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Fear: It's Not Sociable

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When we read what people write -- on blogs, in newspaper editorials, etc., it's easy to take for granted our knowledge of that person and the concept of a shared experience. The truth is, though, that it is an interaction that often takes place only in our own minds, and as wonderful as the Internet is and is becoming at bringing people together from vast distances, nothing compares to meeting face to face.



I always am a little amused when people express shock that relationships can be built and can thrive completely online. After all, I have been meeting people I previously knew only online as far back as 1996 -- long before Match.com or any of these other social sites sprung up explicitly to bring people together and keep them in touch. Of course, once tI got to New York City to take part in Blogger Social '08, I was quick to discover that, as is usually the case, I didn't know half as much as I thought I did.


Because I'd done it before, when CK and Drew conceived and pitched the idea of Blogger Social, I was on familiar ground. Stand toe-to-toe with people I chat with all the time? Sure. It's the only natural next thing to do.


I didn't expect it would draw in people all the way from Australia and Belgium.


I also didn't expect the event to be put together so well that what was presumably so familiar would be so new and rich to me.


Cam Beck is Ann handley's favorite readerWhen we read what people write -- on blogs, in newspaper editorials, etc., it's easy to take for granted our knowledge of that person and the concept of a shared experience. The truth is, though, that it is an interaction that often takes place only in our own minds, and as wonderful as the Internet is and is becoming at bringing people together from vast distances, nothing compares to meeting face to face.



And an open bar.


Here's the point. The heart of social interaction is participation, and the root of participation is will. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that, and I hope that, if you hesitate in joining the conversation, you find it in yourself to overcome any fear you may have.


bloggersocial.jpg

The world is, as CK said, getting smaller, and at long last we are starting to act like it.


All I can tell you is this: If you've read these articles on MPDailyFix or on various blogs and you've enjoyed them but haven't joined the conversation, you're not only missing out on a great opportunity to meet and know wonderful people, but you're depriving them of the chance to meet and be enriched by you, too.


You never know what may come of it.  We'd love to talk to you.


Photo credit of Luc Debaisieux and Arun Rajagopal to CK.

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As the youngest member of his family, Cam Beck decided to put college on hold long enough to join his brothers and father in the Marine Corps. After training as a basic rifleman and an electronics technician, Cam was released from active duty in 1993 and has been working in the civilian workforce ever since - never holding fewer than two jobs and/or businesses at once for long. While taming his learned nomadic tendencies, he finally finished undergraduate school in 2004.

Paying homage to his military roots, Cam cut his teeth on Internet marketing with the launch of OO-RAH.com in 1997, hoping to capture and explain the essence of what makes the Marine Corps such a tight-knit organization. It was through this experience of serving those he admired that Cam came to develop his philosophy for good business:

  1. In order to deliver effective customer service, you must first become a servant to your customers.
  2. To become an effective servant to your customers, you must first admire and respect them.
  3. Respect for others requires you put their needs before your own.
  4. Every experience is a learning opportunity.


These maxims have served as the basis for Cam’s philosophy of user-centered design as an experience planner for Click Here, Inc., where Cam focuses on the disciplines of information architecture, usability, and strategy for Click Here’s clients.

Cam lives in Grand Prairie, Texas with his family and dogs. When he’s not changing diapers, cleaning up other messes, blogging, or dreaming, he’s volunteering for and participating in his son’s Boy Scout troop.

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  • by Paul Barsch Wed Apr 16, 2008 via blog

    Cam, I've had people reach out to me privately through email who haven't left comments on my blog. I often ask them, "I appreciate the outreach, but why didn't you want to leave this same comment on the blog instead of emailing me?" The feedback is either fear that comments on the internet "live forever" or that they thought they really didn't have anything substantial to say and didn't want to chime in. Of course, the reader did have something important to say and could have contributed to the conversation. I liked this post and I'd encourage readers to post comments on blogs, challenge us, and join the conversation. It's 99.9% of the time a richer experience when everyone contributes!

  • by MrAchievement.com (Stanley Bronstein) Wed Apr 16, 2008 via blog

    I found my wife through an internet relationship (and that was 8 years ago). In this day and age, using the internet and social networks is a normal way to meet people. Often, successful relationships and friendships get their start that way and they then either stay virtual (internet based), or they move into the physical world. Either way is quite normal. Stanley F. Bronstein MrAchievement Attorney, CPA, Author & Professional Motivational Speaker

  • by Dusan Wed Apr 16, 2008 via blog

    Because of that fear I'm always assuming that bloggers and "commenters" are a specific, very open group of people. And that's why it is such a hard channel to really include into marketing strategies properly. What percentage of CEO's of big companies are ready to actually have a conversation on blogs?

  • by Cam Beck Wed Apr 16, 2008 via blog

    Paul - I'm very anxious to meet and interact with people who love and hate what I write. You can't buy that kind of feedback.

  • by Cam Beck Wed Apr 16, 2008 via blog

    Stanley - Thank you. I'd say the gold standard isn't normalcy, anyway, but is instead mutual value exchange. I'm sure both you and your wife both are both improved from your marriage. Likewise with blogging/commenting.

