Sunday, November 26, 2006

Get the connection: building your network through blogs

Blogs build your networkAlthough studies abound that purport to show that social isolation is growing and that the Internet may be to blame, don't believe it. Here's one reason why:

Last month I participated in a panel discussion on "Marketing Mediation Excellence", which explored the impact of the internet on marketing. John DeBruyn, a transactional attorney based in Denver, served as moderator, and panelists included bloggers Robert Ambrogi, Gini Nelson, and Geoff Sharp, along with dispute resolution professional Louise Wildee.

What set this apart from other panel discussions I have participated in was that this one was held online. While some of us were in front of a real-world audience, the rest of us participated thanks to the miracle of digital technology, joining the discussion from across the U.S., or, in Geoff's case, from the other side of the world in New Zealand. The same was true of many audience members.

What brought these panelists together? One word: Blogging.

Although I have made many contacts the old-fashioned way—through personal introductions, conference attendance, and committee work--nothing has connected me to the world around me faster or more dramatically than blogging has succeeded in doing.

Blogs bring people together like no conference or convention can. It allows for conversation in a multitude of ways.

Here's one: Publish a post and instantly the whole world hears your message. But this is no one-way conversation--because most blogs permit reader comments, the world can talk back.

Here's another: Another blogger reads your post. Intrigued by the viewpoint or links you shared, he or she riffs on what you've written and links back to you, amplifying the conversation. Suddenly your voice is joined by someone else's. Other bloggers chime in and the chorus of voices grows.

Here's another: Someone discovers your blog. One of your posts has sparked their imagination or triggered questions. They email you to tell you. Or they email you a link to an article they think you'd find interesting. Or they email you just to say hello.

With a little encouragement, these conversations can ultimately give rise to meaningful connections--to collegiality, to inspiration, to collaboration. These connections, as I have happily discovered, can produce discoveries, insights, and, most rewardingly, friendships.

Contrary to popular belief, blogging is not a solitary activity. It is joyfully, boldly public.

You can shout into the canyon and hear your own voice echo back.

But wait and shout again, and you will hear other voices rise in greeting.