Making Online and Offline Connections looks at how the virtual world changed how we connect to others. In it, I state that the online world made it possible for me to become a full-time freelancer. It got me thinking how I met people in this virtual world.

I met a few through blogs, especially in earlier days. We bloggers left comments or sent emails to each other. Over time, we learned about each other and became friends. Another is a client who became a friend. I found the client because I interviewed (by email, of course) a co-worker of his who connected us.

Two other clients come from referrals from someone I met on the Internet; one through his own blog and the other from working on a Web site together. IVWCC, an online networking group, also brought in more clients and friends.

I completed an online certification program at New York University. One of the professors asked me to be his TA (teacher assistant). Eventually, I lost the job because there were not enough students enrolled in the program to warrant a TA as a result of the dot com crash. Over a year later, NYU contacted me again (a different program) because someone from the previous program recommended me.

A recent gig came from the editor’s using the search engine to find me. He did a great job because my experience fit well with what he needed. I’ve also gotten gigs by replying to online ads.

Obviously, the Internet offers many routes for meeting people and finding gigs (emphasis on gigs as the chance of finding a full-time job is only about 8% as reported in a career-related column). Possible ways to meet others online:

  • Blogs: Leave a comment and link to another person’s entry from yours.
  • Forums and email mailing groups: Join discussions.
  • Email newsletters: I respond to all emails and survey responses. I’ve also connected with people with their own newsletters.
  • Online groups: Like IVWCC. Or you might be one of many bloggers like Blogcritics. The site also has a mailing list for its writers and editors.
  • Web site: One that’s content-rich and frequently updated (this is where a blog or blogging-tool can help). Even having a profile in Amazon can lead to meeting people. People have contacted me that way even though I haven’t quite made it into the top 1000 reviewers list.
  • Emails: Contacting people. Email a writer to pay a compliment on an article. Email a business to congratulate on a recent success. Many business people write articles and include their bylines.
  • Articles: This is the flip side of emails. One of my first freelance gigs came from a guy who contacted me based on an article I wrote. There, I met another editor and we recently connected and helped each other (she submitted an article for one of the newsletters I managed and I answered interview questions for her blog). I’ve got a huge list of article banks. Need to post them here.
  • Chats: You might attend a chat where there’s a guest. Usually chats are secondary — meaning you meet the person some other way before you talk in instant messenger.

You never know who you’ll meet through the Internet. Just interact with the virtual world and enjoy the surprises that come your way.