Have you ever met someone face to face who you initially met through Twitter?

That’s #TWIRL — Twitter in Real Life — a phrase coined by Whitney Johnson, the author of Dare, Dream, Do, a client of my company, a mentor to me, a friend.

Whitney landed on the phrase while seeking to talk about that incredible experience when you get to know someone online and then meet, finally, face to face.

I’ve been on Twitter since April 2009 and in preparation to write this post, I tried to remember when I first met a friend from Twitter in real life. It’s sad — or maybe it’s evidence of how very often I’ve connected with folks in person — but I couldn’t remember that first #TWIRL. (Was it Lisa Rosendahl?)

Instead, I’ll tell you about a recent #TWIRL.

Just yesterday, my daughters and I visited a local hospital to sit with a friend during her father-in-law’s surgery. Her extended family filled an entire corner of the waiting room, camped out like groupies waiting to buy concert tickets: pillows, coolers, blankets — they settled in for the long vigil.

The arrival of my chatty daughters and I broke up the monotony of the wait, and soon someone asked, “How did you two meet?”

And when you talk about #TWIRL, sometimes it seems a bit unbelievable.

Well, we met on Twitter. We discovered that we lived relatively close geographically. We discovered common interests and faith. Our kids are close in age (even if we aren’t!) We got together for dinner. We stay in touch on Twitter and through texts. And now we’re friends in real life.

And my friends’ family, they looked a bit surprised. When I tell friends and family members about all the real life connections I’ve made through social media, they look the same way.

They ask: Really? Yes.

What about safety?

Typically, I know someone for quite some time online before I meet them in person. We have common connections, so others can let me know if someone is trustworthy, if needed. I read their writing, and get to know them through their updates on Facebook or other social media channels. We talk on the phone first.

A Gathering of Twitter Friends, In Real Life (#TWIRL)

Without exception, the friends I’ve met through Twitter have been exactly as I expected them to be: delightful, interesting, inspiring, fun, and smart.

Have you ever met a friend from Twitter in real life? If not, I encourage you to take the next step toward that, today.

Your step may be to get to know someone a bit better by deepening a connection.

Or, perhaps you will want to initiate a phone call.

Maybe you know someone well enough to suggest a face to face meeting.

Whatever your next step, take it.

Today’s Tip: Take a Step toward #TWIRL

Set your timer for 12 minutes and take your next step toward meeting a Twitter friend in real life. Send a message to initiate a phone call, or contact a local connection you’ve never met in person to suggest a meeting for coffee or lunch.

Tell me something! What experiences have you had with #TWIRL? If you’ve never met a Twitter friend in real life, what is holding you back?

How will you use your 12 minutes? 

My friend Wally Bock shares daily tips for leaders at the Three Star Leadership Blog. You can read his tips here.