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I’m All a-Twitter Over Social Networking

January 8th, 2009

I always start the New Year with some gut-busting resolution. Usually, to lose 10 pounds.

Not this year, though. Instead, I’ve resolved to gain 1,000 friends. I’ve made the big move and started social networking.

For those who have never linked in, Twittered or nudged a friend, I don’t mean regular old networking. We’re not talking cocktails and business cards here.

I’m going to make these thousand friends online in my jammies, in my spare time, by signing up on all the free social networking sites that will connect me online with former neighbors, coworkers and check-out clerks.

I am motivated to connect, link and Twitter in 2009 because I have a book coming out this year.

“In that case,” my marketing-saavy friends say, “you absolutely must network online.”

To coax me into cyber-socializing, my friend Lora sent an email inviting me to “connect” with her on LinkedIn. The invite seemed a little silly since we connect most every month at a writers group.

But the last time I resisted one of Lora’s nudges – that I put together some sort of book based on my columns – she organized one of those interventions normally reserved for addicts of alcohol and crack cocaine.

“We are concerned about you,” she crooned, and went on to speculate about what sort of blocks might be in the way of one who was always talking about writing a book but never did.

Quickly, before she could analyze my aversion to social networking, I accepted her invitation to link. Then I realized with horror that I needed to post some sort of profile of myself and my interests and even report what I was doing at that very moment (trying to figure out how to post the profile).

I owed it to her. After all, she was only trying to help and without my profile out there, she would have connected with a contact who was of very little use to the other contacts in her network (numbering 58 at this writing), who might at that moment be scouring LinkedIn for star-quality people she knew.

There they would be, out looking for someone who might be helpful to them in pursuing their interests (getting a job? making a business deal?). And there I would be: a cyber wallflower with no picture, no reported interests, and no interesting contacts of my own with whom they could connect via Lora, via me.

In an effort to help these unknown would-be connectors pursue whatever they were pursuing – and especially to avoid another intervention – I posted my picture, recited my checkered past, and announced I was working on the intervention-inspired book.

Since I linked in, no one has been safe from my friendship. With a zeal I have not known since selling 226 boxes of Thin Mints for a Juliette Gordon Lowe T-shirt, I’ve obsessively scoured my social landscape, sent out invitations and nervously awaited responses. Odd behavior, my husband’s noticed, for someone writing a book about life balance.

As I’ve waited, other invitations have started pouring in like magic from services like Reunion.com and Plaxo and Facebook and Twitter, all of which I’ve accepted with gratitude and the dread of writing another profile.

A couple of people I don’t know have messaged me that they are following my “tweets,” which Twitter says are short (up to 140 characters) alerts I’ve sent to contacts about what I’m doing at that moment. Only I’m not sending tweets. To my knowledge.

Unfortunately, I’m only up to 38 of the envisioned 1,000 connections but accepting all invitations. My contact Kari has 215, but she was a cheerleader. I was just in Latin Club. And hey, it’s only January.

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