I’m writing this Sunday afternoon as we wrap up WordCamp Milwaukee. Typically, I’d be writing a “Takeaways” style post, but this weekend I was blown away by the power social media has to connect you with your network. The WordCamp Milwaukee after party last night was organized almost exclusively from connections Shelby and I have grown and developed through social media.
How your network grows and matures
A few years ago, I was living and working in the suburbs of Milwaukee (where I still live and work) but was almost completely disconnected with the downtown scene, both socially and professionally. Over these last few years and mostly through social media, I’ve made some great personal friends and some awesome business connections.
Typically it starts with a tweet. Either I notice something you have shared in the social space or you notice something I have said and we reach out to each other. Over time, conversations ensue and before you know it we are calling each other friends and perhaps even running into each other at local social or networking events.
The calls to action (and calls for help)
Sometimes it’s as simple as an invite to a tweetup designed to help a cause either with volunteer work or cash donations. Other times, it’s a fellow local business person who just wants to run an idea by a peer who isn’t a competitor. I’ve been on both sides of those requests and they can be incredibly powerful. Here in Milwaukee (and the Twitterverse as a whole) we are a community who comes together to help each other out.
WordCamp Milwaukee happened only because a few people thought it was time we had our own camp in our hometown. Those folks reached out to the Milwaukee WordPress community (on Twitter, Facebook and via our Meetup group). Almost immediately, a couple dozen folks had committed to help make the event happen.
Throwing a party with and for our friends
Shelby and I got involved in the WordCamp planning when the core group asked for help with an after party. Between us we know a few business owners in the 3rd and 5th wards of Milwaukee who like to support social media communities like WordCamp. We started reaching out and were amazed how willing they were to help out. As a matter of fact, not a single one said no. Now, none of those conversations happened in social media; but almost all the relationships had either started in the social space or grown there after initial face-to-face introductions.
Three years ago, I didn’t know any of these folks. Now I like to think of them as friends and I was so honored to have them help us throw a party for our WordCamp friends, some of whom came from places far away to learn and share. We did Milwaukee proud with the after party that would not have happened without connections intiated and made stronger thanks to social media.