Except they aren’t really strangers. I “know” them from social media.
As some of you probably know, I throw events that draw several hundred people. The vast majority of the guests are complete strangers, except they really aren’t. I “know” them.
Let me give you a few examples. One of the first companies to sign up for Mass Innovation Nights, Christine from Lexalytics and I connected via Twitter when I started promoting the Waltham Food & Wine Festival. Christine grew up in Waltham. We had a lovely exchange via DMs. She decided that she would sign her company up for the Mass Innovation Nights event. Then, I was invited to an event at my alma mater, Ithaca College. When I tweeted about my road trip, I found out that Christine also attended Ithaca and we even shared a major! You bet I was thrilled to see her when she walked in the door Wednesday night.
@TheBetsy and I first connected when I missed my intended debut at the Boston Media Makers event. (I got lost and never did find Doyle’s that day! But other friends have helped me get there more recently.) We tweeted, DMed, and emailed, and finally one night ended up on a long phone call chatting about work and kids. We “tweet” regularly. She’s been a HUGE supporter of Mass Innovation Nights. Made wonderful introductions and suggestions. Big hug when we finally met at the first Mass Innovation Nights event!
Todd Randolph showed up on the day of the first Mass Innovation Nights and helped me lug stuff into the museum. We’ve met a couple of times at various networking events and out of the blue he just showed up and helped me carry things. Just because he’s a nice person – big virtual hug goes out to him!
Together Rachel and Joselin run @BostonTweetup, a Twitter account you can depend on to tell you the most important social media meetings each week. I run into one or the other of them all over town. They’ve become good friends and we’ll “cross the room” to seek each other out.
Sunday’s Globe carried a column about the germ spreading potential of the handshake. And, when I met up with Sarah Bourne, another twitterer, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting face-to-face, we talked about how hugging was probably less likely to spread germs than handshakes.
Much has been written about the sad state of our emotional and social affairs. We have “friends” we have never met and tell them our deepest, darkest secrets. But used as an extension of your personal network, you can use social networking tools to help you make more real world friends – friends you want to give a hug to when you meet them. Indeed Twitter makes this easy as it lists the location of your friend and allows you to understand who you might just be able to run into.
I use Twitter to extend my local network, inviting people to the monthly product launch party I host. I use LinkedIn to re-locate former co-workers. I use Facebook to rediscover my high school and college friends and keep up with their lives. And, I use all these social networking tools to keep up, catch up and meet up with my new friends.