Last night I made one of my rare visits to London to meet up with people at the Ecademy 10th Birthday Celebrations at the Selfridges Hotel. Over 500 people were crammed into a pretty small area. Trying to match names to faces and faces to names. Most people were wandering round the room glass or bottle in hand glancing at about chest height to read people's name badges before then connecting with the face and seeing if they recognised them.
It was a great opportunity to meet up with people I've been connected with online but never actually met in person as well as some familiar faces who I have met before. Not only do people not necessarily look like their photos but you forget about the height thing. You have no idea of a person's height, so it's surprising when someone you thought was short turns out to be tall and someone who you'd got in your mind as being tall is actually quite short.
Even when you have a photo - you still form a picture in your mind of what the person actually looks like and sounds like. When you meet them in real life the reality is different. After all, you're talking to a real life person and not a 2D snapshot of them.
If you spend time networking online - exchanging messages or even talking on the phone isn't the same make sure you meet up with people in real life too. It makes a big difference.