Have you experienced this phenomenon? This exciting, yet weird moment when you finally meet people in real-life that you have only seen online? Suddenly your brain must build a new reality because your online picture is supposed to translate into a real offline relationship. It can feel like a picture puzzle where you are asked to find a single item in a large detailed picture and your brain is trying very hard to make sense of what it is seeing and searching for. I am sure some of you have had similar experiences and this is one of the magical things social media can do: bring people together, even from all over the world, to meet online and offline and share common interests, goals, and inspiration
This wonderful and thrilling experience was part of a family vacation I had planned for this summer. The trip took me from Raesfeld-Erle, a small town of approximately 3500 people in Germany to Minnesota, United States of America, specifically the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. An exciting trip itself with car and train rides and an eight-and-a-half-hour flight plus border control to get into the United States of America. The vacation from my work as a freelancer, coach and trainer finally gave me the opportunity to reunite with my former professor, mentor, and as I am very happy to call her, my friend, Dr. Amy Jauman of the National Institute for Social Media. And Amy wouldn’t be herself if she hadn’t organized for me to meet the NISM team in their wonderful office in Crystal, Minnesota.
Of course, a trip across the great blue ocean needs some preparation. Luckily, Amy took care of organizing our meeting and getting the team onboard for my visit. That only left me with one chore: getting some real German caramels lined up to take with me! One lesson my wonderful mother taught me over the years of travelling and living in different cities in different countries: You always bring a little something when you are invited! And, thanks to Instagram, I just happened to know that German caramels were the way to go! Lesson learned: Social media does not only mean making interesting connections and maintaining relationships over a long distance or time, but can also be a great source for gift giving ideas!
I had briefly met Jennifer Radke, CEO in a marketing class at St. Catherine University during a semester abroad. However, back then the team as it stands today was not in place yet. So, after many tweets, e-mails, and Facebook encounters, finally the time came to talk in person to not only Jennifer Radke, but also to Teri Kojetin, Administrative Services Manager. And what a pleasure it was! We kicked off our meeting by exchanging traveling stories – nowadays they feel like the war stories of professionals from all over the world. Whoever travels, for pleasure or work, usually has some great stories to share of plane rides and rental cars. Not to mention jetlag for international travelers! But not only travelling is a shared topic of interest for Jennifer Radke, Amy Jauman and myself, of course the combining factor, among others, is the work in and love for everything social media. So, what better group and occasion could there have been to talk about similarities and differences in social media use between our countries, the way social media is perceived internationally, and what opportunities there are for working in and with social media in Germany. We did not quite solve all political issues between our two great nations – but on the social media front we sure are working on it!
In all seriousness, the meeting was a great first look at what brings people together on social media, at opportunities that might arise from working internationally, and which combining factors can work towards partnerships in and around social media. It will be interesting for both sides to continue to grow and foster these wonderful connections online and offline
After a fun and inspiring lunch together, it was time to say our goodbyes, but only for a while! Because we know we are only one Tweet, Facebook post, or Instagram picture away!
Author: Magdalena Schürmann
Her passion for organization and solving problems benefits Magdalena’s work as a freelancer, consultant and in coaching private clients as well as small businesses in diverse areas connected to work life – from job changes to social media marketing. In her business ArbeitsLeben Magdalena often helps clients to focus on satisfactory work settings and personal and professional development. Her goal is to educate, to encourage, and to empower her clients.