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Real Life: Here, There, and Everywhere

There was a time, not so long ago, when people believed that relationships formed online somehow simply weren’t real. These were designated virtual relationships developed, perhaps in a chat room or perhaps in an online forum -- but clearly detached from every-day life. As such, they were typically regarded as somehow suspect; and if not ignored altogether, at least they required a different set of networking strategies.

Yet, in a world where social media fosters acceleration of interpersonal connections, and online interactions support the deepening of relationships, the distinction between virtual and real life relationships is increasingly meaningless. And while we still see people expressing interest in meeting up IRL (In Real Life), the bonding that can take place over a series of online interactions is no less real than the bonding that happens in the course of face-to-face meetings, or telephone calls.

Certainly, face-to-face conversations provide the richest information about the people we meet, yet, we don’t typically treat relationships built over the phone as less real. Think about it. When was the last time you said, “I can wait to meet you in real life,” to a colleague you’ve only interacted with by phone? Most likely, you haven’t. That being the case, what makes it logical to say it to a person you’ve only interacted with on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn?

Let’s face it. Saying “in real life” sets up an awkward distinction. So, it’s time for a new one; and here’s a clue to what it is:



Seeing this IBM commercial during an NFL game, it occurred to me that as the notion of  “Cloud Computing” goes mainstream, we now have a new way to think about how our relationships start and grow based on the medium of communication, which can include face-to-face at a specific location, over the phone, or “in the cloud” on various social platforms. All are real. Available everywhere! And all can grow and develop using the same relationship building skills, especially across mediums.

 Cross-posted at Threshold Consulting.

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More Stories By William Arruda

Dubbed 'The Personal Branding Guru’ by Entrepreneur magazine, William Arruda is a pioneering brand strategist, speaker, author and founder of Reach Personal Branding. He is credited with turning the concept of personal branding into a global industry.

William delivers keynotes and workshops on the transformative power of personal branding for some of the world’s most successful companies. He energizes and motivates his audiences—and his private clients include some of the world’s most influential leaders. As a thought-leader, William is a sought-after spokesperson on personal branding, social media and leadership. He has appeared on BBC TV, the Discovery Channel and Fox News Live and he’s been featured in countless publications, including Time Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and the New York Times. William is the coauthor of the bestselling book Career Distinction. He is a member of the International Coach Federation and the National Speakers Association. He holds a Master’s Degree in Education.

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