There is no doubt, if you want to scale your outreach and grow your network, online is the way to go. No matter the tools you are using to get in touch with your people, online is good. Yet, if you want to develop real connections, offline is the secret sauce.
Many organizations are now focussing their developer relations efforts online only. I get it, it’s less expensive and depending on your goals, it may make more sense. Still, if you want to build stronger links with your community, you’ll need more than that. Don’t get me wrong, I built great bond with people I’ve never met in-person, but nothing beats face to face. Less misunderstanding and easier connections will occur. Better opportunities to truly know someone and share life moments are also priceless. To make it happen, you need to thrive not only for short-terms return on investment. You need to foresee the long-term impacts of this rewarding investment. In the end, it’s all about the people.
I also see this dilemma as one about quality over quantity. I know. The more people connect with you, the bigger the chances are that your company will be successful. Still, by trying not to please everyone and focussing on your main audience, you will have a bigger impact. You will also create what I call “virtual evangelists”: they aren’t on the payroll and still share the love. They like you, your company, your product or your service. They created in a way or in another, a true connection with you. You created a true connection with them! They may even be influencers in your domain. As far as I like the web, that type of connection is harder to make it happen in the virtual world…
Like everything in life, you need to find the right balance. Start your journey of reaching out to your tribe online, but build the foundation of it in real life! You’ll see a tremendous difference that will have a positive impact on your business… and yourself.