Today, I read Showing Your Appreciation to Facebook Friends - 9 Ideas by Mike Brown. In it, he describes how to go beyond the typical “liking” method on Facebook to show more thought and appreciation for the people in your social network. According to him, the moral of the story here is that “social media is about being social.” When I read that blog post, I thought, “We spend so much time now thinking about social media and the social web, we often neglect ways to connect offline.” After all, the social web is intended to better allow us to connect with each other. So with that, here are 7 ways to make people feel special offline.

1. Pick up the phone

Social media is very good at keeping us informed of life changes. Facebook tells us when it’s someone's birthday, if they change their relationship status, etc. LinkedIn sends us updates when somebody changes jobs or receives a new credential. RSS feeds allow us to know when people and organizations post updates. When you notice something important about someone you care about, go beyond the “like” or “share” and pick up the phone. Verbally express your appreciation, condolences, or happiness. It’s a great way to have personal contact and it will make the other person feel like a real person.

2. Write a card

Although postage is ever-increasing, there’s still something to be said about taking the time to hand write a card. You don’t have to wait for a holiday or life event. If somebody has been on your mind, send a quick “just because” card. I make it a personal goal to recognize at least one person each week who has made some kind of positive impact in my life by sending them a card.

3. Write a note

Notes are different than cards. A note is simply a few words or a couple of sentences that communicates a specific message for various occasions. An example of a note is, “Thank you for introducing me to Michael. As you suggested, we did enjoy our lunch and I appreciate the connection. Just thought I’d let you know.”

4. Send a newspaper or magazine clipping, or a picture

Have you ever been reading the newspaper or a magazine and thought, “Oh you know who would love this? My friend Jamie would love this article.” Sure, you can email them a link to the  clipping. And there is nothing wrong with doing that. But it’s sometimes fun to receive a highlighted couple of lines that reminded that person of you. Also, if you come across an old picture, send a copy of that. The other day I received a picture message from a neighbor back home of a note she found when cleaning out her (now adult) school stuff.

You never know when someone is paying attention

5. Surprise them with an inexpensive gift

When I moved to Seattle, one of my friends sent me a zebra print ice scraper as a gag gift. Although zebra print isn’t really my style, the thought made me feel special (and it did come in handy during the winter). Chocolate bars, backed goods, fruit baskets, and gift cards also make good gifts. Just keep the person you're sending it to in mind.

6. Create an offline event.

About a year ago when I was still living in San Antonio, I realized that I hadn't seen any of the tourist spots. I took the place for granted because I lived there. “I can always see the Alamo,” I’d tell myself. After talking with friends we found that many of us thought the same way. So I created a series of events called Sunday Fundays in which we we would declare a touristy thing to do and later end up at one of our houses to unwind.

7. Connect your friends with other friends or colleagues

For me one of the ultimate signs of appreciation is connecting two people whom you respect greatly. Recently, just before making a trip out to portland, I received an email from Sally Bell addressed to both Graeme Byrd (@graemefbyrd) and me stating simply, “You too need to meet!” While in Portland, Graeme and I met up because of the respect and trust we both hold in Sally. And she was right—turned out to be a good connection.

So that’s seven offline ways to show your online community you appreciate them. I know this isn’t an exhaustive list. What would you add? How have you expressed or received offline appreciation?

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