By Caitlin Kelly
I began blogging because my then-agent insisted I create a social media presence to help sell my second book. I never wanted to tweet, but thought I’d better get with the program. Ditto for Instagram.
But I now enjoy them all.
I use social media, more than anything, to connect professionally and personally with people I find smart, interesting and civil.
The photo above was taken at a favorite Toronto cafe where, in March 2017, I finally met another writer, someone super-creative I’d admired from a distance, and who knew some people in common.
I only “knew” her from her Facebook posts and blog, but we had a great time. I later hired and paid her to coach me on how to better use social media for work, which she teaches at my alma mater, the University of Toronto.
This trip — most of it solo through seven European cities and six countries — has also finally given me a chance to meet some people I’ve only known through social media.
Several years ago, I started reading Small Dog Syndrome, intrigued by the worldly young woman who wrote it. We began by reading one another’s blogs, worked together (virtually) for a year, and finally met face to face only in January 2015 when I stepped off the Eurostar from Paris.
We sat and talked for so long at the train station her worried husband called to see if we were OK. We were indeed!
They generously hosted me — having just met — for a week(!) in their teeny London flat, and this month I was able to return the favor by hosting them for several nights at the Paris apartment we rented this trip.
It’s been a huge pleasure to get to know them both.
Now in Berlin, I’ve met three more social media pals, all of whom I’ve gotten to know through their blogs, some private emails and weekly Twitterchats focused on travel, like #trlt, #culturetrav and #travelskills.
I met Kate and her fiance, and we spent the day talking and walking through a flea market and through Tiergarten, one of Berlin’s huge and fantastic parks, filled with brown bunnies, lakes with rowboats, beer gardens and lots of benches.
It felt immediately comfortable, as if we weren’t meeting face to face for the first time.
The other two people I met, through weekly travel Twitterchats, are a travel blogger and — of all things — an archaeologist who works primarily on a Neolithic site in Turkey; I knew he and I were sympatico when we started (!) tweeting Rocky Horror Picture Show lyrics at one another across the Atlantic.
We all went out for lunch and had a fantastic time. Finally meeting someone face to face is always a bit of a blind date, so it requires optimism and openness. But, really, it’s just lunch!
I’ve done this now in several cities, and enjoyed every meeting.
Have you met some of your blog or Twitter followers in person?
How did it turn out?