How to Build Powerful In-Person Networks From Your Social Contacts

social media how toWould you like to make lasting contacts from your social media friends and fans?

According to a Harvard Business Review blog post entitled, “Three New Networks for the Digital Age,” just having an online network isn’t enough.

In this post, I’ll explore steps you can take to turn those online contacts to offline business relationships. I’ll use the thought of heading to a large event or conference as the stake in the ground so you have a “when and where” for connecting with some of your online contacts.

Here are 8 things you can do to turn social media contacts into offline business relationships.

#1: Get Clear on Your Goals

Start out by using a tool like Evernote to capture some of your thoughts.

evernote

Evernote allows you to create your plans in a linear fashion.

Capture what you’re currently working on, your current goals, the people you think can help you move your goals forward and what you’re currently looking to learn. (You may or may not actually have a name for your direction, but a title will do—think of creating a networking persona.)

If you’re less of the linear type, you can use a mind-mapping tool like MindJet.

mindjet

MindJet allows you to create your plans in a non-linear fashion.

Being clear on your goals, the kinds of people who can help you and what you want to learn helps narrow down the list of people in your network with whom you would like to connect.

#2: Gather Your Contacts

Next, you have to set up a system that’s going to help you learn as much as you can about your soon-to-be-offline contacts.

Tools like Engagio can help pull together your contacts from Twitter, email, Facebook and LinkedIn and keep track of their social media activity in one location.

You want to know when your contacts get that promotion or when they express frustration with their new tax guy (really helpful to know if you are in the tax business).

engagio

Engagio allows you to keep track of social media conversations in one place.

#3: Meet Virtually

After doing the recon and getting a sense of what is going on with your target contacts, the next step is to go from text to video communication.

Video moves you from being another tweet or Facebook message to an actual person. Nothing beats being able to look someone in the eye and see their expression/reaction to something you just said. You just can’t get that with Twitter or Facebook.

You can use a tool like Skype or a Google+ Hangout to make the visual connection.

skype call

Skype is a great way to move relationships from text to video. I like to call it virtual coffee (BYOC).

Of course you can never tell if someone is dressed nicely from the waist up while wearing PJ bottoms, but that shouldn’t matter. The trick to video chat as you move your relationship closer to meeting face to face is a little bit of preparation and a whole lot of curiosity about the other person.

You want to learn their backstory, but for that first chat, don’t take too deep of a dive and ask them to tell you their deepest, darkest secret. Yes, someone actually asked me that on our first Skype call.

#4: Remember People

You’re a busy professional and one of the biggest challenges in keeping a network alive is to remember to reach out. There are several tools you can use to help you set up reminders.

Ming.ly lets you choose the frequency of your interactions with your contact and sends you a message if you haven’t reached out in the selected time-frame.

The idea here is to put yourself in a “set it and forget it” mode while still staying top of mind before actually meeting in person.

mingly

Ming.ly helps you to remember to reach out regularly to the people who matter in your professional network.

#5: Acknowledge People

Let people know that you’re looking forward to meeting them in person. You can leverage Twitter to send a quick message like, “Hey @Joe, great Skyping with you. Can’t wait to meet you in person at #SMMW13.”

There’s no doubt that there are people you would like to meet, but haven’t connected with yet. Put out the following message: “Who else is going to Social Media Marketing World in April?”

Once you get a response, you can reply and also take the opportunity to put your recon (see step #2) skills into action to learn more about the person who replied to you. Is he/she someone you would like to connect with in person?

Start following the person on different social media platforms, listen to his/her social media conversations and propose a 15-minute Skype session to get to know each other better.

#6: Connect People

“Your network should be wide and deep,” said Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of Business Networking International (BNI) and The Referral Institute.

This advice is valuable because you want to be known as a giver; someone who will help others solve problems by introducing them to people with the expertise they’re looking for.

Groups on different social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn serve as an excellent place to ask questions like, “Does anyone in our group focus on podcasting for beginners? If so, I’d love to chat for 5 minutes.”

Once you validate connections, ask them if they mind if you introduce them to someone who could use their expertise.

The introduction can sound something like this: “Joe, meet Sue. I thought with your mutual interest in podcasting, it made sense that you two know each other. I’ll let you take it from here.”

You may not have both parties’ email addresses, but if you’re all on Facebook, a private message to both is a great way to go.

facebook message

Use the social media platforms you are familiar with, like Facebook, to connect great people.

#7: Have Fun and Capture the Moment

When I recently arrived early to a Seth Godin event, I ran into Seth himself in the hallway and quickly let my friends on Path know. One of my friends quickly responded, “With no pic, it didn’t exist.”

path

Capture the moments when you meet people at events.

Be sure to capture the moment when you finally turn your online contact to an offline relationship, or as I like to call it, turn #HashtagsToHandshakes.

