I was in a bad mood last week. I get tired of the over-promotion of social media (e.g. "you must engage in a conversation with your customers and I'm just the guru to help you with that...) as much as the attempt to "leverage" social media from segments of the marketing community (e.g. "can't we just use it as a content channel...") I had also been away from my family for a bit so that might have had something to do with it....

Then I got a much needed reminder from a man I had only known digitally.

Stream Breakfast NYC

Jeff Pulver and I came together to host a Stream Breakfast in NYC via WPP. (Stream is WPP's digital conference and community that culminates in a Yossi Vardi-fueled unconference every Fall). We spoke with about 25 or so marketers within WPP about personal branding. I referred to some of the ways people much craftier than I are managing their digital brand via Facebook, Linked-in, Twitter, their blogs and more. I referenced our own Rohit Bhargava who appears to be intuitive in his ability to breath social media and build his brand (he actually works hard at it). All very practical stuff.

But it was Jeff who reminded me and the others about being real and offering something of yourself to others. He shared some very personal stories quite casually about growing up to use ham radios and his immediate experience with volunteers showing up via a tweet to help with the grunt work of 140conf. His suggestion to the crowd that morning was to be 'real' in whcih I think he meant both be yourself and be generous. There is no reason to build a brand based upon a false sense of who you are.

He listened as much as he spoke. And he offered me a personal insight about being self aware that really made me think. I immediately felt relief. Being real and connecting via social media has opened up my life in ways I cannot describe. I have met people in all parts of the world who I will always think about and hope to connect with again and again.

Jeff gave me a literal and figurative 'hug' when I most needed it.       

Thanks.


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