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My personal online journey began with a parenting blog that I set up in 2008 with the sole intention of keeping family and friends informed on our lives since we lived states apart. Since that time, my online footprint has steadily grown – both with blogging and social media in general – and I would say that 99% of the people I “knew” from that time were people I knew exclusively online.

Once we moved from New Hampshire back to Memphis, I made a point to seek out others in my local community. I connected with a social media professor at the local university, found a couple relevant Meetup groups and was clued in to a twice-yearly conference held here in Memphis. And with the conference quickly approaching at the time, I took the gamble and attended, not knowing a soul.

Attending that conference caused a major shift in the make-up of my online and social networks. The pendulum began to swing back toward regular, real-life connections. And while all the new people I was meeting were online just like me, they all use social media for professional or personal reasons (and had no ties whatsoever to the women’s blogging community).

The past 7 months have been all about me getting offline to meet other people in the Memphis area. I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to know the leaders and influencers in my local social community. Connecting with them has expanded my view and appreciation of the social realm.

Tomorrow is the spring conference, and I cannot wait. Along with presenting 2 sessions on my own, I’m also part of a social media strategy panel and having my first opportunity to act as a conference emcee.

Going offline to grow online can be an important step for those who got their social start in much the same way I did. Seeking out other people in your local area who are also involved in social media is a wise way to expand your network.