One week ago, I was in Chicago and had the chance to catch a soccer game, take a water taxi and eat deep-dish pizza with two friends from high school. A few days later, I met up with another high school friend, realizing our paths have crossed so many years later. Reminded of my last visit to Chicago, I reached out to two college friends who I caught up with then. While in Chicago, I exchanged emails with a college friend in California and we shared our current appreciation of the entrepreneurial spirit. Near the end of the week, I had lunch with a former colleague and on the walk back, I ran into a friend from college who I haven’t seen in year. To close out the week, I attended a reggae concert where I ran into four other friends from college.

All of these encounters caught my attention and reminded me about the importance of people and connecting. In the digital age, it is easy to tweet, text, or write on someone’s wall but there are still benefits to stepping away from technology and connecting in person.

Here are some tried-and-true benefits of disconnecting to connect:

Human interaction calls for making time.  The human experience is optimized when we spend time with others. At its essence, the human experience is about sharing our lives; our successes are that much sweeter when we celebrate with our supporters.  This is why we like birthdays, cake and food; they all bring people together and make for a feel-good experience.  So when it comes to getting to know others and building relationships, real-life interaction provides a holistic and multi-dimensional approach that online doesn’t.  In addition to carrying on a conversation as you can digitally, it offers spontaneous, unedited and less contrived elements that help you see different sides of a person.

Showing up counts.  It takes an additional level of effort to show up and be present.  And a track record of consistently showing up for your friends, family and colleagues holds a lot of weight and speaks for itself.  If you’re consistently dependable, trustworthy, supportive and reliable, you’ll easily come to mind as their go-to person who always comes through. When the day comes that you may need a favor, they won’t hesitate to lend a helping hand.

Become part of the inner circle faster.  There’s a reason why meeting friends and family early in a relationship serves as classic milestones.  Inherently, we like to have a stamp of approval from those who mean a lot to us and whose opinions we value.  The same goes for platonic friends and professional colleagues; and taking your connections offline allow you to do this.  Once you get approval, you’re more likely to include new people in our activities, thereby bringing them into your circle faster.

Create a support network.  By building relationships, you increase the probability of creating mutually supportive networks.  Give first before you even think of taking and others will be inclined to do the same for you.  Overtime, you’ll become top-of-mind to people with whom you’ve cultivated shared trust, admiration and respect.

What is your experience with your online relationships versus those you build offline?  Do they develop in the same way?

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