I'm often asked if online interactions will replace traditional face-to-face ones. They won't - but they will co-exist. Let me tell you how based on some real-life experiences. I had at a conference I attended earlier this week.
I was sitting at the conference listening patiently to the presenter when I noticed that a guy I used to work with- Mike from Telstra - was sitting in the row in front of me. I wanted to make sure he knew I was at the event so I had a chance to say hello. I didn't have his mobile number but noticed that he was using Twitter (a messaging tool that allows one to post short messages often referred to as 'microblogging'). I sent him a 'tweet' (a twitter message) from my Blackberry Bold telling him where I was, he turned around to acknowledge me and we caught up briefly during the first session break.
As we went to the next session, I got a 'tweet' (a twitter message) from Michelle at IBM who noticed I was at the conference. Michelle is a working Mum and she couldn't get to this particular event. She asked me if I could send her some of the information from a presentation she was particularly interested in. I'll do so as soon as the slides are available in the next few days.
Just as we broke for lunch, I was approached by Bryan who introduced himself to me. Bryan is a recruiter who found me on Linkedin (online business network) two months ago. We spoke on the phone but never met face-to-face. He recognised my face from my Linkedin photo and at that moment, we decided to have lunch together.
After lunch, I recognised the face of a gent called Jye who posted one of my articles on Online Networking on HIS blog site. During the next break, I introduced myself to him to personally thank him for promoting my article. We'll catch up for a coffee meeting in the next couple of weeks.
I guess I could have organised face-to-face or offline meetings with Mike, Michelle, Bryan and Jye which would have taken time and effort. Due to the instantness and complimentary nature of online media, I utilised both to my advantage. In fact, it's what I call "inline", meaning (as the name suggests) an interaction outcome that's 'in line' with how one operates, incorporating online and offline worlds. As usual, would appreciate your thoughts..