It had been a full day in Chicago and Adam and I were looking forward to drinks. We’d come all the way from Australia and this was our final night of nearly 4 weeks in the USA. It had been an awesome trip.
For some people, visiting another city is about seeing the tourist highlights, eating great meals, or getting involved with the activities on offer. For us, the thrill and focus of our month away had been all about trying to meet the people who had influenced our business and marketing thinking for over 8 years. When you’ve been reading blogs, books, emails, and twitter feeds for years, you feel like you get to know someone. But getting to meet in person is a different ball game.
We’d met with Adam Garcia, Director of Online Marketing for Walgreen’s, Katy from Social Katy, gatecrashed the 37signals office and were lucky enough to be introduced to Jason Fried (one of 3 people in their office of 35 people at the time so they were obviously walking their Remote working philosophy talk!), and had lunch with Liz Strauss who has also been an aspirational contact for many years. The evening was free so we were stoked when Liz said: “You guys have to come and meet Andy Crestodina from Orbit Media. He’s a great guy. He’s having a “Wine & Web” night tonight at his office.”
So we locked it in and went along.
At Orbit Media
It was a relaxed and really informative evening. Andy gave a great presentation on email marketing and we were able to contribute a few ideas to the discussion. We stuck around afterwards for a bit more of a chat and found we clearly shared the same marketing and business philosophies.
From that meeting, I’m really happy to say that we’ve built a great relationship with Andy. From meeting in person, we’ve exchanged ideas across the globe, read and reviewed each others’ books, shared blog posts, and kept in touch. If Andy ever comes out to Australia (hint hint Andy!), then we’d love to reciprocate the hospitality and no doubt talk more shop in the process.
As well as being a feel good story, there’s a real principle here at play and one that has been reinforced time and again.
The best kept secret to online success is offline connecting.
What do others say?
- Rand Fishkin says that SEO is much less about link building and much more about relationship building.
- Tim Ferriss says that “you can use trade shows to network with people who would otherwise never return your email or phone call.”
- Verne Harnish says that it’s no longer about B2C or B2B it’s about P2P (People to People).
One of the beauties of the web is that it opens up organisations. All of this technology enables us to be more human and more connected than ever before.
The lesson for me has been that as emails, tweets, messages, and posts have all exploded to numbers beyond our comprehension, we are inundated and often overwhelmed by them. As this continues, the value of face to face connection increases at the same time as the value of an extra tweet, post, or email decreases.
In terms of business benefit, the relationships we’ve formed over the years offline – taking the time to meet with people face to face – has lead to some huge benefits online like:
improved search rankings (by getting great backlinks from authoritative sites),
increased social media following (by shares and retweets from others with greater followings than ours),
book endorsements (like the one Andy kindly did for us),
guest blog post opportunities,
references in emails to 40,000+ subscribers,
national media coverage,
and ultimately friendships with like minded people all over the world.
How does this happen?
Lead with generosity
Sharing content, tweeting, and commenting on blog posts all help to demonstrate that you are actively getting involved in a person’s online community.
We’ve created a Blogger Outreach Email Template that we’ve used to get in touch with some of our business and marketing heroes or aspirational contacts as Keith Ferrazzi calls them. (We’ve built a template for that too!). Leading with generosity and then reaching out in a genuine way can open many doors.
However you do it – by tracking down where they might be giving their next presentation, attending the event they are hosting or inviting them along to your own event – getting face to face is an important step to really cementing a relationship or giving it a great starting point.
So a huge thanks to Andy for hosting the email marketing event and to Liz for making the introduction. I’m looking forward to seeing you both again, in person, soon.
What do you think? Have you found face to face connections more powerful or less powerful than online? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.