Making friends and influencing people – online style
I remember this being the title of a book. I don’t know when it was written, who it was by and how I came across it, but I distinctly remember the front cover, and the fact it was a book about networking. The title has always stuck with me though, and I’ve always pondered on what it means to me.
I’ve never found it massively easy to make friends, despite the fact I’m not shy and I certainly have a fair amount to say for myself. When it comes to friendships, and I mean real and deep connections, it has always been a case of small and perfectly formed for me. It was that way at school, and continued through university. It wasn’t that I didn’t know a lot of people, and at university I got much better at making those links and connections – those that have stayed with me over the years are small in number, but incredible in value.
Now, as I get older, my social circle gets wider and smaller all at once. Four sets of work colleagues, people I have met through hobbies or volunteering all add to the people I enjoy spending my time with (and I hope vice versa). I love spending time with friends, and always wish to do it more. But in the back of my mind I worry: many of my close friends live, or are moving far away (to the other side of the world) and rather selfishly I have started to think about what that means for me!! I don’t think it’s that easy to make friends in the big bad world, and I don’t want to be left on the friendship shelf either.
So social media and the online world. Good place to make lasting friendships? Well it appears to be culturally acceptable in the dating world, so why not with friends? It seems that many people question the validity of platonic relationships struck up online. I mean surely only losers and hermits make friends using the Internet right?
Well if that’s true, I’m a loser who has made some fantastic friends using the power of 140 characters and a witty repartee.
Let me explain. Over the past 18 months, I have been using Twitter alot to reach out to people who I meet at work networking type events (hashtags for events are great for this, as you can tweet at people at the event without having to just launch yourself at them which can be a bit scary) as well as to find people with similar interests. None more so than Lea, Eleni and Darrell who I count among my best friends and who I met really through a chance online encounter.
Wind the clock forward, and here I am working with an editorial team all of whom I didn’t know before meeting online and all of whom are mow amongst my closest friends. A day doesn’t go by when I don’t have a facebook chat with our Michelle, or when I don’t exchange insults with Lea over multiple mediums in the way only the closest of friends can.
Blogging, tweeting and the online world have brought more to my life than I can ever have imagined. I have found work sucesses and opportunities, laughs and real support. Added to that, it has made me more confident to get out and network, and get better at those face to face meetings too.
Has social media allowed us to be more forward with ourselves and our friend advances? I say so. In reality I haven’t really known these people all that long, but I feel like I’ve known them for ages. I don’t suppose it would be the same if we hadn’t got to know each other first via Twitter.
I hope this will become more common. Like online dating, It’s nothing to be ashamed of. In the busy, fractured world we live in, any opportunity to connect with others and share is a great thing. Nerves aside, meeting my online friends was the best thing I have done for ages, and I can’t wait to share many more online and real life memories with them.