Path is a great way to share information and link it to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr. Path serves as an excellent recordkeeper because of its search functionalities. It’s handy when you want to go back and research exactly when you first met someone face to face and at what event.

#8: Attend Conferences

An excellent opportunity to turn your online contacts to offline contacts is at conferences. They already serve as a natural filtration system based on the topic of the conference.

I’ll be helping facilitate in-person contacts at Social Media Marketing World. I hope to meet you there!

Social Media Marketing World is Social Media Examiner’s latest mega-conference—taking place at the waterfront San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina in San Diego, California on April 7-9, 2013.

As you’d expect, Social Media Examiner recruited the biggest and best names in the world of social media marketing for this conference. Only the best for you! Be sure to check it out.

Watch this video to get a quick overview of Social Media Marketing World.

What do you think? What’s the next event or conference you’ll be attending? What tip(s) above will you experiment with? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Mike Bruny

Mike "Ambassador" Bruny is a conference networking speaker, certified life coach and author. He helps make conferences a great place to network through his “hashtags to handshakes” philosophy. Other posts by »




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  • Catie Waters

    Great tips – going to check out the apps you listed. Thanks!

  • Catie Waters

    Great tips – going to check out the apps you listed. Thanks!

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  • http://makeextraincomeathome.com/ Felipe Kurpiel

    A lot of useful tools! I didn’t know half of them! I will check it out and see how I can
    improve my network efforts!!

    Thanks for the tips!

  • http://makeextraincomeathome.com/ Felipe Kurpiel

    A lot of useful tools! I didn’t know half of them! I will check it out and see how I can
    improve my network efforts!!

    Thanks for the tips!

  • http://twitter.com/mickmel mickmel

    Mingly looks GREAT, but I can’t get Facebook or LinkedIn to connect, and they have tweeted or blogged in quite a long time. Are they essentially dead?

  • http://twitter.com/mickmel mickmel

    Mingly looks GREAT, but I can’t get Facebook or LinkedIn to connect, and they have tweeted or blogged in quite a long time. Are they essentially dead?

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    My pleasure @felipekj:disqus . Glad to hear it was helpful. Let me know how the journey goes.

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    My pleasure @felipekj:disqus . Glad to hear it was helpful. Let me know how the journey goes.

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    My pleasure @63d9e48b436d0989e89d769def316c1d:disqus . Will you be at Social Media Marketing World in April?

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    My pleasure @63d9e48b436d0989e89d769def316c1d:disqus . Will you be at Social Media Marketing World in April?

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    @mickmel:disqus I with you. I reached out to their team and had one of the founders get back to me. He mentioned that they had some changes in their team and everything should be back in a few weeks.

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    @mickmel:disqus I with you. I reached out to their team and had one of the founders get back to me. He mentioned that they had some changes in their team and everything should be back in a few weeks.

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Great tips Mike! These are incredibly interesting tools and strategies, some of which I need to implement immediately. I will certainly check out Engagio to see how it will be able to help me.

    Thanks for sharing MIke! Keep up the good work SME!

    ~John Lee Dumas

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Great tips Mike! These are incredibly interesting tools and strategies, some of which I need to implement immediately. I will certainly check out Engagio to see how it will be able to help me.

    Thanks for sharing MIke! Keep up the good work SME!

    ~John Lee Dumas

  • http://twitter.com/CariPinc Cari Pinc

    Fantastic summary of how to have your social media/networking come together to meet, or exceed, your goals.

  • http://twitter.com/CariPinc Cari Pinc

    Fantastic summary of how to have your social media/networking come together to meet, or exceed, your goals.

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    Thank you @twitter-504688158:disqus

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    Thank you @twitter-504688158:disqus

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    Good to see you @JohnLeeDumas:disqus . Thanks for the comment. Will you be at #SMMW13 ?

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  • http://twitter.com/MeetTheBossTV MeetTheBoss TV

    Very insightful piece, Mike. At MeetTheBoss we deal with identifying the right attendees for our virtual roundtables on the TV channel – so a lot of what you’re saying here is absolutely invaluable for both people and brands looking to take their social conversations further into the arena of meaning. Point #3 is so often undervalued in building relationships to take them offline…and more people need to be doing this.

    We’ll certainly be looking out for more posts. Keep up the sterling work!

  • http://twitter.com/MeetTheBossTV MeetTheBoss TV

    Very insightful piece, Mike. At MeetTheBoss we deal with identifying the right attendees for our virtual roundtables on the TV channel – so a lot of what you’re saying here is absolutely invaluable for both people and brands looking to take their social conversations further into the arena of meaning. Point #3 is so often undervalued in building relationships to take them offline…and more people need to be doing this.

    We’ll certainly be looking out for more posts. Keep up the sterling work!

