When Alison stopped by our office and told us this story, we knew it was a great example of the power of online ties, and we’re very happy she agreed to write a guest post for us…
A few weeks ago I hopped on a plane for San Francisco to visit one of my dearest friends Elizabeth (@ElizabethPW). She had a sick little girl in the hospital to take care of, and as I would for any of my friends, I wanted to be there for her. I didn’t do anything special. I delivered coffee, kept them company, shared in collective stress, laughter, frustration, joy and fear. I gave as much space as I could, while keeping close enough to be on call. I stayed as long as I was able and then I went home.
An ordinary story of friendship.
What is special about my story is that a year ago I didn’t know Elizabeth and that since meeting we have only been in the same room a handful of times. Our entire friendship, from who introduced us, to how we met and have gotten to know one another, to how I was able to get on that plane, are all the result of the time we have spent connecting online.
I live online. I am one of those people who never leave their phone at home and who won’t buy a purse my laptop can’t fit in. I would recognize Pete Cashmore before LeBron James. I don’t rest, I unplug. So, in March of 2009, when I learned about Twitter and opened my account, it was just like one of the many other sites I belong to. Like everyone else who finds an online home there, it took some time to figure things out and find the people I was looking for. But I did, and it has been an amazing experience.
I found these amazing people by giving. I gave time, I was myself, I cared and I chatted. I got to know people. I built relationships online, that I never would have otherwise. I have tweeted almost 20,000 times, more than 75% of those are @ replies, which means they are conversations. If you find me on Twitter and say hi (which I hope you will), you will see me talking about parenting, business, music, and the day-to-day stuff that makes life great. People make fun of Twitter for the random stuff. Tweets about what you had for lunch or something your kid does. But I don’t buy that. Life is random stuff. Human stuff. We connect over the sequences and surprises that are life.
Because of Twitter I can go almost anywhere and know someone. I have a trusted resource to ask questions and get referrals. Because of Twitter, I count brilliant authors, business people, adventurers, academics and philanthropists as my friends. I found a community of parents and entrepreneurs – both wonderful, challenging and often isolating things to do – to share my journey. I met my very best friend and work buddy Scott (@unmarketing) through Twitter. Changed my life.
Because of Twitter, my business has access to thousands of opinions. A community made up of my customers, supporters and peers. A way to listen to what my market is saying about us (and our competition) and find out what they are looking for in new and existing products. I have the unique ability to answer questions, concerns and compliments with a personal reply that can be shared and seen exponentially.
Because of Twitter, I have met some of the most amazing and supportive people that I have ever known. And it is because of Twitter, that I was able to make that trip July 3rd to practice friendship, using a free ticket to San Francisco I was given by Klout and Virgin America. That is why I was able to hop on a plane to visit my “online” friend and be there for her in real life. And I am so truly grateful for it.
Real relationships can happen online. Great people are waiting. All you have to do is jump in, be yourself and say hi.
Alison is a mother and owner of Nummies Nursing Bras. She is a writer, hot yoga addict, reluctant runner and passionate about making moms and moms-to-be feel beautiful. You can learn more about Alison by reading her blog and check out Nummies stuff at www.nummies.com.