|The Meeting of Pinke Post and Peace Garden Writer|
Meet my new friend, Katie Pinke, a fellow North Dakota wife and mother, prairie blogger and faith-seeker. Katie is my #1 reason why blogging isn't a waste of time.
Let me explain. Recently, another writer friend who works very hard as a full-time communications professional challenged me about the time I spend blogging. She wondered whether it isn't a waste of time and if I'm giving up other valuable work to keep up with my blogs. My response was swift and certain, but I reflected on it more later and realized my longer answer is worthy of a post -- or even a series of posts on the value of social networking.
During my three years dabbling in blogging and other social media, I've come to realize that the top myths of social networking are held by those who, quite simply, have never given it a try. Until you step into the channel, it's very difficult to understand the value of social networking. It's quite possible that if you haven't stepped into the channel, you either truly don't need social networking, or you're missing out on some wonderful opportunities. I'm not going to make a judgment call here because everyone who uses social networking has a slightly different life and varying motivational factors to do so (or not). I just know that for me, social networking has been much more blessing than curse.
Here's why Katie gets the top spot. To put it plainly, Katie is real (yes, she's as beautiful in person as she looks here, both inside and out, not to mention much taller -- she was bending down for my benefit). Even though we met through a computer, she's a living, breathing human being with a beautiful soul, tons of energy and a great outlook on life.
Without social networking, I likely never would have met Katie. We met on Twitter several months back. Turned out she was a fan of my children's alphabet book about North Dakota, P is for Peace Garden. After that first encounter, we would bump into each other in a virtual way every once in a while, and then last week, when she was in town for a presentation, we had the chance to meet for lunch. We started and ended with a hug and made it very difficult for our poor waiter to get a word in edgewise (he tried valiantly).
Another way to say this is: It's all about relationships. In other words, if you don't really want to meet new people and make new connections, do not, I repeat, do not dare try social networking!
I realize not everyone wants or needs to meet more people. Maybe you're an introvert. Maybe you have a nice collection of friends already and feel you're circle is plenty wide. Maybe you're just too busy to nurture new relationships. Again, we all approach the whole social-networking thing with different circumstances.
As for me, I have a wonderful group of in-real-life friends so wasn't necessarily looking to increase those numbers. But here's the bottom line: I'm a freelance writer. I often work in isolation. Blogging in particular allows me the chance to connect with like-minded people, as well as some who are not as like-minded. It increases my awareness of who is in the world, and brings me in closer contact to those with whom connecting might be to our mutual benefit.
As a freelance writer, I don't have a chance to mill about the water cooler. This is my water cooler. The blogging world, along with Facebook and Twitter, are my virtual office hang-out spots, and every bit as valuable to me as those places are to those who work in an office 9-5.
I had no expectations regarding my meeting Katie other than she seemed like a lovely person from her blog and Tweets, and I always think it's nice to reach through the computer screen and find the real person on the other side whenever possible. But by the end of our time together, Katie had shared a dream with me, and it's one that could include someone like me. We were still talking about this dream and how we might contribute to it on our way out to the parking lot. What a thrill. And all from a meeting on Twitter!
Someday, I truly believe Katie and I are going to merge some of the strengths, skills and ideas and present something fabulous to the world, or at least to our region. She has a great idea and I'm on board just as soon as we can figure out how to implement it and still maintain control of our busy lives as modern-day mothers of (collectively) eight children.
All this to say, really, honestly, it's not a waste of time.
Social networking starts with the click of a computer mouse, and before we know it, something has taken place -- something real beyond what we ever could have imagined. Yes, there are always the negatives -- the time-gobbling factor and potential for misunderstandings in mainly dealing with online communication, not to mention online predators. The key is to have your wits about you, and find the balance between virtual and in-real-life. When the real-life part enters in in a positive way, the world can open up anew.
To read more of Katie's posts from The Plains, go to PinkePoste blog.
Q4U: When has the world of social networking surprised you, and how?