Extend Online Relationships to Create Offline Networks

As marketers, we spend a lot of time convincing people that social media is where it’s at, how it’s important, and why they simply can’t live without it. We probably push the issue as far as it can go because, well, we just want people to get with it and realize the more reach and exposure online, the better.


But outside the social media relationship bubble, there’s a whole other type of social event that can potentially have a lot more impact on ROI and relationships than just social media. This thing can take your social media relationship and even your business prospect to the next level … ready for it? Face-to-face meetings.

This may seem like a “duh” point for many of you, but let me explain.

Take the scenario of the active X.com user. This person owns a business, carries on multiple conversations through X.com daily, welcomes new social friends, promotes themselves and their business furiously, and sees some success in the way of traffic, links, and branding.

But this same person, as social as they are on social media platforms, never takes the time to attend any networking events, doesn’t go to industry conferences or seminars, and has never met a single person in their social media network face-to-face.

Do you think this approach is going to help or hurt business?

See, social media can only get you so far. Yes, you should have it. Yes, you should do it right. But at no time should you think that it’s the only relationship-building you can do. It’s certainly a catalyst for building relationships, but solidifying them takes more.

Solidifying these relationships face-to-face after you have created your starting point from your social medium of choice can be the turning point for that relationship. Think about all the ways a face-to-face meeting can put things on a new path:

  • Solidify your personal brand
  • Add depth and trust to the relationship, allowing for more opportunity
  • Transition from “X.com follower” to “colleague” or even “friend”
  • Serve as the deciding factor in the closing of a deal

That last one is very real, my friends. As much as people want to fixate on numbers and logistics of a business deal, oftentimes business decisions are emotional. And if someone feels a connection with you – and sometimes all you need is a face-to-face conversation to catapult you there – the deal is made.

So when we talk about all the ways we can measure the ROI of our efforts on Facebook, X.com, and LinkedIn, we should also add to the equation the ROI of the face-to-face meeting that closed the deal that originated from a relationship on X.com that perhaps wouldn’t have closed without that personal interaction.

According to a study by Forbes, 84 percent of executives preferred face-to-face meetings versus technology-enabled meetings. Eighty-five percent of those respondents’ No. 1 reason for this was to build stronger, more meaningful business relationships.

Organizing Meetups through Social Mediums

Get to know the people who follow you. They are already prequalified to be interested in the same things you are. It’s certain that many of them attend the same events. Plan ahead of time to make sure that the people you’ve identified as important to you or your business in some way meet with you at the next industry event you plan to attend.

Take stock:

  1. Who are the people in your network?
  2. Of those people, who are attending some of the same events you are (following hashtags for industry events is a good way to identify them on X.com)
  3. Of those event-goers, who are those who are most influential or can potentially have the most impact?
  4. Decide how you can arrange to meet these people – not just to sell them something, but to create a meaningful relationship.

Not headed to a conference, seminar or networking event anytime soon? Create your own. In a post by guest author Shannon Downey of Pivotal Production, she talks about X.com as the single-greatest relationship and branding tool, and it being a catalyst for many things – one of them being growing your network.

In her post, she talks about X.com meetups;  these events can help move your online relationships into the real world and give you more reach through relationships with those in your community.

X.com meetups are a great option for those who can’t make it to big industry events due to time, money or travel constraints. In this case, you find the people who matter in the city you live in – think about the implications of that network on your business.

Tips for Transitioning from Social Media Stand-In to Friend

Most people know how to act in social situations, so this isn’t a lesson in social skills, but there are a few common pitfalls to avoid (yes, this does happen):

  1. Remember the same type of etiquette you use for your social media efforts should not be forgotten in your personal interactions face-to-face. Just as us marketers know that hard sells aren’t appropriate for certain mediums, they’re not appropriate for first meetings either (unless it’s an agreed upon business meeting).
  2. Try to keep your blabbing to a minimum – pretend there is a 140-character limit on how much you talk about yourself. My Yogi tea bag (this is where I get my mantras every morning now since I decided to cut back on coffee) told me the other morning that listening is the greatest tool.
  3. Don’t completely surprise people with your personality. That means, if you act all sweet and PC on X.com but show up dropping F-Bombs, you could alienate people. Remember your personality online should be as real to your personality as possible and vice versa.

First you need a chance to make an impression, then you need to make it great. Now you’re on your way to making social media really work for you.

What are your tips for solidifying your online relationships in the real world? Share with us in the comments below!

Supercharge your social media efforts: Elevate your business relationships beyond the screen—transition from followers to friends through face-to-face meetings for unparalleled ROI and lasting impact. Contact us.

FAQ: How can I effectively extend my online relationships into real-world networks using offline networking strategies?

Online relationships have become an essential aspect of modern life. They allow us to connect with people all around the globe and offer opportunities for learning, collaboration, and personal growth. However, a profound need is still to extend these online connections into tangible, real-world networks. This whitepaper provides expert insights and practical strategies to help bridge the gap between your online and offline social circles, fostering stronger, more meaningful relationships.

