Bridging the Gap: Online to Real-Life

I don’t know about you, but I live in two spheres: online and real life. I have a number of people who I network with online, chat with, brainstorm with… people whose ideas I value and whose talent I’ll happily recommend. In real life, my network / friends are a lot less business focused. Most of them aren’t in similar or even tangential fields.

My roommate is a small business owner and a teacher-to-be (she graduated last month and is looking for a teaching job while working in the fashion industry).  Within my group of closest friends I have an engineer, a retail sales person, a pharmacist, and several teachers (my undergraduate school specialized in education). I know people within my field (publishing) but not many people who freelance or know potential customers who I can work with.

That leads to very few similarities between these two groups. Which leads to me leading what are almost two separate lives.

Recently, though, I’ve been working to bridge that gap. I have what I would consider a strong online network. Some of those people are in NY. In addition to knowing people online that live in my state (that I haven’t met), I have a number of resources available to me, sites and events I know about, that would allow me to build a “real-life” network to mirror that of my online network. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.

I’ve mentioned I’m not great at making friends–well, while attending that NYEBN business networking event last week I surprised myself. I met a number of people who may be potential customers; and, more than that, I met at someone person I’d love to become friends with. So I did something I never thought I’d have the balls to do: When he said he’d see if there were any opportunities for us to work together, I told him I had really enjoyed chatting and that even if a work opportunity didn’t arise, I’d love to keep in touch. He agreed and we’re planning on hanging out later this month. He is a small business owner, but more importantly, he is someone who would offer me a new perspective and honestly someone whose company I enjoyed (Geoff, if you read this, feel free to say hi!)

After my success at the NYEBN event, I’m planning on attending several more networking oppotunities; but more than that, I’m working to build my friend network. I’m making a point to reach out to new people, while strengthening bonds with old friends who I haven’t talked to in a while.

But Bridging the Gap is about more than just that for me. See, online I’ve learned how to be a fairly outgoing and confident person. I feel good contacting a stranger and offering help or asking for a favor. I reach out to people who are barely in my network or connect people within my network who may not know each other. I recommend friends and hopefully sometimes they recommend me.

I want to merge this with my real life. I want to have a network of people who I can reach out to on the phone or in person and chat with, connect with others in my network (online or in real life) and learn and teach.

As a writer, it’s essential to LIVE, otherwise you find yourself without new ideas and regurgitating old content over and over again. Making new connections helps keep you and your writing fresh.

For me, that’s what this is about. I’ll be sure to update you on my progress on a semi-regular basis, but if you have any tips or recommendations or even if you just want to commiserate (are there other people with this problem?), leave a comment.

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