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  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    I’m with you @twitter-26749600:disqus when it comes to Point #3. It’s actually taking relationships to the next level. Add in a gift card from their favorite coffeeshop and you are now having virtual coffee / tea. Powerful!

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    I’m with you @twitter-26749600:disqus when it comes to Point #3. It’s actually taking relationships to the next level. Add in a gift card from their favorite coffeeshop and you are now having virtual coffee / tea. Powerful!

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    Thank you kindly.

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    Thank you kindly.

  • http://twitter.com/tracykuethe Tracy Kuethe

    This is great info! Sometimes it just takes a great reminder like this so thank you. I will be at #SMMW13 and I cannot wait.

  • http://twitter.com/tracykuethe Tracy Kuethe

    This is great info! Sometimes it just takes a great reminder like this so thank you. I will be at #SMMW13 and I cannot wait.

  • Perla

    Thank you for this very helpful article.

  • Perla

    Thank you for this very helpful article.

  • http://www.doitsocially.com/ Muhammad Adil

    Nice post Mike! The clarity of goals at the beginning & regular contact are the really key to success. Conferences are also the great way to get the attention of the veterans of the field.

    But I am very disappointed that I am leaving in another part of the world and am unable to join social media marketing world conference. Now I can only dream to be a participant of that conference.

  • http://www.doitsocially.com/ Muhammad Adil

    Nice post Mike! The clarity of goals at the beginning & regular contact are the really key to success. Conferences are also the great way to get the attention of the veterans of the field.

    But I am very disappointed that I am leaving in another part of the world and am unable to join social media marketing world conference. Now I can only dream to be a participant of that conference.

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    @4d66cbe05201207bd5ab4d54d3ebd62d:disqus Thanks for the comment. There is an opportunity for more people to focus on their goals before the conference. Regarding being disappointed; I have a philosophy, “Run the Point (Take Action) from where you are, with what you have.” You can build right from where you are and in due time you’ll get to different conferences. What part of the world are you in?

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    @4d66cbe05201207bd5ab4d54d3ebd62d:disqus Thanks for the comment. There is an opportunity for more people to focus on their goals before the conference. Regarding being disappointed; I have a philosophy, “Run the Point (Take Action) from where you are, with what you have.” You can build right from where you are and in due time you’ll get to different conferences. What part of the world are you in?

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    You are very welcome @twitter-45623699:disqus . I’m looking forward to turning #HashtagsToHandshakes with you at #SMMW13 . I’m easy to find; look for the bow tie :)

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    You are very welcome @twitter-45623699:disqus . I’m looking forward to turning #HashtagsToHandshakes with you at #SMMW13 . I’m easy to find; look for the bow tie :)

  • http://www.shrmarketing.com/ Stan Robinson, Jr.

    Mike – I appreciate the tips and tools you shared in this article. I understand that Ming.ly is under construction, but look forward to checking out the other tools.

  • http://www.shrmarketing.com/ Stan Robinson, Jr.

    Mike – I appreciate the tips and tools you shared in this article. I understand that Ming.ly is under construction, but look forward to checking out the other tools.

  • http://walteradamson.com Walter Adamson

    Fabulous process and tips. The tools are also very useful, and even with different tools your process is highly recommended.

  • http://walteradamson.com Walter Adamson

    Fabulous process and tips. The tools are also very useful, and even with different tools your process is highly recommended.

  • http://www.thereadingtub.com Terry Doherty

    I’m very sad to report that Engag.io is no longer. I LOVED that tool. They are now part of influitive.com

  • http://www.thereadingtub.com Terry Doherty

    I’m very sad to report that Engag.io is no longer. I LOVED that tool. They are now part of influitive.com

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    Much appreciate @walter:disqus . You hit the nail on the head, it has very little to do with the tools (they will come and go), it’s about the process and what’s actually going on with the people. Will you be at #SMMW13 ?

  • Stephanie Treasure

    Wow! I love these tips. I strongly believe in the power of making connections on social media. But this article goes beyond that with the video chat and connecting at events. Especially love the tools for keeping it all organized. Thanks!

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  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    My utmost pleasure @0eacd33d99598c9e20ce85df15058812:disqus . I’m looking forward to see how folks put it to practice. Do report back. Are you heading to #SMMW13 in April.

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    @StanleyRobinson:disqus let me know how it works out for you. Always like to hear about the process in motion.

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    @StanleyRobinson:disqus let me know how it works out for you. Always like to hear about the process in motion.

  • Fred

    Great post. Loved it.

  • Fred

    Great post. Loved it.

  • http://www.annexcore.com/ AnnexCore

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.annexcore.com/ AnnexCore

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  • Jaypo-In-Nashville

    Thank you for a thoughtful and enlightening body of practical advice!

