Around a year and a half ago, Chris Fawkes asked me if I was willing to help him as a co-administrator for Facebook Wedding Photographers. He had about 3000 members in the forum and it simply seemed like a fun thing to do. I had been following Chris for a while, liked his approach and definitely his skill set.
We changed the group to a closed group and slowly started removing everybody who wasn't a photographer. We did our best to remove brides, makeup artists, travel agents, retailers - anybody who didn't have something to do with image capture. Today the forum is coming up on 16,000 members from around the world, but an Australian and an American working on a project together is hardly anything worth posting about. However...
Last night we did our very first Skype video call and had a chance to actually talk to each other. It was a kick - my day was ending as Chris' was just beginning. During the conversation Chris mentioned somebody who had said to him that you can't build real friendships through Facebook and social media and that's my point this morning.
Chris and I are proof that indeed you can!. I admit I'd love to get out to lunch once in awhile with him and just talk about the business, but through hundreds of messages and conversations on Facebook, there's a quality to our friendship that matches many of the people I've worked with for years. We've worked on so many different aspects of the forum that we both know how the other is thinking about something and the respect we have for each other matches any normal business partnership.
So, here's my point as this business week comes to a close...
First, for those of you who still don't want to get involved in social media - it's your loss! Second, if you are involved take the time to get to know some of the people whose comments on line you find interesting. Visit their website, read their blog, pay attention to their comments. Third, pick up the phone or crank up Skype - either way you've got a chance to expand your network and raise the bar on its quality with some new friends.
Last on the list - building online friendships takes patience and communication skills. Writing is one of the toughest ways to communicate, because so often things can be misconstrued, especially on anything sensitive. Take your time, choose your words carefully and just be helpful.
There are hundreds of forums on Facebook, each one giving you a chance to share your passion for some aspect of life with other likewise dedicated people. In photography alone there are so many opportunities to share ideas, challenges and images, but you won't find them if you're not involved.
As I've written before, you can either stand on the sidelines and watch the parade go by or, you can get involved and be a part of it!
Wishing everybody a terrific weekend!
Image copyright Chris Fawkes. All rights reserved.