The Best Kept Secret to Online Success is Offline Connecting

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Toby Jenkins

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.

Business Benefit

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:

  1. improved search rankings (by getting great backlinks from authoritative sites),

  2. increased social media following (by shares and retweets from others with greater followings than ours),

  3. book endorsements (like the one Andy kindly did for us),

  4. guest blog post opportunities,

  5. references in emails to 40,000+ subscribers,

  6. national media coverage,

  7. 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.

Reaching out

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.

In person

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.

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Toby Jenkins

Toby Jenkins

Toby Jenkins is the author of Web Marketing That Works. The book is officially out this week and you can download the bonus 33 free templates. He is also the CEO of web marketing firm Bluewire Media and an Olympic Water Polo player. He can be found on Google+ and Twitter.

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Comments (19)
  • It was really great to meet the Orbit Media team at that Wine+Web evening. Thanks for having us Andy. It was a memorable night.

    • They are awesome

      • this is really adorable

  • It was really great to meet the Orbit Media team at that Wine+Web evening. Thanks for having us Andy. It was a memorable night.

    • So did it… helpful

  • I’ve been into Internet Marketing for a little over 6 years now. I’m most of the time online reading blogs, refreshing and reading timelines, tweets and posts, watching videos, researching for articles and other stuff, waiting for the the next Social Media and Google updates – that’s basically my life. It’s more than a profession for me, it’s part of my life. But as much as I enjoy it, I tried my best to have an online detox – and I was happy connecting with real people and creating real relationships. It’s a lovely feeling to actually talk in person, see their expressions, and feel the warmth of people around you. I still love being online but connecting to the real world is definitely worth doing!

    Thanks for sharing, I do love this post! “The best kept secret to online success is offline connecting.” — Yes this is indeed true. After all, we are humans. 🙂

    • We most certainly are! 🙂 Glad you liked the post and thanks for your comment.

  • It was really great to meet the Orbit Media team at that Wine+Web evening. Thanks for having us Andy. It was a memorable night.

  • Great post Toby – I really believe in #7.
    No one ever works for years to build something then writes a book or blog post about how much money they’ve made. It’s always about the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with people that stands out. I also really like the idea of connecting with people offline without there having to be a business proposition involved. I randomly decided to go hang out at Content Jam last year and it was a total blast meeting Andy, Amanda, and the whole crew. Since then we’ve traded a couple of things back and forth, but mostly it’s just great to connect with people who care about other people. That’ll never get old for me.

    • Thanks Joe – I couldn’t agree more with your comment. The connection and friendship is the most valuable of all of them.

  • This is such great advice — thanks for posting it. It’s so tempting to rely on online tools to make connections because of the convenience they provide, but there is no replacement for face-to-face interaction.

    • Thanks Traci. It can certainly be an easy trap. @TheJoey Weber made a good point on twitter which was face to face doesn’t scale like online does and I agree from an activity standpoint. The thing to remember is what gets you the most value over time too. And I think that’s a balance we all have to figure out ourselves.

    • sounds true.. 🙂

  • Thank you Toby that reminds me that I am a human being! 🙂 As is said: technology changes – but people don’t. It always has been and will always be about building trust and relationships. Eye to eye connection is a culmination of this process.

    • Pleasure Dymtro – it’s always nice to feel human 🙂 Body language plays such an important role in communication that it’s hard to beat “eye to eye” that’s for sure!

      • I’m sorry Dmytro – I just realised I misspelt your name. 🙁 Please accept my apologies.

        • I did not even see that you misspelled my name 🙂 But it’s ok!

  • Other benefits? Nothing will improve your ability to sell, explain your service, or explain your ideas like a real world conversation.

    For example, I’ve spent hours writing a blog post before. Eyes glued to my MacBook, I worked on it until it was what I modestly believed to be the most brilliant thing that would ever live on the internet.

    Then I talked to a real person in real life.

    I couldn’t explain my ideas in a way that made sense to him. I could have stared at my computer screen for days without gaining the perspective that his confused expression did in minutes.

    Thanks for writing this Toby. Hope you enjoyed Chicago. (Did you make it on one of the architecture tours? I try to force all my visitors to go on one.)

    • Haha! Great point Joey. In person = instant feedback whether you like it or not. And you won’t ever get to see the look on their face while you’re blogging. I know that feeling too well 🙂

      Chicago was brilliant. I didn’t do the architecture tour but I’ll add that to the list for my next trip. Very keen to get back.

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