  • Jaypo-In-Nashville

    Thank you for a thoughtful and enlightening body of practical advice!

  • Jasmine

    Very helpful articles. Definitely gives som insights in networking and how to leverage social relations.

  • Jasmine

    Very helpful articles. Definitely gives som insights in networking and how to leverage social relations.

  • Duncan

    Like this one a lot! Thanks

  • Duncan

    Like this one a lot! Thanks

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  • Sary

    Mikey! gr8 and worth all the reading effort. 8is helpful:D

  • Sary

    Mikey! gr8 and worth all the reading effort. 8is helpful:D

  • Carolin Geissler

    Those are awesome tips, Mike! I didn’t know about Ming.ly before, so I’m glad you mentioned it. I’m a bit of a procrastinator myself, so a tool like this can help me quite a lot in the future.
    Thank you for sharing!

  • Carolin Geissler

    Those are awesome tips, Mike! I didn’t know about Ming.ly before, so I’m glad you mentioned it. I’m a bit of a procrastinator myself, so a tool like this can help me quite a lot in the future.
    Thank you for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/OuttaTheBoxTV OuttaTheBoxTV

    Thanks for the tips, I’m definitely going to check out some of those tools!

  • http://twitter.com/OuttaTheBoxTV OuttaTheBoxTV

    Thanks for the tips, I’m definitely going to check out some of those tools!

  • http://www.doitsocially.com/ Muhammad Adil

    Love your thoughts about “take action from where you are”, This approach really easy up things. By the way I am from Pakistan (South east Asia).

    Bruny i am really inspired from your thoughts and now following you on twitter for learning more. Thanks Buddy

  • http://www.doitsocially.com/ Muhammad Adil

    Love your thoughts about “take action from where you are”, This approach really easy up things. By the way I am from Pakistan (South east Asia).

    Bruny i am really inspired from your thoughts and now following you on twitter for learning more. Thanks Buddy

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    Let’s me know how it goes.

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    Let’s me know how it goes.

  • Harpal singh

    That was really helpful….thanx

  • http://blog.miahall.net Mia Hall

    This was great Mike – thanks!

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  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    My pleasure @twitter-231267544:disqus

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    You are welcome Harpal singh

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    You are very kind @muhammadadil:disqus . I definitely appreciate the follow. If you have questions, definitely send out a tweet. I’ll do my best assist.

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  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    My pleasure @8583cddda37a88471f0d84cbef04b3a6:disqus

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  • http://twitter.com/webloftdesigns Web Loft Designs

    Thanks for the tips, Mike. As a web development consultant working from my home office, my #1 goal in 2013 is to turn these virtual connections into real, face-to-face relationships this year. I’ll definitely be checking out Engagio!

  • http://www.agencyplatform.com/ Dave Thompson

    Great Points to grow one’s network and meet new people. The bond between you and your social connections should certainly grow stronger with time, Google+ Hangout and Skype helps in doing that. And once you start trusting the person you can meet them face to face. Thanks for the great tips.

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    You definitely want to leverage when the people are going to be. I’m a big fan of leveraging conferences to connect with folks. They are already going to be there so we might as well connect.

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  • emilysusan007

    Amazing article!! I’m very impressed and took down notes

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Olga-Santo-Tomás-Monroe/100000718174756 Olga Santo Tomás Monroe

    Very helpful post, thank you! I suggest that you isolate each ‘thing’ and get it out, as part of a series to increase your visibility Thanks, again; I plan to implement your advice & good luck at the conference!

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    Thank you @facebook-100000718174756:disqus ! I appreciate you looking out for me ;)

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    Thank you kindly @emilysusan007:disqus . I’m trying to help more people make the connections they need / would like to make. It’s what I do…and love it :)

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    My pleasure @AgencyPlatform:disqus . There seems to be things that change the level of relationships. Seeing the person is definitely one of ‘em.

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  • http://www.agencyplatform.com/ Dave Thompson

    Absolutely!

  • http://www.leadsandappointments.com/ Anika Davis

    With the vast expanse of the social media, it makes it easier to have good, reliable sources if information coming in. I’d appreciate the tool resources about how to connect with some of your online contacts. I would love to implement those strategies as soon as possible. Looking forward to your next your posts as I’ve gained many good resources.

  • http://www.callbox.com.sg/ Jayden Chu

    Great article Mike. Everyone would want to make lasting contacts from their social media friends but they don’t have enough knowledge on how to do it. Thanks for this article. It will serve as our guide in improving our networking efforts.

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  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    My pleasure @jaydenchu:disqus . Thanks for reading and thanks for commenting. Let me know how the journey goes.

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    My pleasure @ankadavis:disqus . I also have an on-demand course that you can check out at any time. Glad to be of service. http://bit.ly/confvip

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