Posted on: July 19th, 2011

Social Media: Two Secrets to Meeting Someone Online

The sky is the limit now. Enough with this spending a couple grand going to a conference in hopes of meeting the person you want to meet (although fun).

I suggest you meet them digitally, first, and then meet them in person if need be.

Here’s the creative digital marketing way to meet the person you want to meet online, build a relationship, then meet them in person.

1. Blog about them.

Last year, I blogged about a speech BP’s (former) VP of Marketing, Anna Catalano, delivered at CNN Fortune Time’s Global Marketing Forum in Fiuggi, Rome back in 2001. The blog article is called With Social Media, Talk Is Cheap and you can read the speech transcript called, Branding in the 21st century: a BP perspective.

To my surprise, Anna responded to the article.

She delivered a responsible and insightful response clarifying she believed in the vision set in 2001 but left the company in 2003 to pursue new and rewarding projects (such as blogging at Shades of Leadership, board of directors work with a few Fortune 500 companies, sitting as the Chair with Alzheimer’s Society in Texas, amongst other initiatives). Probably to her credit and peace of mind she wasn’t with the company during the 2005 Texas City Refinery Explosion and the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Anna and I have since become friends.

We went from blog commenting, to email correspondence, to and friends. You’ll frequently see us “liking” things we post (even goofy things that make us chuckle).

We went as far as almost writing a book together last year but chose not to flood the market place with another “social media” book.

Last night was to be our first time meeting.

She flew from Houston to Toronto for a 3-day business trip and we scheduled dinner in Waterloo where she’d be accommodated. Sadly, the 401 highway (stretching from Kitchener/Waterloo to Toronto) entirely shut down last night. She stayed in Toronto for the evening and we consequently cancelled our meeting.

So although there’s a caveat to this story, the intention remains.

And if you’re wondering how Anna found the blog article, I asked her that question last year. She replied, “Occasionally, I blog my name to see what’s out there. Your blog showed up.” I chuckled.

Blogging is a great way to meet someone.

2. Do something nice for them.

I found Jessica Grossman’s profile on and came across the work she’s been doing to remove the stigma of Ostomy through her website/blog, uncoverostomy. When I went to her website and read her story, my heart went out to her as I empathized with the courage she has, putting her story out in the public eye everyday (as an aside, I learned yesterday from my father that my deceased Grandmother lived the last couple years of her life with an Ostomy bag. It’s more popular than we think, most people just don’t talk about it).

I wanted to find a way to help Jessica.

I found her on, messaged her and simply said, “Would you like to chat, I’d like to help create awareness for your Ostomy work.”

We chatted via phone about ways to create more awareness. I got off the phone with her, called the London Free Press, talked to Jonathen Sher who was receptive to the story and would later write the amazing piece, “Can a ‘poop bag’ be sexy?”

Thank you Jon.

Yesterday, Jessica and I met for lunch and had a wonderful time. We’ll continue to build our relationship and look at collaborating on a wide range of future projects together.

Doing something nice for another works.

In summary, while the popular way (and certainly not a bad way) of building a relationship with someone initially through social media appears to be retweeting and @replying their work, it may not be the most effective way.

Now it’s your turn: Do you have any tips on meeting someone online? Please share them below!

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Andrew Schiestel is the Chief of WOW! Projects at tbk Creative, a web design & social media marketing agency that specializes in building and monetizing online communities around brands. He’s also the founder of the $100 Challenge. To contact Andrew about speaking at your upcoming corporate communications event email him at andrew [ at ] tbkcreative [ dot ] com. Andrew can be followed on Twitter here. To contact tbk Creative, click here.

  • Anna Catalano

    Thanks for sharing our story, Andrew! Social media has changed the nature of friendships and networking! Now we’re only as far as a post or a tweet, and we can help one another change our corners of the world!

    • Andrew Schiestel | tbk Creative

      You bet Anna! It’s great knowing you.


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