Balls of Steel: Taking Your Online Network Offline

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“Collecting” people online is easy, but turning that list of social media usernames into a real-life network takes hard work.

How does one cross over the virtual barrier?

Simple – open your mouth and ask for what you want.

Think about how many people you run across on a given day while on Stage 32, Twitter, Google+, or any one social website. For me, it’s thousands upon thousands. How I turn those relationships into real friendships and partnerships is by tweeting or messaging people, asking for an in-person meeting.

Whether it’s NYC, L.A., or an airport bar on my way through a city, if I know I’m traveling somewhere, I ask my online network who’s game to meet.

Why not just keep chatting online?

Because once you’ve shaken someone’s hand, you instantly become “real”.

Becoming “real” isn’t simply an excuse to belly up to a bar in a strange city and sling back a few tequila shots. If I’m considering working with someone, or pulling them closer into my world, I need to see the whites of their eyes.

Nothing beats looking someone in the eye and seeing if your Spidey senses tingle.

I may miss a bull slinger who hides behind a profile picture, but there’s no way she’ll hide any jerkitude while I’m staring into her pupils.

You have to know if someone is worthy of your trust if you’re going to collaborate together. Don’t just jump into bed with them because they presented a beautiful online package of themselves. Trust me, anyone can do that. Even Jabba the Hutt can make it appear he’s a twenty-something Fabio if he thought it would serve his purposes.

If I meet someone who doesn’t look anything like their profile picture, I instantly think “what else are they lying about?” It’s not that I care if they are twenty pounds heavier and ten years older, I simply don’t respect the bait and switch approach. Own who you are, what you look like, and how you present yourself.

Being real is far more attractive and trustworthy than being beautiful.

Beyond asking if people want to meet me, I also ask myself, “What can I do in return for them?”

When I’m in L.A., I have several group meetings with online friends. They aren’t random happenings. I carefully consider who would enjoy meeting whom, and how can I accomplish getting those people together in a room. Every person is deliberately chosen, not for my benefit, but for theirs. I want each friend to walk away feeling their life is a bit richer because they said yes to that meetup.

Warm and fuzzy feelings about an event will lead to warm and fuzzy feelings about you.

That’s also applies to online sites. Introduce people to each other who you think would benefit from the new connection. Ultimately, the goal of any social network site is to help each other. Put the selfishness aside, and bring your generosity to the table.

As I often say, paying it forward will pay you back tenfold.

Bottom-line: It’s easy to trust people when you’re chatting and being polite in the safety of your home with thousands of miles between you. But when you’re contemplating creating a project with a virtual stranger, and take a risk that could affect your career, you really need to know who you’re dealing with.

Now I probably scared you into thinking Hannibal Lecter is on Stage 32. I assure you, he’s not… he’s on Facebook.

Note: I wanted to lay some groundwork on how you should behave online, because next week, I’m going to address those who misrepresent themselves and why a simple “white lie” can be the death of your career and reputation. Stay tuned for Balls of Steel: Liar, Liar, Career on Fire.

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2 thoughts on “Balls of Steel: Taking Your Online Network Offline

  1. Rachel

    If you’re ever in Atlanta please include me in any meetup! @RachelChirps (And timing: Just yesterday I took the silly ostrich-looking bird picture off my Twitter profile and put a “real” picture from just a few months ago up – so you’ll be able to recognize me! 🙂 )

    Great article, Jeanne. Thanks!

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