacts into offline friendships

I’ve made many wonderful connections through the social web, but the magic really happens when I’ve strengthened those bonds by turning those online friends into offline relationships. I had some cool experiences last week that I wanted to share with you.

Amy Howell and I have become fast Twitter friends and cemented our relationship a few months ago when she visited me during a business trip to our area. I was able to return the favor last week when she hosted Chris Brogan at a community event in Memphis. While it was great to meet Chris, it was even more rewarding to meet a dozen or so of my other close Twitter friends for the first time like Jeremy Victor, Kathy Snavely, Eric Fletcher, Glen Gilmour, Kent Huffman, Anne Gallaher and Ryan Sauers.  Who knows where new friendships like this will lead?

On my way to Memphis I stopped in Nashville to have lunch with another Twitter friend Laura Click. I was moved by the flooded devastation in this nearby city and Laura’s own personal story.  She agreed to write a guest post about her experiences and we are also exploring ways to work together on some other upcoming projects. I’m sure we would not have found these synergies without taking the time to meet face to face.

After my trip to Memphis, I drove to  Indianapolis to give a speech at the American Public Power Association conference. Yes, I spent a lot of time in the car last week! So I tried an experiment — could I use this time productively to “meet” even more of my Twitter friends?  I sent out a tweet inviting folks to call me during my drive to talk about any marketing topics on their mind.  Not only was this a pleasant way to pass the time, I was able to help one contact with a job lead and another call resulted in a possible consulting engagement for me.

Twitter is such a powerful networking tool but you can really unleash its power by connecting in the offline world too! Have you had similar experiences?

My week in pics: 1) Laura Click 2) Jeremy Victor 3) Eric Fletcher, Amy Howell, Jim Howell, Glen Gilmour, 4) Trey Pennington 5) Amy Howell 6) Kathy Snavely

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  • I hope I’m the first to comment! Mark, you are living proof of the power of connections! Thx for investing what I know will pay off! I have one final word: iPad! :)) and a smiley face. A

  • I like this post, Mark. Making connections is always interesting. I had the opposite friend-flow at a conference last week… meet 1st, tweet 2nd. Although, it doesn’t seem quite as exciting in this order. Maybe one day I can take your approach!

  • Mark, you are always one step ahead of me. I was just thinking about this very topic, but, once again, you blog about it before me 🙂 In fact, just this week I made a Twitter list of people I’ve met offline. I hope to add you to that list in the near future.

    Here in Louisville, a Twitter friend organizes the Louisville Geek Dinner. It is the perfect opportunity to connect offline with online friends. I have also found that meeting in real life enhances, strengthens, and solidifies the online relationship.

  • Mike C., I usually find myself in the same position – chasing down blog posts before Mark gets to them!

  • Mark

    You guys crack me up. Staying one step ahead is not easy when it comes to you two but I’ll take it. And I am sure I will meet you both soon in one way or another!

  • Looking forward to meeting you in person one of these days Mark. This will happen.

  • It was a pleasure to meet you last week, Mark! I’m glad you looked me up on your way through Nashville. You’re right – the best aspect of social media is transforming online connections to offline relationships. In fact, I wrote a blog post for Nicole VanScoten on this very topic: http://www.nicolevanscoten.com/seven-tips-for-developing-relationships-online

    Thanks again for the shout out and for your thoughts on this topic.

  • Dan Levine

    Still waiting to connect in person, Mark — hopefully one day soon. I agree 100%. Fantastic to connect on Twitter, LI & other SM outlets, but even more valuable to put a real-life personality to the online persona. Takes the connection to a whole different level and makes the future online interaction that much stronger.

  • Make connections, start relationships, and {grow} … this is the promise of the social web.

    But that promise will go unfulfilled without effort. Like all relationships, personal and professional – you only get out of them what you put in.

    Connecting to the social web does nothing; listening, engaging and interacting is the fuel that moves the online contacts into offline relationships.

    It was a great pleasure to finally meet and spend time with you last week in Memphis. As I said to Billy, in a strange way, it almost felt like I’ve always known you.

    Here’s to what the future holds for all of us that met last week in Memphis.

  • To use your words, “Social media networking is networking on steroids.” I appreciate Jeremy’s comments, as well, and firmly believe that you can only withdraw what you deposit in the virtual bank of networking. I enjoyed our conversation during your drive time last week, Mark – and know our paths will cross in person.

  • Kathy Snavely

    Here, here, Jeremy! The meeting IRL (in real life) of so many folks we’re met on Twitter was awesome last week in Memphis. These IRL conversations can confirm what we’ve discovered about folks online; they can also throw up a caution flag, when we can pick up signals in person that we can easily miss online. But, more about that on my first blog post in June. You are a FIND, my friend. Those of us who met in Memphis (thanks to the illustrious Amy Howell) may be in the process of unwrapping a marvelous gift. Looking forward to the possibilities!

  • Mark, One of the first “Social Media” conferences I attended was the Inbound Marketing Summit last year in San Francisco.

    As much as I learned from the presentations, I couldn’t help but notice how so many in attendance seemed to already know each other. Most of them seemed like they were meeting old friends.

    Now I understand why. They were way ahead of me and already knew each other via social media. The best return on my investment of time in social media, especially twitter, has been the people I’ve met.

    My focus is more business than personal and I’ve now met more talented, passionate professionals in the past two years via twitter (and following their blogs), than I had met in the previous 25 years of my career.

    Like you I now have many more connections thanks to twitter. And I’m finding more ways to collaborate on projects and enjoying opportunities to meet in person with other members of my “twitter tribe”.

    Meeting so many friends for the first time in person at last week’s #BroganMemphis event was not just fun, it helped to further develop business contacts that I know I’ll be working with, or referring work to, in the future.

  • Ike

    Connections are empty until you do something with them.

    Much of the backlash against online connectivity has to do with the quality that often lacks when there is an overabundance of quantity.

    I’m happy to say that I have had actual voice conversations (even in person!) with many of the people I’ve connected with online. Much success!

  • Ike – Your ears should have been burning last week because Mark and I talked about you! We both mentioned how we had been “Ike’d”. You should be proud that we’ve coined a new phrase for your style of connecting with people by phone after corresponding online.

  • Mark

    Appreciate all the powerful testimonies! Thanks!

  • Ike

    No, my ears weren’t burning… but it’s good to know that I am responsible for extending the English language!

  • Dan Levine

    Mark, just testing a new avatar … want to put a face to the name finally. Thanks!

  • This is what it is all about! One day, maybe you’ll be able to add our picture assuming we ever actually meet in person! But, I can tell you I’ve met many folks through SM engagement that have turned into long term friends and associates. Some have actually turned into excellent business opportunities. But, I truly hope that SM will never evolve to the point where people find it unnecessary to meet and get to know their contacts personally (even if only a phone conversation).

  • Mark

    It would be a true life disappointment if we do not meet in person and spend some time together Steve!

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  • Mark, as per our conversation on the phone yesterday… you nailed this topic on your blog post. Simply perfect. The powerful thing about social media is the “social human aspects and relationships” behind the Social Media. Thanks for this great post and look forward to seeing you in Atlanta before long. Ryan Sauers

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