Sunday, February 24, 2008

Friended/Friend-Ed

Friended Friend-ed

So after much resisting, I finally joined/got sucked into the social network of Facebook. Initially designed for college kids to get to know their classmates, it has now gone global, allowing people of all ages and demographics.

As a person in the process of examining friendships, I find this whole concept very interesting. You seek out people from your past or present and connect online. I went and looked up people from my high school class to see if there were any signed up on Facebook and there were several --- including a guy who lived on my street, whom I saw nearly everyday much of my adolescence. I “friended” him, meaning I clicked on a link to add him to my friends list (criteria for “friendship” on these sites is pretty loose). Within a couple hours, this accepted my “friend request.” And then wrote me a message – it went something like this: “Hi – thank you for friending me. I forget—how do we know each other?”

Funny on so many levels:
1) He accepted the request
2) He then emailed me to ask if we knew each other
3) He used theword “friending”
4) We will probably now actually become friends because I friended him
5) I just used the word “friended”

This whole idea of collecting “friends” is an interesting one. In a way, this online social networking is a great thing connecting people who have lost touch, or for whom physical interaction is not possible. But the internet has created this strange world, where people throw around the word “friend,” making it lose meaning.

In some ways I really like this way of networking. It helps connect people. That is a great thing. But I can also see how these online sites can suck away the time that once could spend truly being with another human being. I am the last one who should preach about putting the laptop down, but I do recognize that this can be dangerous territory. We need to be able to physically share space, or at the very least talk to other people. There is too much lost without tone and inflection, or a look, a shrug, a sigh. Words cannot communicate full meaning alone.

That said, I have to go check my Facebook account and see if I have any new friends….

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Friends

In my exploration of friendships & relationships, I have thought a lot lately about how one begins, maintains, and even ends friendships.

Today an old friend asked me how my "friend-making" was going. I am in a new town (been here a year) and I have made a real effort to get out and meet people in the last few weeks. But still I had considered my attempts to have been unfruitful at worst and slow-going at best.

Then I told my old friend about the playgroup I had gone to, where I met three new moms, (and their 62 kids...ok it was like 10 kids...but it was still nuts), and the business networking meeting I had attended, where I met 30 new people, and how I had set 1-on-1's up for this coming week with several of them...and then about the new friend I visited this week with the brand new baby. Then I told her about going to breakfast with a couple we hadn't seen in a couple years who lived near out new home, and the old friend who was driving in from Chapel Hill today to hang out.

I guess I do have friends -- new and old (literally!) It is a great feeling to think of my new home here in Charlotte as home, and the new people in my life as friends. Friendships new, growing, evolving--it is a very fulfilling thing indeed!

Friday, February 15, 2008

What's Your Story?

What's Your Story?
Business networking is sometimes a difficult task. Or rather, the process of continually networking can be difficult. The reason? Our “bag of tricks” isn’t big enough. We hand our business card to someone, or send an email and we wait—and most of the time that is where the networking ends.

How unfortunate!

--and what a waste of time. It is important to remember that networking is a job. It is a fun and rewarding job too, if you do it well, but it is still work. You have to continue to perfect and add to your “bag of tricks” to keep those contacts close, and your circle growing.

One of the best ways to keep networking going is to have a story to tell. Toss that discomfort away, and sit down and think about who you are in business and why. Did you go to college for what you are doing now, or is it something that you fell into? Did you start your now successful business on $500 and a loan from your uncle? Did you get fed up with your job and just quit, without any idea of what you would do next? Think about what makes your story different, and why it is compelling enough for someone to work with you.

This should be a 3-5 minute synopsis (not an entire life story), and it should steer away from too much personal information. Keep your story light and funny, and practice! Write it down, making sure to include the important points and work to improve that story as you get people’s reactions. The delivery is almost as important as the content.

When you are told: “so tell us a little about yourself…” you will have a great story with which to impress people. Below is a quick outline to get your story started:

Give a timeline: “Six years ago I was working a desk job at the DMV…”
Share something funny: “I had told the 50th person in a row that they needed form 82A when it dawned on me…”
Tell about the turning point: “One day I woke up and finally decided to follow my passion…”
Tell what you have accomplished: Since starting the ranch, we have had 1200 kids come to camp…”
Tell why it is so important: “We have been able to give inner-city children a chance to experience life after cancer treatments—it makes me feel like I am really making a difference.”

Sharing your story will make you more personable and give you something to say during those times when you need to make a connection with a new contact. Give them something positive to remember about you, get your story ready today!