I saw this report that a good percentage of online social media users (27%) find that their offline relationships benefit from online interaction. I think that’s true, and I bet that the SQL Server people I follow would agree. I think the online posts among us leading up the Summit helped us become more engaged once we arrived in person. Especially with SQL Karaoke.
However I don’t think this is anything new. As I’ve read accounts of people’s lives from history, it seemed that those that engaged in writing letters, the offline communication of the past, were often very social in public. They kept engaged with their friends and family with these delayed communications over time.
That’s essentially what we do with IM, Facebook, Twitter, etc., it’s just at a quicker pace. I’m sure Abraham Lincoln would have liked to engage with Mary when he was on the road, or his Secretary of State, Seward, or his Secretary of the Treasury, Chase, with a telephone or Twitter if they had been available. As it was, he spent many nights awaiting word of what was happening in his country in the telegraph room.
I think social media has a place in today’s world, and in your career. It’s a way to interact with others that aren’t physically located near you. And while it can be a time sink or a drain on your resources, it can also be very rewarding in growing relationships with other professionals.