Social media isn't always as social as its name would imply. For example, you can have conversations with people online and really not know them at all personally.
How many of your professional social media friends do you actually know personally? Comment here.
It's possible that you've had a really deep and meaningful conversation on Twitter or Facebook with someone in your niche that you greatly respect, but if you passed them on the street you wouldn't even recognize them, let alone stop and chat.
WebProNews spoke with IZEA CEO Ted Murphy recently about how sometimes, it just helps to pull back from the social media and really get social. It also helps to pull back if you want to create original content. That doesn't mean stop using social media. It means don't be strapped down by it.
"The Blogosphere and social media have become a bit of an echo chamber," says Murphy. "The likes and the shares and the retweets and all that stuff - it's great for spreading a message, but it's like everybody now becomes programmed in the same way, doing the same thing."
"So if we can teach people to pull back from that and say, 'Ok, if I want to come up with a really original blog...a really original idea, I don't want to know about all that other stuff. I need to unplug myself, and I need to just ideate,'" he adds.
In other words, get out there in the world and experience things first hand, and maybe you can find some inspiration for original content. Then, maybe the echo chamber will echo you, instead of vice versa. What are some problems, concerns, issues, or observations you've made running your own business? What are some you've seen with other businesses? Maybe you can use these things to bring something new to the table, or at least start a fresh conversation.
Even simply talking to the same kinds of people you would be conversing with online, in an offline setting can spark inspiration that may not have occurred from a conversation on Twitter or Facebook. Industry conferences are obviously a great place to meet people and to meet people that you have already had a professional relationship with online. Great ideas can come from these conversations, and they're not online for the world to see (and echo) yet, so you can take those with you and create that content.
Chances are that if a subject was worth talking about offline, it was probably worth talking about online as well (as long as its topical).
"The reason that we come to conferences...is that it's one thing to engage with somebody through Twitter or to do a chat with them or leave a comment on their blog," says Murphy. "It's another thing to shake their hand and look them in the eye and share a beer with them."
"So I think the people that are going to get the most out of an experience like this are the people that spend the entire time trying to meet as many people as they possibly can, and not just coming here and staying with the people that you came here with," he says.
"You should be coming home with stacks of...not just business cards and contacts, but experiences with those people," he adds.
You don't have to limit offline professional socializing to conferences though. You can do lunches or arrange other get-togethers. Don't forget "tweetups".
What are some other ways to create professional relationships offline that you've found value in? Share in the comments.