TOO MANY Friends?

“Do you really know ALL of your facebook friends? There’s NO WAY you have actually met all of those people!”

These are statements I hear often, and it’s understandable considering the fact that I have thousands of facebook & twitter connections. The comments come in many variations, but they are all implying the same thing… those thousands of friends? They aren’t REAL friends….

At first I felt guilty for having so many friends, and would have a hard time answering that question. But then, the revelation came. After being asked that question while on a recent road trip, my friend (and co-pilot) Rob Harter reminded me to look at the glass as ‘half full’. My response then became clear: “No, I haven’t met all of them personally… but imagine what a party it would be if I did!” Can you imagine what it would be like to have that many genuine friends? Or better yet, to have them all in the same place at the same time, celebrating our friendship?

And so began the experiment…

I decided to interact with my online friends in a way that I hadn’t attempted before. I sent an update to facebook & twitter accounts via text message, encouraging everyone to communicate with me while I traveled on the road trip. There was a problem though, I wasn’t online while I was driving across the country…
You Gave Out Your Cell Phone On Twitter???

Yes, I started posting my cell phone to facebook and twitter, encouraging people to get in touch with me. Honestly, it didn’t even cross my mind that it wasn’t ‘safe’…after all, these were my friends! And then, something happened, the responses came – FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD! (Canada, USA, Mexico, UK, Indonesia, etc) From people sharing directions when we were lost, to people sending funny jokes or words of encouragement while I was drowsy behind the wheel, there was a community effort and an outpouring of love like I hadn’t felt before.

But The Real Power Was Still To Come!

What I love about Social Media is that it is a steady evolution toward real relationships. Many have argued that technology distances us, but I am optimistic and extremely confident that the evolution of “Web 2.0” is leading us toward creating genuine, authentic and in-person relationships. In fact, I know it…it’s what I experienced.

In a short trip to Toronto, I made more genuine friends than I could have ever imagined. A few highlights include:

* Melissa, the ‘random’ friend that showed up at a London, Ontario Starbucks while I was checking my email… (Thanks for the tip!)
* Super Spiritual Girl, a twitter hero of mine! (Follow her for amazing insights and an exciting upcoming announcement) www.twitter.com/superspiritgirl
* Veronica, the angel of a woman who created the video that I have watched near-daily for over a year. (Watch it on my blog www.budurl.com/iamfree if you haven’t already!) www.redefiningthedream.com
* Cheri Najor, one of the most powerful professional speakers that I have ever witnessed in human form. In a simple bagel store, I was moved emotionally listening to her absolute passion for life and immense love for her son. :) (see www.kreativnrg.com)
* Many, many, more… (Sorry I didn’t mention you all, You’ll be in future posts!)

The interesting thing about all of these people, though, is that we had connected online – through social media – and had never met in person. In fact, when we first made the online connection, I doubt that any of us imagined that we would ever meet, or even become great friends!

Now, I have a whole new perspective on life because of my new friends. They have all taught me something that I will carry with me forever.

I also have a new perspective on the internet, social media, and ‘web 2.0’. It isn’t just a fancy way to waste time or a powerful way to make money…it’s a way to promote peace, love and happiness.

What Now?

I am finishing up a book on the power of Social Media, and will use this road trip as a case study. I will include dozens of stories that I couldn’t include here. I will share more on the principles embodied in the social media revolution that will transform the way that businesses operate, and more importantly how we interact with each other as human beings.

I am also doing ANOTHER Social Media Adventure trip... for the entire summer of 2009. Check out www.SocialMediaAdventure.com for details!

Author's Bio: 

As one of the foremost experts in building genuine relationships through the Internet, Joseph has recently launched two new ventures that explore the power of social media and how it's redefining our personal relationships and the way we do business. The first is www.GenuineSocialMedia.com, an innovative and powerful 12-week coaching program to teach businesses how to establish their brand and engage their customers online. He's also chronicling a never-been-done, real-life experiment into the power of social media at www.SocialMediaAdventure.com.

Joseph travels the world teaching others how to change their paradigms about making a profit in the business world. "It's no longer about using the Internet to make the hard sell," says Joseph. "Web 2.0 allows us the relationship-based approach to doing business, giving us new ways to connect with our customers to build long-lasting, profitable relationships."