Last night we all headed to the Roger Smith Hotel to celebrate Greg Verdino's book launch, microMARKETING. It was great to be in the same room with my colleagues and many long time friends. It made me realize how valuable it is to spend time with people when attending conferences and events.
Having talked and connected in the past provided an opportunity to catch up and find out how everyone is doing. It was also interesting to talk with professional communicators, public relations people, marketers, and customer service people who have acquired deep experience in social media by helping companies solve problems that involve getting up to speed on what customers, partners, and employees are saying and doing.
People who are social
None of us seemed to have started as social media people. It was something we joined for personal interest and to explore new avenues to connect, serve customers, and help companies. In fact, I suspect that those of us who have been at it for ten plus years may have encountered a lot of skepticism at first.
I remember when instead of just going to professional association events, I decided I wanted to take a stab at getting people together for essentially what today we call tweet ups and BaseCamps, Podcamps, etc. People got the get together part -- to network, exchange business cards, meet people -- they had a hard time getting the working together with people they never met, discuss *their* business models and ideas, etc.
From sharing to connecting
The sharing thing was a bit uncomfortable, especially when there were HR people mixed in with marketing people, entrepreneurs, consultants, and coaches. What good would that do to us?
For a while, when things got bad between 2001 and well into 2002, it was really hard for some to keep coming out to events and participate, even as every single event was free to attend. We were competing with looking for a new job to keep the lights on. So it was important to make those meet ups super useful.We did that by insisting on having great content, sharing what we knew, and helping support each other. In all honesty, it was quite refreshing. Whenever I networked at professional associations I usually found myself among competitors -- people who felt there were only so many jobs and accounts and they had to have them.
By comparison, sharing and asking for advice, trying new things in the network we were building felt energizing and safe. We believed we could make a difference, and so we did. For us being social was simply finding those points of departure for meaningful conversations, creating ways to satisfy our need to have a purpose, and find an avenue to express our desire to contribute.
Walking the talk
We carried those ideas to our respective jobs and companies. It changed the way many of us worked and operated -- more across silos, with a better grasp of how to think about solving problems creatively, and a desire to evangelize meeting formats as vehicles to connect.
Which is why when we write across continents -- my long time friend and community builder Brian has been in Asia for the good part of a year, Peter, who I have known for 10 years, still manages to teach me about intention and intent from Australia -- I still feel connected. It was the same with many of the people who were in the room last night.
We share in our respective and common desire to connect and make a difference. Geoff Linvingston is spearheading #citizengulf to help the communities affected by the BP oil spill, others are helping organizations reconnect with their customers and building communities around shared beliefs and passions.
Today, it is my privilege to help moderate #kaizenblog chat around community building through the art of connecting. One of the most frequent questions people ask me is why do you do it? What makes you devote so much energy to helping people connect (we're using #twconnect on Twitter, if you want to do it too) with resources, jobs, and other people?
I do it because I believe it makes a difference. Join us on the chat today and in this movement and you will see why believing is the most important thing you can do. You matter, and you can get big results by thinking and acting small (thank you, Greg).
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