Earlier this month six Connecticut based bloggers (and one from Western Mass) met at Black Eyed Sally’s in downtown Hartford, for sliders, ice-tea and networking. Some of us had exchanged tweets or Instagram likes before the meetup. Some of us were friends already and the rest of us walked into the meetup cold.
We focused on what we all had in common, blogging, and the conversations took flight. The evening went a little longer than the originally scheduled two hours, but we laughed, shared tips, exchanged stories and it seemed that a really great time was had by all. As I left, I wondered why there were only seven of us (there are 252 people that belong to the Connecticut Blogging group on Facebook) and why bloggers don’t meetup with bloggers offline like this more often.
Is it because we are living in the era of “no new friends,” and the era where people have digital platforms to create facades and persona’s that are sometimes very far from their actual lives and personality? And sometimes there is nothing wrong with that, especially when bloggers are marketing a brand that they have created and not themselves. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised then that there are bloggers who just aren’t open to the idea of face-to-face networking and building real friendships with other bloggers outside of the digital realm. It’s sad though, because they are really missing out on a lot.
“Seeing a person in the physical context of your real offline life make more of an impression than a virtual hello ever could” ~ Annie Mueller
For me, my blogger meeting was a great exercise and time well spent. I left with a renewed sense of purpose and six potential new, real friends. Here are a few other reasons that bloggers should really make more blogger friends offline.
1) Support System I don’t know about you, but I might as well speak Russian when I attempt to talk to my non-blogging friends about the behind the scenes, inner workings of my blog. Only another blogger would understand my drive, passion and issues (tech or method). The “support” factor is probably one of the biggest reasons that I maintain and work on building my network of blogging friends. Yes, you could probably get the same support from one of your virtual relationships. But would you trust someone enough that you have never met face to face to give them the login information to your blog like I had to do recently when I got stuck behind the scenes?
2) Learn from people who have more experience Why recreate the wheel when you can save yourself time and hair by just asking someone who has done it before? The fact is that people are more willing to receive information from or share information with people they know and trust. Maybe the whole social networking thing will progress to the point where people can make the trust distinction digitally, but for now, getting to know people in person is the best and only way to build trust.
3) New Perspective/New Insight One of the greatest benefits about keeping a wide circle of blogging friends is that they have introduced me to places, events, plugins, resources, insight and vice-versa, that I wouldn’t know about or ever consider otherwise. This happens pretty much every time I accept an invitation to hangout with my blogger friends.
4) Collaboration – Sometimes two heads are better than one and it’s always great when bloggers can team up for ancillary products, side projects, or events outside of their blogs. Two of the best blogger collaborations that I’ve seen so far was Cocktails and Couture that was organized by @Afrobella and @themakeup girl (well, the 2012 one was) and Blogger’s Night Out (BNO) organized by @styleactivist @stylewithinreach and @kendallerica. The turnout was huge and the success of that event was, I believe, the combined effort of all of the bloggers involved. Collaboration can really be something as small as car pooling which I have done several times with other Connecticut based bloggers. I mean seriously, would you share a 2-hour car ride with people who you don’t know or have any sense of their true personalities?
Anyways, its great to have hundreds of followers and written messages certainly serve their purpose, etc., but no matter how often the exchanges, those people will always remain a stranger behind the keyboard until you meet them in person.