Unless you've got a strict "friends only" policy on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, you're likely to be connected to, or friends with, or following people you've never met in person.
For best results, try to meet - at least once - as many people in person as you can. It makes a huge difference in the quality of your on-line interaction to have, at some point, been face to face.
So how do you meet your online friends in person?
1. Just ask!
I "met" Hannah DeGroot (@Relocater) through Twitter. Because she was connected to me in other online ways, it was very natural to say "we should meet in person." We had a great time over coffee. Same thing with Shantay Davies (@NewHomesFresno)
It was just very natural for us to get together because we were all obviously business people exploring Twitter partly for fun, but mostly promotion and learning how to help our companies. Another thing that made it very easy: we're all three women. There's no uncomfortable overtones that might come from men inviting women and vice versa.
2. Go to a "TweetUp"
This is an open meeting that is called by someone online for a certain day, time, and place. Then everyone within range can come to mix and mingle. This is a very safe and easy way to meet a lot of your online friends. TweetUp is what they call it on Twitter, but it can be a Face2Face for your Facebook friends, or a LinkUp for your LinkedIn friends.
No one creating TweetUp's in your area? Set up your own! Find a friendly coffee shop or local restaurant owner who is willing to have a random crowd show up. They might even throw in some hors d'ouevres. Pick a date and time, then announce it to your friends and ask them to repeat it.
3. Attend a Networking Event
Local networking groups should be working hard to get established on social media and announce their events. Post or tweet an intention to attend and then ask who else is going. Ask them to be sure and look for you at the event. This is a double strategy because your online friend could serve to be your "buddy" if it turns out you don't know anyone else.
Tomorrow: How to give to other people on social media.