Practice safe social networking…
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Last week I hosted my first ever tweetup. (A face-to-face social gathering of people who interact on Twitter.) I was enamored with the thought of meeting my new virtual friends in person. As someone who is passionate about connecting, it is the natural next step in relationships I build. In social networks, especially via Twitter, it is increasingly becoming the norm to host events like tweetups as the first time to interact with people face-to-face.
A few hours before the tweetup I managed to persuade a new Twitter friend, Brent Payne, to come and hang out. Brent works and lives downtown Chicago and our tweetup was held in a suburb about 40 minutes outside the city. He was going to take the train to the suburbs and I said I would pick him up.
Before I went to pick up Brent a wave of fear hit me–we knew absolutely NOTHING about one another. My mother’s voice was in the back of my head, “are you insane? meeting a man you’ve never met AND you’re letting him in your car?” Not being a social networker herself, the concept of meeting someone “you met on the internet” is ABSURD (I’m sure she’d use a much stronger word)! (By the way, Brent is a super cool dude!)
Needless to say, everything turned out fine. In fact, when we introduced ourselves, we both laughed at how awkward the situation was and proceeded to disclose that we both took safety precautions before the tweetup. The point of this post is this–always practice safe social networking.
If you plan on meeting up with someone you’ve never met face-to-face, here are a few tips:
- Google them. Take a look at their online presence. Are they well connected across many networks? Have they been around for at least six months to a year?
- Shared connections. (There’s nothing wrong with asking about someone prior to a meet up. Check to see if you share any mutual connections.)
- Publicly tweet/message the name of the person(s) and location of your meeting across your social networks.
- Exchange phone numbers. Call the number to verify it belongs to that person. Then give the phone number and any other contact information you have about that person to your partner or a trusted friend.
- Meet in a group setting in a public location. (Don’t meet at your home!)
- If you’re meeting up with several people you’ve never met, verify that the others are coming.
- Drive yourself or get your own transportation to the meet up. (I know…I broke my own rule in my example.)
Most importantly, trust your gut. If a request to meet “doesn’t feel right,” don’t do it. There are several internet safety resources out there. It can’t hurt to take a peak.
DISCLAIMER: This post is in no way meant to deter face-to-face meetings, in fact I encourage it (and will continue to host and attend them myself).
What are your tips/thoughts about safe social networking?