Monday, September 14, 2009

Don't Just Sit On The Virtual Sidelines When It Comes To Helping

I first noticed a request from someone I follow but don't know all that well when she posted it on Twitter. It seems she was looking for a very specific set of skills for a project she was working on for her company and had apparently run the gamut of her connections. I clicked on her most recent Tweets and could see a string of frustrated posts about dropped balls, unreliable people and a pressing deadline that was looming. With each Tweet her desperate plight seemed to be more and more magnified as she desperately looked for someone to help her out.

It would have been easy to say to myself...Whew I'm glad that's not me. I've been there sister and man finding good people to do the jobs they say they will can be frustrating. Hmmm I wonder what's going on with my other friends on Twitter and proceed to click away from her and her problems never to think of them again.

It was clear by her cries for help that few if any of her 300+ followers on Twitter were doing anything to really help her. In fact the responses I read ranged anywhere from "man that sucks!" to "you're screwed" to "at least it's Friday...the good news is you won't have to worry about this until Monday." Yeah like I'm that was the reassurance she was looking for...NOT!

Have we as a society become so disengaged that mere connection through online social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook give us permission to poke fun and be sarcastic about someone's problem? It sure seems like it. What spoke even louder was the fact that she only received a handful of tepid responses to her pleas for help. Where were the people who followed her and why wasn't someone offering her more than sarcastic commentary to help her?

To be clear I don't know this women well. In fact I only started following her because she had followed me. Even though we have never met personally I have enjoyed exchanging some Tweets with her over the past few months. She's always been responsive, helpful and friendly when we have engaged one another online. I like her and clearly I could see and feel her pain.

As luck would have it I knew exactly the person she needed to engage regarding her project. I immediately direct messaged (DM'd her for those Twitter purists) her and asked her permission to connect her and my colleague for an exploratory conversation. She pinged me back almost immediately with a "OMG YES! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!"

I didn't need to help though but it's my nature to be helpful when and where I can. I could have come up with my own quippy response to her plight to outwit the clearly dimwitted but that wouldn't help her (and then I would have joined the rank of the woefully dimwitted). I might have easily missed the Tweet she posted as there is literally so much noise on Twitter that it's easy to do. I happen to believe things work out the way they are supposed to - hence it was in the cards that day for me to see what was going on and decide to dig deeper and help if I could. There were a lot of ways this situation could have gone down but it worked out for her and my colleague to work together in the end.

The point in all of this...and I do have one by the way is....If you are going to spend time making friends online, developing virtual connections and engaging strangers from around the world, you have a responsibility. You just can't passively sit on the virtual sidelines when someone is in need; much less make fun of them or their situation. You are responsible for keeping your eyes and ears peeled to help them when and where you can. You have to be willing to put yourself out there to offer up suggestions, ideas and your own connections if you truly want to make and grow your online relationships beyond simple avatars and cute profile pictures.

Just because the people in your followers or friends list are virtual it does not mean your commitment and dedication to Rippling when and where you can for them doesn't have to be.

Think about it and as always....

Ripple On!!!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Steve- great post!...


I saw you at the ABJ breakfast this morning & was happy to get to my computer & see this post & apply it to what you talked about today. I think that's one of the fears I have about the "clutter" you mentioned; that I'll grow so engrossed in what others are doing or needing that I'll neglect what I should be doing myself! I guess it's all about balance & I am motivated by you & Tom to take that first step to start cultivating my virtual network.

You mentioned you would like to meet for coffee sometime; I would love that. I'll try the "new" technology to get access to your business card & send you an email :)