I see many people spending an inordinate amount of time talking about how to build relationships online through Twitter, Facebook, etc., which, frankly, is getting immensely boring. What I've been more interested in recently is much more old school: fostering relationships in real life. Now, I'm not talking about attending a networking event, that's way too easy. What I'm talking about is smaller groups of people getting together for coffee, dinner, drinks, etc.
This came up in a conversation I had with local Phoenix artist and photographer, Tyson Crosbie a few weeks ago. He posited that, while getting together in larger groups was fine for many things, it didn't foster the same type of relationships that smaller groups did. Further, he stated that some of the best conversations he'd had were in very small groups. It shouldn't be news to anyone that it's easier for people to bond in smaller groups, right? I tended to agree and started thinking about it more.
New online tools make it easier for us to find people with which we share similar interests and they allow us to communicate with them. Having online friends is becoming the norm... there are many people I've talked with online that I've never met in real life. However, the communication mediums that currently exist online are flawed. For instance, we've probably all experienced how easily the subtleties of human interaction are lost when communicating online. After all, these are just tools; they're not an end, they're a means to an end!
When I do, occasionally, visit meatspace I'm either attending a networking event or some other social gathering. I think there's a desire to be a part of something large because that's often used as a measure of "success". Much like many bureaucracies, the larger things get, the harder it is to accomplish something meaningful. I think making a more personal connection with a small group of people is far more valuable than being one of many in a semi-anonymous crowd.
So, why not challenge yourself this month? Use your tools to gather 3-4 people you don't know well from amongst your diverse network of people and invite them for coffee, sit down for dinner or have a drink at a local bar. Hell, invite them over and cook them dinner, but whatever you do, start creating better relationships. Oh, and if you go out, please go to a local place and not a chain :)
Let us know your experience in the comments!
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