One of the great wonders of the Internet age is the ease with which people of like minds can find one another. When people say they don’t understand Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, it just means they haven’t found the “like minds” hook that matters to them yet.
I joined Twitter four years ago, but only really started using it about three or four months ago. I joined Facebook in Jan. 2007, and then went for a year before I posted even read anything. I also joined LinkedIn in 2007–February, to be exact–but went even longer before really using it. It just took awhile to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of each.
Though this blog focuses on effective communication rather than social media, social media is a growing form of communication. If you remain confused why anyone would use these services, or if you ignore any of them because you prefer face-to-face communication, read on. I also prefer face-to-face communication, but these services help form genuine connections and friendships.
This a huge subject, even with our special focus, so I will break it into two parts.
Through Twitter I have made new friends
For me, Twitter is mainly a means of finding like-minded folks regarding certain passions: speaking, writing, effective communication, higher education, flipping classrooms, etc. It’s an easy way to tell interested people when I publish a new blog post, but most of my own tweets just share something I think followers will find interesting. It’s also a place to learn when others publish a blog post or find something of shared interest.
Many of those “others” are what some would cynically call “professional friends,” connected only because of a shared interest in speaking or academics. But I contend all connections depend on shared interests, whether those connections are “real world” or virtual. Twitter connections sometimes lead to emails, and some of these move over into Facebook, some don’t. Still, the connections are at least as strong as those I used to have with co-workers face-to-face in the pre-digital world.
For example, in the last month or so I have stumbled across at least three colleagues whom I likely would not otherwise have met. They knew each other before I “met” any of them, but they all met via virtual connections. They include:
- Michelle Mazur, who blogs at Relationally Speaking and tweets from @michelle_mazur. She’s a public speaking and leadership coach and, of course, a speaker who lives in Seattle, all the way across the nation from me, and yet shares oddly similar experiences.
- Ellen Bremen, who blogs at The Chatty Professor and tweets from @chattyprofessor. Also from Seattle, she’s a fellow academic–we’ve both received Excellence awards from NISOD, though in different years, and she teaches at a community college like I do. Unless we happened to meet at NISOD, we would likely never have met without Twitter.
- Lauren Hug, who blogs at HugSpeak and tweets from @laurenhug, is a lawyer who uses her speaking and communication skills in court, and also blogs about and coaches people in effective communication skills. Except for the fact that NISOD is in Austin, Texas, where she lives and works, again, I likely would never have run across her.
At this point, I can’t remember which of these folks led me to whom, but I know that I find myself sharing their blog posts more than just about any others, and they seem to have found my posts useful as well.
[Edit: Michelle told me she had slated a post for publication along the same lines. You know what they say: Great Minds Think Alike. It’s cool to be mentioned in her post!]
In Part 2, we’ll consider how Facebook and LinkedIn fill different roles, and yet form an important part of effective communication these days.
*I apologize to those of you in whom I just induced a never-ending song loop. (If you’ve wondered what that is called, welcome to a new term: earworm.)