Take the next step: Meet in Real Life

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Two business people shaking handsHow often do you talk to your closest friends? Once a day? On the phone or via text? For me, I talk to my closest friend probably every other day. Now think about how often you converse with your Twitter community. I talk to PRBreakfastClub and #prbc on a daily basis. The great connections I’ve made from Twitter have moved on to other platforms like e-mail and G-chat.

It is amazing the bonds that are built without ever meeting someone in real life. I bet you may not have known that PRBreakfastClub was started with some members having never met each other in real life. Last week was the first time we could say we’ve all finally met in person.  However, I do want to reinforce the importance of face-to-face communication and how to take these connections we’ve made online into “real life.”

  1. Be open to conversing on other platforms besides Twitter. When I first started tweeting, I realized that my banter with my community was a bit over the top. I started to use Twitter like instant messaging. If there is a lot of back and forth I often direct message the individual suggesting to move the conversation to e-mail to dive deeper into the topic. From there it often organically moves to g-chat. For example, I connected with Kasey because of a blog post he wrote that really got me thinking. We started to e-mail and now he’s my favorite person to go to when I need someone to play devil’s advocate.
  2. Share information. Similar to Twitter, use the new platform you’re communicating on to share fun or interesting information. My favorite aspect about G-mail and G-chat is it allows you to add them to your Google reader. This gives you an idea of what they’re interested in and sparks new conversations to continue building your relationship.
  3. Attend tweetups. Tweet-ups are the easiest way to break the ice and meet your Twitter community in real life. Some people are very nervous to meet individually. At a tweet-up everyone’s nervous. Oddly enough, I met most of PRBC at my first ever tweet-up: Masquertweet. I was beyond nervous so I convinced my colleagues to come with me. This way I didn’t feel alone and I had a “go to” person in case I needed one.
  4. For those that are geographically close and comfortable meeting solo, suggest grabbing coffee, tea, lunch, etc. Unless you’re like us crazy PRBC’ers and make a trip to Boston just to visit our dear friends, Jeff and Jay. Regardless when meeting an online friend alone pick a public place and always meet them there. This may sound cautious or like it’s coming from your mother but you can never be too careful.
  5. Don’t be nervous about conversation. Chances are you chat with these people daily, at least Monday through Friday. Use the topics you discuss online to start the conversation. Keep the conversation light and fun. Everyone likes to laugh.

Ever since Masquertweet, I’ve attended a bunch of tweet-ups, went to lunch, or traveled to different cities to meet my favorite online friends. So far my biggest obstacle has been explaining to my family and friends who I’m going to meet and how I know them. My best answer has been “business colleagues.” These are just some ideas that have worked for me. I’d love to hear you’re ideas and experiences.

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  • http://teresacantwell.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/at-the-end-of-the-day-all-you-have-is-passion/ Teresa

    Christina,

    Love this post. It is so true. Most of my close friends and my family are not on twitter and don't understand meeting strangers that I met online. I always have to go back to the fact that I talk to you all more often than I talk to them and that it is basically on a business colleague level (that usually gets them).

    Those of you who know me, know I like to bring people out of their comfort zone – Meeting new people, experience new things, and have a great time while doing it. Twitter has been a great vehicle for this process.

    Bravo on encouraging others to step outside of twitter and meet face-to-face. At the end of the day it is all about connections, but what is better than “in-person” connections.

    T

  • http://twitter.com/CTMichaels CTMichaels

    #6 Don't be a douche bag. Honestly, act in person as you do online, or else your just going to look like a fool. Thx.

  • http://twitter.com/tjdietderich TJ Dietderich

    Agreeing with CT here! There's no reason to be nervous if you're the nice, interesting person people gravitated toward when not in person.

  • jeffespo

    CT hits it on the head with the DB comment. One of the biggest turnoffs with meeting some folks in IRL is when they aren't as advertised. This can be anything from acting holier than thou, isolating and beckoning folks at a Tweet up with hand gestures or just being a dick.

    Those kind of behaviors make it harder to bring the trust full-circle that was established online.

    Love them or hate them guys like Chris Brogan and Gary Vaynerchuck will talk to anyone at a conference. You just have to be yourself and say hi back. Same holds true to the Tom, Dicks and Harry's that you tweet with.

    And I owe you Teej and Kate a visit to your area as well. We'll just need to find a non-scary movie.

  • mikeschaffer

    Fantastic tips! (And I do love CT's #6)

    Meeting people face-to-face has been my favorite part of being in the online community. (And a NY/Bos trip is in the works!)

    I'm assuming I'm like most of the PRBC community (writers and readers) in that we use Twitter, etc, as a professional resource – but REALLY, REALLY enjoy the relationships we make.

    Going to Tweet-ups and Social Media Breakfasts have allowed me to meet some incredible people inside and outside of PR, many of whom I'm proud to call close friends now.

    The real point behind this is that we are all living, breathing people, not just tiny square photos, and that is the beauty of this community.

  • http://twitter.com/AmandaOleson Amanda Oleson

    Awesome post Stina! Some of my current favorite people are those that I've connected with through Twitter, and then met in real life. (Like all of you NYC folks!) Sure, it can be a bit daunting to step outside of your comfy spot in front of your computer- but it's so worth it! You just have to remember that your Twitter folks WANT to know you, and garner a great relationship! Hugs and cocktails with Twitter friends are way better than virtual high-fives! :)

  • http://twitter.com/KOttavio Kate Ottavio

    I have to throw in my 2 cents on this thought, Jeff and CT. I've heard a number of times that I'm not the person people thought I was from my 'Twitter persona.' I've heard I'm a bit more fun and less censored IRL. Both true. I even asked Stina if I'm being fake since I've apparently mislead people who have met me IRL. She maintains it's not fake. I just hold myself to specific guidelines for what I will and will not post permanently on the Internet. Meeting in person, I’m much more relaxed and open to people.

  • jeffespo

    I wish I had your sense of censorship at times Kate. It could also be said that you come as advertised and were exactly what I assumed you would be.

    I just get put off by folks that you meet and click with online and then in person it is a 180 and they are more or less fall into the DB category.

  • http://twitter.com/KOttavio Kate Ottavio

    Thanks, Jeff. I'm flattered.

    I know exactly what you mean. The “man, you were so much cooler online, I almost wish we hadn't met IRL.” Everything is ruined! <dramatic gasp>

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  • http://twitter.com/stina6001 Christina K

    Thanks for commenting Teresa. You're absolutely right, we need to allow ourselves to step out of our comfort zone a bit.

    For example, the other weekend it was a great time meeting everyone at the Karaoke tweet up. It helps to build a relationship when you get “face” time.

  • http://twitter.com/stina6001 Christina K

    Kate I wouldn't call you fake. I'd call you appropriate. You know when to let your hair down and when to be professional.

    One thing I did notice about meeting people in real life is that it is easier to be funny or witty online than in person. There's that barrier when behind a computer that isn't there in person.

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    Interesting as I always find it easier to be funny online than in person. Perhaps it's my particular brand of humor :)

  • http://twitter.com/stina6001 Christina K

    I joined Twitter to learn about PR and make connections. At least those were my intentions at first. But now after a year of being an active member of our community I'm here for the relationships and whether that helps me professionally or not doesn't matter as much.

    I've made great relationships off of Twitter. I'm even attending a friend wedding that I met only a year ago because of it :).

  • http://twitter.com/stina6001 Christina K

    Amanda it was so great to meet you!

    I think my other favorite thing about Twitter is I have a better excuse to travel the country. I need to head out your way and meet some more fabulous people that I never would've connected with before.

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