The significance of attaching a face to a name cannot be forgotten. We get so involved in our interactions on-line we create relationships that are different from those that are “real.” We participate in networks that connect us to people and organisations with shared professions, interests or ideals. We connect with those that have shared backgrounds, experiences, education, or needs. More often now we are so busy that we struggle to find time to keep up, so we focus on our core group. Yet, we must remember the richness in the diversity of our interactions beyond the core and their ability to provide a platform for learning and growing. I am honored to have such a rich diversity in my extended network that continues to fuel my curiosity and growth. Each link began with a face that starts the relationship.

While on my recent trip to New York for meetings of Business and Professional Women International, a face to face network that I am active in (which I will write about next), I connected with several old friends that are friends of mine on a particular on-line network as well. In fact, these were friends that two of the three I had not seen in over 20 years, but had recently reconnected on-line. We had a delightful time catching up on our lives in the “gap period” for ourselves and other shared friends, laughing about our shared memories and talking about our dreams for the future. At the end of our meeting, we realised that they all knew each other, also from many years past through different connections, and two of them were already connected on-line only. Although they all live in the same city, they had never connected. (So of course, being the network obsessed person I was, I had to do so).

In my presentations on best practice for using social media, I often speak of the importance of enhancing an initial face to face contact with on-line interaction to maintain connections. It was reassuring and fun to be reminded of the ability of social media to complement “real” relationships. But this little “experiment” in practice was quite validating for me.