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By Michele Scism
The Results Lady

Having an accountability partner you can get together with “in real life” (IRL) adds a new dimension to your partnership. Knowing someone “in real life,” not just online or via phone, is very different than communicating virtually and it brings some nuances to the table that a virtual partnership wouldn't. Here's an overview of what you need to know about teaming up with an in-person accountability partner:

Pros: It's much harder to blow off an in-person appointment with your buddy than a phone call or email-check in, so teaming up with someone you meet regularly for lunch or coffee can help keep you on task. Also, you may feel more comfortable with someone you know outside the computer screen. And don't forget the benefit of getting out of the office and away from your desk – being in a new environment occasionally can re-energize you. Also, if your meetings are scheduled around walking or jogging you can kill two birds with one stone and get exercise while you brainstorm. One more thing: Because you're in the same place at the same time, you can help each other with off-line marketing, computer training, etc.

Cons: Because you're meeting in the “real world,” you can get distracted and feel like you have to hold to societal niceties rather than just being laser-focused on your work issues – especially true if your partner is also a friend or colleague. Also, meeting in person isn't always convenient, and can take more time than a virtual check-in – especially if you're meeting for meals with your accountability partner. In addition, if you are looking for someone in your area, you have a much more limited pool to choose from. You can also face issues of personality – some traits that might not bother you online or over the phone could be irritating in person.

Suggestions: To avoid some of the cons above, make sure that both you and your partner are committed to staying on topic and maximizing your time together. Set an agenda for your meetings and stick to it. If you're worried that you might not hit it off with someone in person, set a trial period before committing to a long-term partnership. And, do not settle for someone just because he/she is convenient. Your time is valuable. Choose wisely.

If you take the time to think through the issues above, having an in-person accountability partner can prove to be the perfect match, expanding your horizons and giving you some much-needed time away from the computer.