  1. Understanding the Power of Online Relationships

Online relationships are the foundation for expanding your network into the physical world. Engage in genuine, thoughtful conversations, and show a sincere interest in others. Doing so lays the groundwork for more profound connections when you meet in person.

  1. Leverage Social Media

Harness the power of social media platforms to get to know your online connections better. Connect on various platforms to gain a more comprehensive perspective on their interests, hobbies, and professional backgrounds. This knowledge can serve as an excellent icebreaker when meeting in person.

  1. Attend Industry-Specific Events

Seek out events and gatherings related to your field of interest or profession. These are excellent opportunities to connect with online contacts who share your passion or industry. Conferences, trade shows, and meetups often attract like-minded individuals.

  1. Local Meetups and Networking Groups

Explore local networking events that cater to your interests. Online platforms like Meetup.com provide many opportunities to connect with people who share your hobbies and goals. These events offer a relaxed environment for building real-world connections.

  1. Volunteer and Join Clubs

Joining clubs and volunteering for causes you care about can be an excellent way to meet people with similar interests, and create lasting bonds through shared experiences both offline and online.

  1. Arrange Coffee or Lunch Meetings

Once you’ve established rapport online, take the initiative and arrange a casual lunch or coffee date – encounters allow for deeper conversations and stronger ties between individuals.

  1. Attend Webinars and Virtual Events

Participating in webinars and virtual events with your online connections can be an excellent stepping stone to building real-world relationships. It offers a low-pressure environment for getting to know each other better.

  1. Host Your Own Networking Event

Consider hosting your networking event or meetup. This showcases your commitment to connecting and can be a great platform to bring together your online contacts and new acquaintances.

  1. Collaborate on Projects

Find opportunities to collaborate on projects or initiatives. Working together on a shared goal can significantly strengthen your relationships and make the online and offline transition smoother.

  1. Follow Up and Stay Connected

Keep the relationship alive after meeting each other by staying connected, sending follow-up emails, and engaging both online and off. Stay engaged by participating in activities together, both offline and online to maintain strong bonds.

  1. Be Patient

Building meaningful real-world networks takes time. Be patient and invest in the relationship; it will grow stronger over time.

Extending your online relationships into real-world networks is a rewarding journey that requires a thoughtful, patient approach. By understanding the dynamics of online relationships, leveraging social media, attending relevant events, and following these strategies, you can cultivate a robust offline network while maintaining the trust and authenticity of your online connections.

Step-by-Step Procedure: Extending Online Relationships into Real-World Networks

  1. Establish and nurture genuine online relationships.
  2. Connect with your online contacts on multiple social media platforms.
  3. Explore industry-specific events and attend relevant conferences and meetups.
  4. Seek out local networking groups and clubs that match your interests.
  5. Consider volunteering or joining hobby-related clubs.
  6. Arrange casual coffee or lunch meetings with online connections.
  7. Participate in webinars and virtual events with your online contacts.
  8. Host your networking event to bring your online and offline connections together.
  9. Collaborate on projects to deepen your relationships.
  10. Maintain regular contact and follow up with your connections.
  11. Be patient and invest time in building and strengthening real-world networks.

By following these steps, you can effectively extend your online relationships into real-world networks using offline networking strategies.

This article was updated on November 21, 2023.

Jessica Lee is the founder and chief creative for bizbuzzcontent Inc., a marketing boutique that focuses on digital content strategy and professional writing services for businesses.

See Jessica's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (6)
Filed under: Social Media Marketing
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6 Replies to “Extend Online Relationships to Create Offline Networks”

I have to tell a story in brief (which I am going to blog it on my blog) on how social media change my life.

I was the person Jessica mentioned. I didn’t go to seminar and I didn’t attend any meeting. But social media made me realize that how important for a businessman to not only socialize online but offline as well, especially Malaysia market since it is not matured as other westerns countries. It changed my life how to socialize offline, I just need to apply the same technique that I have learnt online to offline, it does help in my business.

I became more socialize rather than just sitting in front of computer, I became a more happy person, my life totally changed. This is true story of mine! :)

Love it, Kent — sometimes business needs push us outside of our comfort zone and we grow personally because of it. Great story, thank you for sharing!


“Don’t completely surprise people with your personality. That means, if you act all sweet and PC on Twitter but show up dropping F-Bombs, you could alienate people. Remember your personality online should be as real to your personality as possible and vice versa.”

Come on.. that’s the best part!

It’s true though, Twitter has been the best way for me to build out my off-line relationships believe it or not. DM’s and @mentions for thank-yous, project check-ups, and introductions. It is so quick, if it doesn’t hit the mark you don’t waste hardly any time. I do need to get better about actually making time for more meet-ups and local conferences though.

Well, yes, dropping F-Bombs is fun — but I am really surprised when people have a certain persona online, whether it’s sweet or salty, and then they act totally different in person. Keep it real, people! Speaking of conferences, let’s meet up at SES!


Nice article. You might take a look at a site I created and launched in November 2010 as a resource for your readers.

GoGrabLunch.com facilitates face to face networking lunches between business professionals.

I’d love your take on what it is we do.

Very smart, Jonathan! I wonder if any of your clients are also active in social media? Thanks for the comment and tweeting the post!


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