Twitter is a great platform to connect with people all over the world.

If you tweet often enough, you may even feel like your Twitter connections know you on a different level than your offline friends. We truly are living in a new era of connection possibilities, which is why knowing why you are participating in social media to begin with is essential to knowing how to maximize your connections.

If you find yourself tweeting with someone often, sharing personal experiences and really developing a genuine friendship, this is usually an indication that an IRL connection would be welcome.

It can sometimes feel awkward taking a social media friendship to new heights, so take it slow and don’t feel slighted if your contact doesn’t reciprocate your desire to connect further. Everyone has different levels of comfort when it comes to social interactions. Some people simply prefer to keep social media connections on social media for a variety of reasons, but that can change over time.

Here are 5 ways to take your Twitter (and other social networking) friendships to a deeper level.

  1. Direct message to email. The first step in taking a Twitter connection to IRL level is direct message. If someone doesn’t respond to a DM, that doesn’t always mean that they are ignoring you. It is a fact that some people simply do not check their DMs because they get so many spam messages (especially people with large followings). To get a contact’s attention, try sending a tweet that asks how you can connect out of the Twitter stream (this works especially well if you get specific about what you would like to discuss). Suggest that they DM you their email or phone number to talk about how it might benefit them. I am a big believer in the win-win, so the more you can get clear on providing value to your connections, the better!
  2. Set up a phone appointment. Have a goal in mind. People who are active on social media tend to be busy promoting their core business, so this can be a great place to start with the next phase of your connection. You may want to interview this person for a blog post, share resources or talk about ways that you may be able to support one another’s work. Keep it to a brief 15-20 minutes so you have enough time to check in, but not so long that it cuts into your daily productivity. Short and sweet is always preferred. While it’s great to be able to take your friendship to a deeper level, having boundaries when it comes to time is always important.
  3. Interview on Skype or Google Hangout. Not every meeting on video has to be broadcast to the masses. You can actually have a one on one exchange that feels a lot like a phone call, but includes the fun of visual interaction. I love it when I am about to be interviewed as a guest on a Google Hangout and the host asks to check in with me for 5-10 minutes (offline) beforehand. This gives us a chance to get to know communication styles, timing and humor before we go “live” while also giving us a chance to connect without having to be “on” for viewers. If you like to host Google Hangouts and you have a decent sized audience, this can be a great way to connect with thought leaders in your niche… invite her or him for a Hangout with a specific topic and set up a quick “coffee” date before the interview.
  4. Meet up at a conference. If you and one of your connections will both be attending the same conference or if your contact is speaking at a conference, this is an excellent opportunity to meet in person for the first time. While conferences tend to be busy and the days get full, I prefer to meet new contacts in the morning before the day gets away from us. If possible, arrange to have coffee for 15-30 minutes before the morning keynote session. This way, you have a set time to meet and you both know that you won’t miss one another if session run over or things come up throughout the day. When I am speaking, I don’t always have time for coffee but I love connecting with social media friends in the back of the room after the presentation so don’t feel shy asking a contact if they will be free for a quick meet and greet.
  5. Coffee, lunch… a hike. There have been times where I have visited a town where a social media friend lives and we have met up for coffee, lunch and even a hike! As long as both parties are free and open to connecting, this can be a wonderful way to meet up with friends all over the world. As with all contacts, be respectful of one another’s time and energy.

Mass Amplify Show Patricia Rossi

The beauty of social media is that we can connect with people all over the world. This is a wonderful gift and something that has changed the way we can all build brands, do business and live our lives. As with everything in life, be smart, be kind, be respectful, be yourself and enjoy your time connecting!

Have you had an awesome experience taking a Twitter connection to IRL level? Tell us about it! Click To Tweet

In episode #14 of the Mass Amplify Show, Phil Mershon of Social Media Examiner shares some great tips for building your social media connections at events: