What do you do, when you meet a ‘tweet’ pal for the first time In Real Life?

It’s a question that I wrestle with, because I regularly meet people face-to-face after first making a connection with them through Twitter. They’re not blind dates, but they’re pretty close in terms of how awkward you can feel.

In my experience, tweet-ups have been fantastic and I’ve not been disappointed with anyone yet (it’s true!) However I’ve come to recognise a few ‘dance steps’ and wonder if you have, too:

• Nervously wait at assigned meeting point
• Crane your neck, keep look-out for person who will resemble the thumbnail you’ve been communicating with for past weeks/months/years
• See someone vaguely resembling the thumbnail
• Wonder if it’s them
• Realise it IS them
• Wonder if it’s too late to pretend you’re not there
• Awkwardly start moving toward each other
• Think to yourself: do we shake hands? Hug? Cry and hold onto each other like reunited siblings?
• Go for an awkward hand shake
• Settle into warm and relaxed conversation

It’s the physical contact that I find most problematic. @Problogger recounted a story at the recent #cnow social media conference, about a follower who rushed toward him, embraced him fully, and cried onto his neck! She had been following him online for so long, she felt such a strong connection, that she was moved to make physical contact with someone who would ordinarily be a stranger.

I have been tweeting @Jadecraven for quite some time, she’s a fantastic Twitter pal. We met at #cnow for the first time and – knowing we live in separate cities and may not come face to face ever again – I rubbed her arm as we laughed and sighed with relief at finding each other. Later, we hugged goodbye, but when we first met IRL it still felt too forward to hug. (Though I reckon we should have, Jade!)

In many cases, your Twitter pals are your emotional crutches. They listen to you when you vent. They provide helpful information when you tweet a question. They LOL at your mishaps. They endorse your TGIFs. When other friends, or family, are absent or asleep or disinterested, there’s always a tweep available to fill the void.

So it makes sense that they’re pals IRL, right?

Or does it?

Photo by @idrewthis , with @markgamtcheff @missbiancab and @ashsimmonds at a #socadl tweetup.