5 Steps for Taking Your Online Connections Off-line

How to create real-world relationships with your social media connections

April 2015

If you have connected to a prospect on LinkedIn or exchanged Twitter barbs with an influential person in your industry, how can you leverage those online connections to help you in the real world?

According to social media expert Mark Schaefer, social media networking is a way to create small interactions that lead to larger engagements, meaningful relationships and business opportunities. Turning online connections into off-line relationships transforms weak links into strong bonds.

Here are five steps you can take to move these online connections off-line.

  1. Identify key contacts. Before you pursue taking an online relationship off-line, establish a goal. Do you want to engage your contact because you think you can help each other generate more business? Is he or she a potential client? Or, do you want to connect with an influencer in your industry? It is unrealistic to try to have relationships with all of your social media connections, so prioritizing is key. 
  2. Create a relationship. If you are using your social channels correctly, you are learning as much about your contacts as you are telling them about you and your business. Create a rapport with the people you want to get to know by commenting on their Facebook posts, retweeting their tweets and endorsing them on LinkedIn. Mutual interaction online makes asking for an off-line call or a meeting over a cup of coffee much easier.
  3. Find common connections. We tend to trust the people we already know. When you look at someone’s profile on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other social platforms, you can see the connections, friends, and followers you have in common. If a colleague or friend knows the online connection you wish to meet, ask for an introduction.
  4. Offer to help. Send links to articles you know your target contact will appreciate. Offer to make a relevant introduction. 
  5. Figure out how to meet up in a convenient way. Big events, such as conferences and business events, are low risk. If you are a member of a professional organization, networking group, or chamber of commerce, offer to bring your contact as your guest. Don’t forget the social part of social media. If your contact posts that he or she is excited for a band to come to town, reach out to see if your contact is going to the concert and interested in meeting up for a pre-show drink.  



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