  • by Cam Beck Wed Apr 16, 2008 via blog

    Dusan - CEOs of large companies are a tough bunch to pin down. They're understandably busy, and blogging in general takes discipline and hard work, without much of a promise of a return. Starting out from nothing, it's pretty easy to have a conversation; it took months before I got my first comment. And it took me even longer to figure out what to do with them. If someone like Steve Jobs started a blog, he'd have 200 comments by tomorrow. Much more difficult to respond individually.

  • by Ann Handley Wed Apr 16, 2008 via blog

    Cam -- I love that included those who "hate" what you write. That's why you are so great.

  • by mack collier Wed Apr 16, 2008 via blog

    Cam that's a great pic of you and Ann! "Here's the point. The heart of social interaction is participation, and the root of participation is will. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that, and I hope that, if you hesitate in joining the conversation, you find it in yourself to overcome any fear you may have." Well said my friend.

  • by Cam Beck Wed Apr 16, 2008 via blog

    Ann - There's nothing quite like iron to sharpen iron. :)

  • by Cam Beck Wed Apr 16, 2008 via blog

    Mack - Thanks! Of course, Ann makes the pic. I make it a habit to get my picture taken with people who can carry it. Lord knows I'm not up for it alone. :)

  • by Luc Debaisieux Thu Apr 17, 2008 via blog

    Cam - Wow! "... the root of participation is will". The potential of the idea behind these words is huge. Although fear is very human, the first step has always been the most difficult. Hopefully there are many proofs that it is often worth it. I am thankful that so many "simply did it" and attended to BS08. SO much to learn and share from a simple action. Time (spend sharing ideas online) and distance (from all over the world)... give to this story a whole new dimension.

  • by Arun Rajagopal Thu Apr 17, 2008 via blog

    The idea "The heart of social interaction is participation, and the root of participation is will." personally sums up my experience with social media since January 2007, when I started writing my blog. Beginning with a series of travel memoirs, my blogging has led me to be a part of a very active social media community and made me a better person, both personally and professionally. Since Blogger Social'08, I've resolved to increase my participation levels by contributing to more conversations. And one way to do that, like my good friend Luc Debaisieux says, is to listen to more conversations. There are so many amazing conversations happening all over the world, and social media is a really powerful channel to connect with the people who create them. Thank you for this very impressive post, Cam.

  • by Cam Beck Thu Apr 17, 2008 via blog

    Luc - I'm afraid I don't remember all of the specifics, but your comment reminded me of the famous composer/pianist who said the hardest part of playing in front of an audience was opening up the piano. Thank you for that.

  • by Cam Beck Thu Apr 17, 2008 via blog

    Arun - You (and Luc, for that matter) are living proof of just how small the world is. I'm so grateful that I got to finally meet you. If you find yourself in or near Dallas, please give me a shout.

  • by Luc Debaisieux Thu Apr 17, 2008 via blog

    Cam - Thank you and please let me return the call if you come anywhere near Brussels. - Very nice illustration with the pianist.

  • by Tammy Allen Fri Apr 18, 2008 via blog

    Hi Cam, I haven't been to Mprofs in a long time. I love this blog. I have become quite a butterfly over at myspace. I blog almost daily and read and comment on many others. The thing that's been the best is how many women I have met that are moms struggling with work and life. I have found so many kindred spirits and discovered how much we all have in common. They reach out to me when I'm having a hard time and I to them. Sometimes my virtual friends are more supportive than my in person friends. That makes sense in some ways but it's still really wonderful to know that someone in Oklahoma or New York or even Australia will send me a nice note or a funny note and also engage in interesting conversation about all kinds of topics. I started out blogging with a more marketing, career based goal in mind. As I got into it; it became clear that it was a creative outlet for everything I am thinking about personal or career related. It's a great ride and I encourage everyone to join the conversation.

  • by Valeria Maltoni Sun Apr 20, 2008 via blog

    That photo with you an Ann is priceless, Cam. I thought I saw Ann use it on Twitter. It took me about 18 months to make the rounds with blogging... it takes me a little more than a few hours face-to-face ;-) Here's the thing though: it takes a lot less to enter the conversation when there's interest, receptivity, and desire to connect. Attitude is everything in life.

  • by Cam Beck Mon Apr 21, 2008 via blog

    Hi Tammy - The thing I have always liked about virtual connections is the ability they allow us to be more measured and, when appropriate, more humorous in our responses, according to the circumstance. I find it is a great way to build relationships in the early stages, because in many ways, **if you are conscientious and not in a rush,** you can actually steer clear of misunderstandings that can occur in more spontaneous settings. However, if you are not conscientious or are in a rush, that can cause its own unique harm, too. I've found myself on both sides of that, and occasionally it has even been my fault. :) The virtue in meeting in person, on the other hand, lies in the level of warmth and depth of understanding/fellowship that the virtual world just cannot duplicate to scale. It's true that people can fall in love online, but til now they can only marry in person. :)

  • by Cam Beck Mon Apr 21, 2008 via blog

    Valeria - Agreed. And it takes a lot less to *browse* for the appropriate conversation online than it is to find one in person. Anonymity has its uses in the beginning, but once you've found a community you can get something out of, you're depriving others of your fellowship if all you do is lurk.

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