This post is a little personal in nature, but I’m sure if you read through the end, you’ll enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed telling it. In fact, I’ve been meaning to tell this story for nearly two years.
In the last few years, I’ve taken the liberty of doing more than just blogging — I’ve been trying to get to know the people who have inspired me most (and that list isn’t cumulative!). I don’t necessarily expect to meet with those folks immediately; often, these powerful relationships are formed online, and I then try to learn what I can about the blogger himself/herself and follow up, normally at a conference or industry event. I do my best to put a face to a name — a face that I can see beyond just a digital format.
But sometimes there are surprises in every single meeting.
I decided one day to read more about self-improvement and marketing blogger, Jonathan Fields (and author of Career Renegade). The date was December 12, 2007, and I was excited to hear that Jonathan was a New Yorker like me. According to his blog’s “About” page at the time, you could find him simply by screaming his name in the very large Bryant Park in Manhattan. You know, with 8 million people living in NYC, you’d think this is no big deal, but there’s more to the story.
I dropped him a line. “You live in NY? I didn’t know that,” I said. But I added, “I passed Bryant Park last night on the D train,” noting that I don’t quite live in Manhattan, but rather, the Bronx. Jonathan’s response was still possible, but not necessarily that unexpected: “Me too!” With Bronx being a big borough in NYC, we went more granular. “Too funny,” he responded when I told him we lived in the same neighborhood in the Bronx. And then we found out we live on the same street.
…and in the same apartment complex, one floor above the other.
If that’s fate or irony or whatever, I don’t know, but in my experience of using the Internet for work and pleasure for over 15 years, that is one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me. I’m finally meeting bloggers that I’ve admired for some time in my very own backyard. In a city of 8.3 million.
I once said that social media mimics real life relationships. But take it a step further: your online interactions can translate into something incredibly powerful offline. Nineteen months later, Jon and I are great friends, and we make an effort to meet up every so often.
If nothing else, I hope this story has inspired you to reach out and to value the relationships you forge online. You never know who you’ll meet, and it could form a deep and meaningful friendship that never would have been possible if you don’t make that effort. In the end, the bond between those immersed in the social media sphere is a bond that exists nowhere else.