The great thing about social networking is that you can create significant relationships with people right from your computer. But make no mistake, an online relationship is no substitute for an offline one.
Meeting your online business connections face-to-face can greatly help your professional growth, as well as your company’s.
There’s an old saying that people buy from people they like. The same is true for referring opportunities and even clients to people — people will only do it for you if they like and trust you. (And the reverse is certainly true.) If you have trusted relationships with people, they’ll help you. If you don’t, they won’t.
To get to know these people, a coffee or lunch meeting is always the best. Find a coffee shop that’s conveniently located to both of you, and meet for an hour.
The point is not to sell to the other person (or let them sell to you). In fact, the best networkers rarely talk about themselves. They let the other person do the talking, and then see if they can find ways to help them. Ask them about how they got started in their business, where they worked in the past, what do they enjoy most about their job now.
But don’t limit it to just talk about work. Talk about your families and your hobbies. Talk about where you grew up, and what high school was like. Talk about that funny thing you both shared on Twitter. Just talk about the things people normally talk about.