If you read my post on Social Media Strategies then you might be interested in using social media to network online with local people. This isn't so hard with Facebook and LinkedIn because you'll meet people and they'll send you friend or connection requests. You can then start engaging with them through these networks.
But how can you find local people to network with in Twitter? I'm glad you asked because I have an awesome tool to help you with that pressing problem. It's called Twitter Elite and it's a tool provided by Hubspot, the company that brought you the great book, Inbound Marketing. If you want to learn a LOT about social media and being found online, get this book. Use the handy Amazon box to the right to search for it and get it.
Anyway, with Twitter Elite you enter in a city and state where you want to find people to follow. I started with Burlingame, California since that's where I'm located.
You'll quickly get a list of 50 top twitterers from that locale. I'm currently number 42 on the list. I'd better hustle to stay on the list!
So, you now have a good list to start with. Comb through the list and start following people that you'd like to get to know. Then, look for their tweets in your twitter stream or by going directly to their profile to see a list of their most recent tweets. Reply or retweet them as appropriate. Once they see this they'll probably follow you back if you look interesting and the conversation can begin.
If you're not finding enough interesting people in your first city search, then check the cities in the surrounding area. Be picky since you really want to get to know these people. Don't follow the whole city.
Keep up your effort and before you know it you'll have a few new contacts that you've connected with and can start to look at ways to help each other.
Try this and tell me what you think. I believe this is an excellent way of finding new local contacts on Twitter and am very grateful to Hubspot for creating it.