I heart Twitter, and Tumblr, and LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Can’t get enough. These platforms allow me to connect with people I might never meet in real life, regardless of time or distance. But ultimately for Twitter, or any other social network, to be truly valuable, I need to bridge the gap from the digital world to the real world. And I have; I met my lawyer and my publisher through Twitter connections.
Critics worry that social networks are replacing our ability to connect in person; not true. Most of the Twitter connections I make happen after 9 p.m. when my day’s work is done and my house is quiet. It’s highly unlikely I’m going to be out of the house and “in the real world” at that time. But I can still have interesting conversations, meet new people, advocate for important causes, discover a great meme. Social networks don’t replace my real life connections; they extend them.
And then, it’s incumbent on me to turn some of those connections into real life relationships. It’s easy. I schedule two lunches per month with someone from my network who lives or works nearby. And when I’m travelling, I reach out to my networks to see who is based in my destination city, and I meet up with them. Sometimes there’s a real-life connection; occasionally I wish I kept the relationship digital. Either way, if I’m not going to take my online connectiosn into the real world, what’s the point? Because ultimately, people do business with and relate to people; not Twitter accounts.