Taking Online Social Networking Offline

In Tuesday’s post I mentioned my friend Doug – that’s him in the picture with me. I met Doug on Twitter several months – maybe even a year ago. If you are an HR professional and not a part of the large HR community that exists on social media you are missing out and I’m going to use Doug to tell you why.
I joined Twitter in 2010 as a means to connect with other moms with newborns. I had no idea what I was doing and thought that the mommy community might be able to give me support. It was definitely comforting to jump on Twitter at 3am and chat with other moms who were also up with their little ones. After good success in the mom community I decided to see if there were any other HR peeps using the site for social networking. I didn’t expect to find what I did. There were a ton of them, from all over the world, collaborating, networking and socializing every day. They were learning from each other, encouraging one another and just overall being supportive. I quickly jumped in and was so happy I had found such a large group of like-minded people.
You know the rest of the story. I started blogging, decided to start my own business and am now an official social media and networking evangelist. I tell everyone I know to get on board because it is where stuff happens.
I use social media for business networking – both networking for my business and networking in my business. I use social media as a learning tool. Seriously, the amount of information shared daily from HR pro’s who are way smarter than me is enough to keep me engaged. I use social media to make friends that I otherwise would have never had the opportunity to meet – like Doug.
For a while, I thought the power of online social networking lied in all of the reasons I stated above. I thought it’s purpose in my life was to chat to people online and learn from them. Then I started taking those connections offline and that is where the rubber really meets the road.
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time then you’ve heard about my friend Susan. We connected online, chatted it up for a couple of months and then decided to meet for coffee. We found out we live three minutes apart from each other and the rest is history. Since that meeting we have driven 24 hours over the course of four days together and even started a side venture called Discovering Social. She is a good friend who I would have never met without social media.
Doug is someone who I probably would have never run across in my life outside of social media. He does live across the pond after all. Our progression went from chatting online to a Skype call to lunch with friends while he was in town that led to the conversation that spurred Tuesday’s post, which by the way I’ve now had with a client that could potentially set me up for leadership training. That’s how networking works for you. Not only am I making amazing friends who I have no doubt will be with me for a long time, but it’s helping me in my every day life and business.
So when people now ask where the real power in social networking comes in I tell them it comes when you take it offline. When you are able to move past 140 characters on Twitter to real conversations. That’s powerful.

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