You’ve taken the time to build your online community of key people that you want to know better and may even want to do business with one day. You engage your community in conversation and you really feel like you’re building a strong base. However, you have more than 1000 contacts and you don’t really know what to do next.
How do you bring your online contacts into the real world?
Here are some tips:
Invite your “friend” to breakfast
For starters, if you feel like you have a strong relationship with someone online, invite him/her for breakfast or coffee. Once you have a date , don’t feel uncomfortable. You already know the person from talking online so the conversation shouldn’t feel awkward. It should feel natural and relaxed.
Continue to attend networking events
Even though you are online, it doesn’t mean that you should stop all of your other marketing activities. You will be pleasantly surprised when you bump into one of your social networking friends and alreay feel like you know that person.
Establish a networking group
You may consider inviting key “friends” from your social networking site to a networking event at your office or in a local coffee shop or diner. When I opened an office to Rochester, NY didn’t know anyone in town. I knew my Vice President and she knew a few people, but for the most part we were starting from scratch.We set up a Rochester networking group on Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo hoping that our upstate friends would join. To our surprise, we had more than 50 people join up. Every month thereafter, we would meet with various professionals in Rochester for dinner or drinks after work. This helped us to develop stronger relationships in Rochester and the upstate area.
Taking your online community off line is easier than you think. You just need to make a concerted effort to do. Don’t procrastinate and get to work! You will be surprised at how fast you build your business and get new friends along the way.
After that, stay in contact with each either through the social networking site where you both met or via email. The more you talk, the more likely you will be doing business with this person or maybe even getting referrals.