I find that people are more forthcoming in an online environment than in real life. I attended last month’s 27dinner and Johannesburg’s Twestival (yesterday, 12 Feb) and I found that (at both events) people weren’t quick to introduce themselves (well except for Lionel du Plessis, Reuben Goldberg, Richard Mulholland and Don Packett last night).

An event like the Twestival attracts the geekier crowd (Twitter has not gone mainstream), and I think it’s safe to assume that a lot of geeks are shy. I’m all for networking online and admit I’m one of those who wont just go up to someone and say, “Hi, I’m Nafisa and you must be….”. Sounds a bit stalkerish. If you’ve built a ‘relationship’ with someone online for a while, then introducing yourself comes naturally.

While chatting to the SingleSyllable last night, we agreed that people on Twitter know what they want and know why they’re there. Twitter is a very powerful tool, if used properly. It’s also natural to network with like-minded individuals. However, I think it makes a difference if you not only follow a person on Twitter, but their personal blog too and after that, the idea of meeting irl is just the next step. Relationships like these tend to have a more solid foundation.

During my time as content & community manager at My Digital Life, I built a lot of relationships online with numerous bloggers and when we had a MOB (meeting of the bloggers), introducing ourselves came naturally; there were no uncomfortable or awkward moments. Conversation flowed.

Social networking has indeed changed the way people communicate. There’s no beating around the bush.

Just the way I like it.