Inevitably, social media has changed the way we interact socially with one another and has done so even more since becoming such a prominent corporate tool. It’s important to remain aware of how social media’s change in function affects us, and to consider this effect from all angles so as not to grow oblivious to how we are resultantly being changed, too. One of the most notable elements of social media’s evolution as a corporate tool is the way it’s used between individuals to connect and communicate with one another. Comments, chats, direct messaging, emails, and follows are no longer entirely limited to the closest people in our lives on an intimate level; these features have given us access to network with one another by making it easy and efficient to reach out to someone, converse with them, and build up these contacts. This method of networking is particularly convenient when it comes to accommodating to distance and respective time schedules; however, what do we do when it comes time to meet the contacts we’ve made online beyond the screen? Are we ready? Do we even know how to speak to them without the comforting barriers that are our smartphones?
If granted the opportunity to meet the people that we’ve connected with already online, in person, it is most appropriate that we do so. We should always take the time to introduce ourselves to and follow up with those we network with online not only because it’s appropriate but, too, because it reveals that we appreciate the time they’ve shared with us digitally, the space they’ve reserved for us within their capacity, and the trust they’ve established for us by way of choosing to believe the things we’ve said over a screen and still continue to pursue a working relationship with us—although such things may not be tangible, they undoubtedly merit meaningful recognition.
Upon meeting the people we’ve “e-met” that is, those we have met online, it’s important to remind them who we are, to reiterate what it is we’ve connected about, to thank them for the things mentioned above concerning time, space, and trust, to discuss the pursuit onward of the connection that’s been made, and to clarify the things we’ve mentioned or discussed to some degree and perhaps, go into more depth about them; doing so conveys that we are intentional about the communication we’ve invested into with them and do not take the connection for granted despite it not having been already affirmed ‘in person.’ It’s worth reminding you that while the person you’re meeting may have an understanding of who you are and why you’ve connected, if this is your first time meeting them in person, there remains blank space to be coloured in in their first impression of you thus, your time meeting them should resemble both your online persona and communication, and enhance their understanding of you, your relationship, and the things you’ve been communicating about.
It is our hope that these fundamental ideas serve you as a starting point and provide you with something to ponder when it comes to meeting people for the first time after having connected with them online and that in turn, these ideas edify the way you serve these people in your working relationship with them. While the world is increasingly impacted by and reliant upon digital technology (which is neither a good or bad thing exclusively), as Christians—humans who call Heaven ‘home’—we need to know how to communicate with people not just digitally because our community was never made to exist only within the pieces of our technology.