I am fascinated at the new form of virtual trust being cultivated on social media - especially Twitter. As professionals increasingly use social media to broaden the reach their communications and interactions can have - they also (if they are approaching social media strategically) are organically building a network of followers and those they follow.
My own experience may be reflective of what many are seeing as well. I joined Twitter in 2008 largely to explore and seek out new channels of content as a research and discovery resource. I began on common ground - seeking out others on Twitter who were in wealth management and/or technology. As I followed and found interesting citizens of Twitter - I saw many follow me back, curious as to what I had to say.
My primary outgoing tweets were announcements of new blog posts and news items of interest. I am also keen on re-tweeting (circulating others tweets to one's own follower list) valuable bits of information sent to me by my followers.
As the numbers rose for both those following me as well as who I followed - I noticed an interesting result - as some of these followers and I retweeted one another or other Twits who we mutually followed - we also began to have more direct conversations or seek out opinions from each other. Then a step further - with more mini email-esque direct messages (private tweets between two Twits) to have direct conversations.
Before we knew it - then we were sharing email addresses, even phone numbers to have business conversations. Examples include :
This came full circle to the physical world when I attended the Tools for Technology conference this past weekend in San Diego. A number of us who had been conversing virtually on Twitter suddenly found ourselves face to face in the halls of the conference - thrilled to finally meet in real life. Quite honestly it was not like meeting a stranger - it seemed oddly easy to sit down as a group and jump right into conversations we had initiated online.
If nothing else - I hope this helps folks exploring the halls of social media perhaps consider ways to use these powerful new media communications tools for peer networking and conversations if not for participating in more public conversations.