In 140 characters, I reached out and let someone know that I valued their ideas and wanted to hear more from them. That's powerful, no? The beauty of social media isn't that companies can get you to "like" them on Facebook so that you can get access to exclusive coupons. The beauty of social media is that one person, with one idea, can reach millions of people and start a meaningful discussion. It means that I can tell one little boy's story and influence researchers, doctors, families with children with autism, and sometimes just people who find joy in appreciating the small things. Or maybe reading about Max helps someone know that they aren't alone in this journey. I may never know that my writing about Max has made a difference in someone's life. The only thing I can be sure if is that writing about Max has made a difference in my life. Either way, I figure everybody wins.
As I expand my network, be it through Facebook, Twitter, conferences or real life, I make a conscious decision about who I am going to build relationships with - who I am going to "let in". Of course, the opposite is true as well -- when people meet me, they will decide if I am worthy of building a relationship with. Yesterday was a terrific reminder of how we can all use social media to make a profound difference in our world and how we can make meaningful connections so long as we manage our influence over those we reach, responsibly. Never forget, as Jeff Pulver so eloquently said in his opening address "We're living in a time where 100s of millions can find each other from one single idea, one single voice". Here, here!