I’m an introvert. One of the things that means is that I’m not a big fan of meeting new people. I can do it if I have to, but I always prefer not to. Even meeting people I know can be hard work sometimes and I don’t always look forward to it. I’m only really comfortable with just a few people I know very well, and building that sort of relationship takes a while. My first SAP TechEd was in Amsterdam in 2006. I went knowing nobody, wandered from session to session by myself, and headed back to my hotel afterwards for a quiet evening by myself. The technical content was great, but the social experience was non-existent.

Enter social media. I signed up for Twitter at the start of 2008. I followed a few people, tweeted a few things, saw no value in it and abandoned it. Later in the year I attended an event in Helsinki with a load of people I didn’t know. Cue TechEd all over again. Except that I noticed something in the other people attending the event. Most of them hadn’t met each other in person before either, and yet they seemed to know each other very well. In the evenings they all went off in different directions exploring the Helsinki night life, and yet over breakfast they all knew what each other had been up to. They were all connected via Twitter. That encouraged me to give it another go. I started small, following a couple of people I’d met in Helsinki and finding a few people where I worked. Because there were existing real-life connections interacting on Twitter was easier. And by watching who these people were interacting with I was able to make new connections. I find interacting with new people on Twitter much easier than in real life, primarily because there’s no time pressure. Responses don’t have to be in real time. My introverted self can go away and contemplate for a while without making the interactions awkward. And yet, tweet by tweet I do start to get to know people this way. It might take longer than it would with in-person interactions, but it does happen.

Fast forward TechEd Madrid in 2011 and the experience was completely different. While I travelled there with somebody I’d met once or twice, there was nobody else there that I’d met before. But there were a whole lot of people I knew because I’d conversed with them on Twitter and via SCN over the previous few years. I was meeting them in person for the first time and I was actively looking forward to it. Imagine that – looking forward to meeting new people! But these weren’t new people. Many of them were already friends. Whenever I was taking a break between sessions there were people I could sit and have a coffee with. While queueing for sessions I would bump into people I could chat to. Even some of the speakers came up to me afterwards and said hello. And all thanks to social media. TechEd is a much better even if you can share it rather than experience it alone.

And outside of the world of SAP, of course the same thing can happen. There are people where I work that I’ve only met in person due to initial contacts via social media. There are people who live close to me who I’ve first met the same way. There are some I’ve still not met in person. I’ve had help and been able to help others due to social media connections. My band of twitter friends are a genuine community.

We spend a lot of time here in this forum discussing social media as a business tool, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t lose sight of the personal benefits it can bring. It is worth the investment. At least, it has been for me.

What has your social media journey been like?

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16 Comments

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  1. Akshay Gupta

    Hi Steve,

    I totally fit in your Introvert Category and yes I feel embarrassed that I signed up for twitter few years back and then got totally disinterested and quit.

    But since signing up on SCN, what I see that most of the members have been active of Twitter and I gave it a thought.. Hmmmmm.. So what should I be doing?

    I should sign up for twitter again, and if I cannot engage that much actively on all the tweet activities, I could still connect with people whom I follow on SCN.

    I will sign up this weekend, without any due procrastination and may be I will follow you the first thing after signing up 😏

    Regards,

    Akshay.

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    1. Steve Rumsby Post author

      I am immensely glad I gave Twitter a second chance. It has really made a huge difference to me. If you give it another go, just take it slowly. Don’t follow too many people too soon, or you’ll be overwhelmed and that will put you off again. If there are people on Twitter that you also know in person that might help. Just watch to start with. Don’t feel you need to join in straight away, Wait until there’s a conversation you feel comfortable with. Don’t be afraid to unfollow people if they don’t post stuff that interests you.

      Many of the folk here on SCN are also on Twitter. They will probably have listed their twitter ID on their SCN profile. Pick a few and see how it goes – most of them are friendly:-) You can find me as @steverumsby.

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  2. Susan Keohan

    Hi Steve,

    As someone who enjoys following you on Twitter (how did I even start?  What brought you to my attention?  I don’t know!) I am very grateful that you gave it another chance.  And that you have found it so rewarding.

