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Posts tagged ‘Social Media’

Why Just Being Connected Isn’t Enough

Some might say that connection to others is the most important aspect of the service social media provides. While this theory is true in so many ways, it fails to recognize that users tend to benefit the most from the few connections that have personal meaning. Users may be connected to several hundred ‘friends’ but the truth of the matter is that they are online to interact with a much smaller number.

It is nice to be able to see what an old friend is up to, what they are sharing and what interests them, but improved interaction with the people who are closest to us is what keeps us coming back. That is why creating and fostering meaningful  connections with social media is the next obvious step we can take in the evolution of social media.

As they exist now, social networks are excellent tools for connecting people who already know each other, but they do very little to help users meet new friends. Meaningful connections can generally be defined as connections between two people who share a lot in common. Beyond listing your interests, current networks have not given us many opportunities to meet new friends based on those interests. When a person we do not know and have never met tries to friend us, it can sometimes come across as creepy and unwanted. What if that was different?

What if you were able to find a pen pal from another continent? What if you could find fellow musicians interested in forming a band or a conversation partner to practice a foreign language with? What if you could meet a person who had worked on a project similar to one you were working on and could provide you with the insights you needed to do a truly awesome job?

The point is that social media has the ability to connect us with other people who can help us, teach us and inspire us. Why hasn’t that ability been tapped into yet?

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How to Meet People Using Social Media

The path to unite the world starts with building and improving your community, and that begins with creating relationships.  And step one of creating relationships is meeting people.  Unfortunately, becoming Facebook friends or Twitter followers doesn’t count.  You’re going to actually have to meet face-to-face at some point to consider it a relationship.  It may not be super-difficult to meet new people in a place you’ve lived for a long time, but it’s really hard to meet people in a completely new place. After doing a brief stint in Colorado and now as a recent transplant to the Lone Star state, I can testify to this.

I’m not bad at meeting people, and I was always pretty good at ice-breakers, but I’m not Ryan Gosling.  Unfortunately I’ve realized that this means I can’t just dress nice, stand at the bar alone, and tell people they’re the perfect combination of sexy and cute and expect them to start talking to me.  And I’ve learned that that’s an even worse approach to finding a drinking buddy.

Before your brain glazes over at the thought of reading another ‘here’s how to meet people’ article, this is not going to talk about the personal traits and approach you need to take.  There aren’t going to be pickup lines.  This is just a couple points about why social media has made it easier to meet people in the ‘real world,’ how it will continue to get better, and a couple tips on where to start.  You’re going to have to do the actual meeting yourself.

Meetig People Online

"We both have computers that we can stick our hand's out of and we're both still inside of our houses! We're going to be best friends."

  1. Finding Groups Online

Most organizations and groups that are open to the public list their events and meetings online.  Now with social media you don’t need to scour the internet because of sites like Meetup, (and soon to include OurPangea) which are one way to find out what’s going on around you.

The best part about this?  Everyone is there to meet people.  So you don’t need to go somewhere by yourself and try to strike up a conversation with the people eating dinner next to you, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  At these meetings you have an excuse to initiate a random conversation with whomever and not feel uncomfortable or forced.  Whether you’re a college frosh moving to a new city for school, a traveler, or just a new permanent resident, social media has taken great strides in making it easy to meet new people.

However, we haven’t perfected this type of website yet and there are some features that really bug me about sites like Meetup, most importantly, there’s nothing to do on the sites themselves.  They are a terrific way to find people to meet offline, but there’s nothing really engaging to make me want to explore.  For example the profiles are basically non-existent, so to find out more about the people going you would need to start approaching creepy-stalker mode.  This is one of the improvements we will make with OurPangea so you can see everything you need to know about the event and the people going in one place.

But until launch, Meetup is the most prominent and widely used non-dating site for finding and connecting with people offline.  Other interesting options are Zoodango, PeopleJar, and Airtroductions (if you’re flying, you can find out about the other people that will be on the plane with you).

2.     Get to Know People Ahead of Time

Googling someone before you meet them has become a dating staple, but there’s really no reason not to try to learn a little bit about anyone before you meet them for the first time.  All of the different social media outlets that are accessible just by looking someone up pretty much guarantee that anyone you’re meeting already knows your full name, your past job history, who you’re in an open relationship with on Facebook, and if you’re actually funny or just try to be.

The point is, with social media there’s no dearth of information out there to help you get prepared and in the zone to start up a conversation right and create a new friendship that can lead to something great.

These are just a few quick notes to get you started.  Over the next few months we’ll illustrate how OurPangea will help to fulfill the entire process of community improvement, from making meaningful personal connections, creating groups, and making a real difference as an individual or an organization.

Happy meeting!

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