Following up on my post about social media dying and what’s next, I thought I’d share a bit more.

Twitter is an amazing place to meet new people. But it takes work. It takes time. Just like real life. The cool thing is that you don’t have to leave your computer to travel the world connecting with people. The other piece is how it allows you to find people with whom you share common interests. Like Marketing or even cupcakes. It’s much harder to strike up a conversation with a stranger walking around at lunch. You’d likely get punched or at best some funny looks . . .

I’m sure Tom Moradpour would laugh if I suddenly called him at work to chat about the Gap logo fiasco that led to #UsGuys. I know I’d think twice if someone did that to me. We’re too busy for such random interruptions. But when you embrace a medium like Twitter, it’s different. Like meeting in a coffee shop and striking up a conversation over a shared experience.

But there’s a limit to the 140 characters. Unless someone knows your communication style, you risk offending if you come across snarky or sarcastic. I can certainly dial up an offbeat sense of humor and connect some pretty weird dots, and that’s hard to show online. Just like email, it’s tough to convey emotion. Sure, you can toss in a :-) or ;-) or :-( now and then, but really, does that show the nuances? I think not.

There’s just no substitute for face to face communication. We humans are not wired (yet, anyhow) to communicate solely via a computer terminal. It’s too sterile. Creates an artificial barrier. But it is a catalyst for building relationships.

Studies show that as much as 90% of communication is non-verbal. (The estimates range from 65 – 90% with a UCLA study pushing it to 93%). That means as little as 10% comes through via the words we share online.

So now that I’ve met some really wonderful people online, I want to connect in real life. I had that chance with Valeria Maltoni and Christina Kerley this year and found them to be wonderful people in person too. In fact their online personnas effectively represented their in-person selves.

Having said that, I’m realizing I want more of the in-person kind of connections. And that’s my goal for 2011: to connect locally and meet more of my Twitter friends face-to-face.

We lost one of our great colleagues this year to cancer – far before his time. I was just getting to know Scott better when the cancer really took hold. He fought hard. And inspired many of us. That reaffirms how precious our time is and that we all need to focus on what matters.

Much like what Chris Guillebeau talks about in The Art of Non Conformity. If you don’t value your own time, do you expect others to value it? I’m working through Resonate by Nancy Duarte and recommend anyone in business who’s presented or sat through a presentation do the same. She talks about valuing people’s time as a presenter. Making the most of it. I think that includes pretty much everyone. Right?

We have a virtually unlimited number of online communication tools available. But no matter how high tech we get, we’ll never get more time. Or more time back. Medical Science is advancing (much slower than tech) and we may be able to extend our lives by living healthier. But we never know what lies ahead. Which is why time is so valuable.

So if I seem a little protective of my time – know that it’s because I place high value on it. And do the same for yours. If you interact with me, I want you to walk away thinking that was time well spent. Online or in person.

No, that doesn’t mean I’m all business. We humans need levity and laughter to generate innovation and creativity. We get things done by playing once in awhile. That’s why I enjoy people who can laugh at themselves. I take my work very seriously but myself not so much.

So here’s to 2011. Where we all can sort through the clutter to find meaning and engage. That’s what this post is about anyway. Despite the recession I’m excited about the future. I’m insanely curious about learning new things – becoming better at what I do – and sharing what I learn with others like you.

Look for more on this subject over the coming months. Time and value are my hot buttons.  . . . Let’s make the most of it.

Comments

  1. Very compelling post, Patrick. I was busy tweeting on GAP same time as you, but didn’t connect on #UsGuys till later. So glad I did — and I’ve been thinking on many of these same issues.

    You can only tweet in little snippets for so long before wanting something more, especially after connecting with so many people and touching on such a diverse range of ideas. I think as far as we are pushing Twitter, there are certain limitations to the platform too. Bigger ideas require more room to breathe. Going beyond 140 seems to be the next logical step.

    It sounds like you have already had a few good experiences with this. So have I. But after getting to know so many great people online, I still can’t help but wonder: what if we meet in person and find out we really don’t like each other?

    (I predict 2011 will put this fear to rest!)

  2. Nancy Duarte says:

    Hi Patrick,

    Hope you enjoy Resonate! Let me know what you think. Also, when I travel, I reach out to someone I admire on Twitter and have made some of the coolest friends.

    Nancy

  3. Patrick says:

    Nancy – Thanks for reaching out. Resonate is a treasure and fast becoming a constant fixture on my desk – and something I talk about with anyone who’ll listen in our company. I owe Valeria Maltoni a huge thank you for introducing it to me via her blog.

  4. Great insights Patrick. I share your focus for taking things #beyond140 this year. I sincerely hope our paths will cross at some point this year. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know some of our #usguysy friends IRL both in person and via phone. I think the in person time is the best spent.

    And thanks for the referral to Nancy’s book. I’ll be picking up a copy this week for sure. I look forward to her insights.

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