Saturday, November 13, 2010

Social Media Creates Communities

How are you deepening or strengthening your personal network? I know, face to face networking is hard for many people. However, you should be investing your time in a diversified way, just like you invest your money in a diversified way. Online and offline networking, different types of groups, some paid, some free, some structured, some free-for-all, some in your industry, and some category protected. Why put all of your eggs in one basket? For you introverts out there, try out a few until you find a group that is welcoming. I am not suggesting you don't have to put any effort into meeting people. Find someone by themselves and introduce yourself. There are so many groups out there and so many people trying out different groups for the first time, you are bound to talk to lots of people in your situation.

My favorite group right now is LinkedOC. This is a pretty diverse group that brings in amazing speakers for minimal cost and there is no membership fee to belong to the group. There are several people that I have met at these events who are active on social media and I love seeing them in person. I met a few of them on social media first and then in person at these events. LinkedOC is definitely a community that exists online and offline.

The title of this post is: Social Media Creates Communities. How is that? Let me give you an example from my industry. In the hospitality / events industry, I have connected to and become better acquainted with many people who live in different parts of the world. I started on LinkedIn and most of the connections I made were with people I had met at face to face networking events. When I started using Twitter, I quickly learned how to use a hashtag to see tweets from other event professionals (#eventprofs). Most of them have blogs, Web Sites or LinkedIn profiles where they extend their personal brand. It has only been recently that I started proactively adding professional contacts to Facebook. I don't need to tell you that Facebook is where you can really get to know someone. Our industry has become more of a community because of these tools.

Back to the introverts. How would you like to belong to a community of people on your computer? As I mentioned, you should participate in networks online and offline, however social networking is a beautiful thing for introverts. Social media creates communities and conversation. Social media is just talking. Who are you talking to? Friends, peers, clients, experts in your industry? Keep the conversations going and find a couple of communities where you belong.