    I am probably in a different category – I love to meet people and actively seek it out.  But there aren’t enough real-life events, so meeting people on Twitter and SCN feeds the need.  I can laugh, learn, and sometimes event vent a little bit (see below).  I get a much-needed outlet for my social needs.

    Thank you for sharing you journey!

    Sue

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    1. Steve Rumsby Post author

      You are one of those people I’m very glad I “met” first on Twitter, because if I met you first in person I’d just want to run away. Meeting new people is hard. Meeting new extroverts is terrifying:-) But now I’m looking forward to our mentorbuddy Google hangout tomorrow and should I ever get to a Sapphire or US TechEd you’ll be at the top of my list of people to meet. That’s Twitter at work, and that’s why I’m so enthusiastic about it and why I encourage as many people as I can to give it a chance.

      As to how we first “met”, I have no idea either! I tend to only follow people after they follow me (no surprise there) so I’m guessing you found me first. My gmail archive tells me you followed me in Feb 2010 (no, I don’t delete emails, not even twitter follow notifications), not that I imagine that helps much… 🙂

      Steve.

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      1. Susan Keohan

        Hi Steve,

        I’d like to think that I wouldn’t have scared you away – that we would have run into each other in a nice quiet corner and had a coffee (or tea?) and so on.  It must have been your astronomy tweets that drew me in. 

        As for getting you to an ASUG conference or TechEd, well, we can always hope.

        Cheers!

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    2. Chris Paine

      To go further – it is also possible to embed tweets directly here in SCN – Well it is within blog posts anyway – not so much in the comments it seems 🙁

      >editing – seemed it didn’t work in the comment section 🙁

      preserves the links and all that jazz too 🙂

      PS – nice post Steve!

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      1. Susan Keohan

        Hi Chris,

        I’ve learned how to get Tweets from other folks (that twitter.com/name/status/number thingy) but struggled with getting to my own!  Ack.

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  3. Jim Spath

    Steve – as you alluded, we’ve chatted quite a bit, yet have never met except telepathically, I mean via teleconference.

    James Governor introduced me to twitter at an SAP TechEd several years ago (I think that was the 1 and only time I’ve been to Las Vegas).  Funny enough, he doesn’t use SCN because he dislikes the rules of engagement (read: who owns your stuff).

    http://scn.sap.com/tags/#/?tags=mentorbuddy once removed.

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  4. Chip Rodgers

    Hi Steve,

    Thank you for sharing your story!  I hadn’t even thought of that aspect of social media, but you’re right on target.  Being at live events like TechEd or Inside Tracks, etc is so much more interesting and engaging these days!  When you walk around, you see so many familiar faces of people that you *know* from following, connecting, engaging with on Twitter or in the community.

    And here you are 5 years later and recently recognized as Member of the Month!  Wow, that really is an amazing and inspiring story!

    I’m looking forward to seeing you at the next TechEd (Amsterdam?) and we’ll get to meet, have a coffee, and catch up like “old friends”.  😉

    Chip

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  5. Carsten Nitschke

    Hi Steve,

    I think it would be almost worth a quick study of how many people have given Twitter a 2nd chance. I am clearly one of them. I found my way back to twitter in 2011. It has been a great journey ever since then and I met some amazing people on twitter (you are definately one of them). SCN came to me newer to the game and I have to admit that I am still trying to get used to it a bit better. Maybe I am a strange user but I have quite often a hard time to navigate and find things but… hey we have a platform to communicate and that is the key.

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    1. Steve Rumsby Post author

      I hope I’ve persuaded you to give Twitter another go. I know it isn’t for everyone, but it can take a little longer than people expect to see the benefits and so they give up too early. After a second attempt you may still decide it isn’t for you, but maybe, like me, you’ll find a community out there waiting for you to join them:-)

      Steve.

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  6. Tim Guest

    I remember meeting you at TechEd Madrid 2011 after “meeting” on Twitter. I like your points and agree about what Social Media has done for everyone. Linked In and Twitter make conferences so much more interactive and it is much easier to meet up with Twitter followers than just a cold meeting with a stranger.

    I’m looking forward to hanging with you in Amsterdam then UKISUG!

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