Do you remember being a kid and running into your favorite teacher at the grocery store, walking with her husband and child? Suddenly, you could see her in an entirely different light.

My teacher buys toilet paper and toothpaste. She likes the same kind of cereal I like. That’s her son; he’s my age.¬†

The information you gained by seeing your teacher in a different environment added a new dimension to your relationship with her and humanized her. No longer just your teacher; after that encounter you saw her more as a whole person with a life outside the classroom.

As adults, we all realize that people are multidimensional, but sometimes we lack the ability to see beyond our limited connections to others. When our interaction is limited to one social media platform, we may have an even more narrow view. @john123 is his avatar, a smiling face, someone who retweets us occasionally. We may have never even clicked to his profile to learn more about his likes and dislikes.

This tip challenges us to see people more clearly by deepening our connections.

Set your timer for 12 minutes and take the time to deepen some of your social media connections by interacting in a new online environment. If you’ve only been connected on Twitter, send your contacts friend requests on Facebook or find and like their fan pages. Find and circle a few contacts on Google+ or connect via LinkedIn. To take this tip one more step, connect via Skype and plan a short phone call. The more connection points you find with someone, the more likely you are to see them as they really are.

For this tip, you may only want to focus on deepening one online relationship. As you look for more ways to connect, read the person’s profiles, click links to websites/blogs, and look for common interests and ways you can help or add value to your online friend.

Remember, focused, consistent effort makes a difference.

I hope you’ll share in the comments about your experiences deepening connections with your online contacts and come back for more tips to help you build your online presence in 2012.

photo credit zoovroo