Twitter is many things to many people, but for me, it's really just a massive, ongoing networking event. When I say networking, what I really mean is 'socialising with a purpose'. In fact, that's pretty much how I define any of the networking activities I take part in. I'm not one for 'working the room' - I think it's cheesy and people hate feeling like they've been looked up and down, sussed out and rejected as a non-prospect.
For me, Twitter is the same. I will talk to anybody friendly, interesting, chatty etc. Sometimes though, I will have a conversation with a person I realise I would like to meet (and also that it's practical to meet - there are some fabulous people I've come to know well over the years that I would dearly love to meet, but who simply live/work too far away).
Anyway - back to my point. I've probably been in contact with this person over a fair amount of time, perhaps days, weeks or even months. They are probably somebody working in the same sector as me, I may be able to help them with something, perhaps it's somebody I can refer things to, or even somebody I can potentially work with. Either way, I'd like to meet them.
Now - to me it's obvious, but in the same way as I would if I met them at a networking event, I ask them if they'd be happy to meet for a coffee. This can go one of three ways - they say yes, say no or simply ignore me. Well that's absolutely fair enough. Most of the time people say yes - apart from one chap who said no, because he thought I was asking him out on a date. Ouch. Maybe I should have been a little clearer in my approach on that occasion...
So once we've agreed to meet for coffee, it's email time and then meeting time. The relationship has now been taken offline and into real life. It is now 'proper'. It's also now up to me to maintain it and ensure it lasts. Twitter has done it's job.
By Victoria Moffatt