Last night I had the pleasure of meeting “in real life” someone that I have known for sometime only from the online world. I’m not sure when I first met Justin Brackett online, but we travel in the same marketing circles and have a lot of friends in common. Justin lives in Asheville, NC, and about a month ago Justin informed me that he was going to be in my neck of the woods for a speaking engagement, and wanted to know if we could get together. And boy am I glad he did.
When Justin finished up in the afternoon he drove the half hour from southern Lancaster County up to my place and picked me up. I gave him a quick tour of the city of Lancaster (which he loved) and then took him out to dinner to a restaurant that is client of mine (which he also loved).
But the cool thing about it is that even though all of our interactions up until have been online, getting together and hanging out seemed so natural. There weren’t any of the “awkwards” as I like to call them. No nervousness, no wondering what the other person would be like. Well, I can’t speak for Justin, but I had a great time and really enjoyed the conversation. We talked about our families, our backgrounds, our work, and a variety of other things. We shared triumphs and war stories related to our respective businesses.
Because many of the online relationships we have are real, despite what the Manti T’eo story might lead us to believe. Over the past few years I’ve developed strong personal and professional bonds with people whom I’ve never met in person. And when I do meet them in person, it’s not a disappointment. You know how you have that good friend from high school or college you haven’t seen in years? And when you reconnect, you pick up where you left off. That’s what this felt like; as if Justin and I had known each other for a long time. In our discussions via G-chat or Google Hangout and the like, we got to know each other. We knew that we actually had quite a bit in common. I know that Justin is the kind of guy I could bounce ideas off of, and I would do the same for him.
As you meet people online and interact with them, publicly or privately, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, the comment section of blogs, or some form of chat program, get to know them. Really know them. Then find ways to meet them.
The first step in this is acknowledging that what happens online IS real life now. To separate the two is a false dichotomy.
Then take it a step further. Be intentional about building relationships and meeting those same people. If you’re anything like me, there are probably a lot of people you know locally online, but have never met in person. Get out there and get together with them. Grab some coffee with a group. And enjoy those friendships.
- When Two Worlds Collide: Social Media Marketing & SEO (hubspot.com)
- These Are My “Real” Friends: Removing the Stigma of Online Friendships (persephonemagazine.com)
- The Importance of Facebook’s New Graph Search (inklingmedia.net)
- Beyond the Facebook Wall: Small Business and Online Engagement (inklingmedia.net)
- When Privacy and Enhanced User Experience Collide Online (inklingmedia.net)