The Importance of Networking on the Internet

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.

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12 replies on “The Importance of Networking on the Internet”
  1. says: Emily

    That is super cool. This sort of thing happens to me every so often. I love that social media really is just another way to create, inspire or sustain real relationships.


  2. Chris Jones: I argue that we do. I think a lot of people forget that there are real people with emotions behind every computer screen. Too many people hide behind a cloak on anonymity.

  3. says: Gabriella

    I enjoyed reading this post. That is awesome, not only did he live in your neighborhood but right above you. lolol WOW that probably will never happen again. My desire to meet everyone I admire and look up to on the Internet has been a slow process. Since I moved away from San Francisco it has been slim picking.

    I don’t mind chatting on skype or yahoo my only fear is meeting the ones that have pushed the envelope into self entitlement. The ones that are so self involved they forget if it wasn’t for our “readership” they wouldn’t be where they are. Basically they start out as humble wonderful thinkers then something happens… I cannot tell you how many times I thought someone really gets it only to go to their website and they still don’t even own their domain. Or they don’t even have any share buttons on their posts. I know the economy has hit a lot of people in different ways but so many “guru’s” are coming out of the woodwork it reminds me of the great influx of “web designers” in the early 90’s.

    Thanks for reminding me to stay the course. Being different and not buying into all the bells and whistles of self love (destruction in some cases) will only harm you in the long run. In conclusion I wrote an article about meeting clients… a little different take since most have been wonderful but every once in a while there is the Ahole in the crowd. I would love to share the link with your readers.

  4. says: Rubab

    Me and my fiance met on Internet in May and got engaged in June and hopefully will get marry in Nov.. we met on StumbleUpon… i agree with Tamar that “online interactions can translate into something incredibly powerful offline.”

  5. says: Marcy

    Ah yes, that sounds all too familiar to me! It’s great that you guys met up – and very coincidental too! I really try to get to know these people who I converse with online. Meet them, if I may. These friendships we build on the internet can go farther than just that – virtual.

    That was a good post! Thanks for sharing.

  6. says: ob81

    This was a wonderful article Tamar. I don’t think that I have been in a situation like that.

    While this story has it’s angles of awesomeness, it saddens me a bit. These days, we live on the internet so much that we sacrafice certain aspects of day-to-day life. I miss the days that I knew everyone that stayed in my building, and the next building over for that matter. In my last apartment, I was there for about 8 months and didn’t know 1 family.

    This article has inspired me to progress relationships with my neighbors when I get back home.

    See you around Tamar!

  7. says: Paul Kaiser

    Wow, what a cool story. It’s also neat how the real-world concept of “circles you run in” works online, too. I had never heard of Jonathan until yesterday, when I zapped him to ask for a MobiPocket or PDF option of his book. I had never heard of you until today. Now I’m reading a few posts and I run in to this one. Just kind of cool.
    Have a great 2010.

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