I have a lot of passion for Social Media. Why do I have such such passion? Two reasons, really: first, because almost all of my close friendships originated on Twitter, and, second, because every significant business opportunity I have in process at the moment can be traced back to Social Media.

I love the way Jeff Turner (@ResPres) expresses a similar perspective regarding the ROI of Social Media in this clip (see full version of this video here):

My Humble (and Erroneous) Beginnings

But I digress. Let me go back and start from the start. How did I go from Twitter hater to Social Media blogger for InmanNEXT?

It all started with an innocent exchange between me and one of my agents. She approached me in January of 2009, and asked me a simple question: “What do you think of Twitter?”

I really didn’t know much about Twitter at that time, but, sadly for me, that didn’t keep me from having a strong opinion.

I wrote her a long email in response, the punchline of which is what you see below, which has become a staple of virtually every presentation I give about Social Media these days.

As is clearly evident, I, like many people, felt that Twitter was perhaps *cough* not the best use of a person’s time. To put it mildly….

Nicole to the Rescue

Several months later (on March 28, 2009, to be exact), I decided to join Twitter to see if the advice that I had provided to my agent was even remotely accurate.

Not long thereafter, I had the good (no, the GREAT) fortune of running into Nicole Nicolay (@Nik_Nik), who sent me this video:

Insert Epiphany HERE

In the blink of an eye, my original perceptions of “Twitter” and of “Social Media” were completely altered.

I realized that I had woefully prejudged and misjudged what these things were all about.

I realized that Twitter didn’t have to be about “picking up my dry cleaning” or “what I had for lunch” or any other other form of personal minutiae and drudgery.

No, Twitter and Social Media could be about ANYTHING that we wanted them to be.

Most Powerful Engagement & Connection Opportunity

And it was at that point that I saw Social Media for what it really is: the most powerful engagement and connection opportunity ever created. The infinite relationship creation machine. The magic network-expand-o-matic. The social mixer that never closes. All these things, and so much more.

I felt a real, personal connection to Nicole just because of this silly little video that she made. I felt like I actually knew her a little bit.

We then communicated directly on Twitter. Then on Facebook. And then I blogged about her. And then she blogged about me.

She’s been on my blogtalkradio show several times. Because of her putting in a good word for me, I’ve shared stages with her in San Francisco, Portland, Las Vegas and Seattle.

She’s appeared in videos that I’ve created. She’s spoken about me at events in front of national brands.

I’ve had dinner with her at Nobu in Vegas. We’ve had drinks at Swig in San Francisco and at other bars whose names escape me in other cities.

I consider her, her husband Reggie (@ReggieRPR) and her partner at Agent Evolution, Chad Johnson (@ChadAJohnson), personal friends. I’ve even met her mother-in-law and her grand-mother-in-law. I interact with her mother-in-law on Facebook on a consistent basis.

And Nicole and I continue to interact, consistently, to this day. We’ve never stopped building this relationship of ours.

I cannot even begin to calculate how much she’s done for me, in terms of what it is that I’m trying to do with my brand and my career in and through Social Media.

A Thousand Points of Social Media

Now here’s the really cool part: Nicole is JUST ONE OF MANY stories just like this that I can tell you.

I have developed amazing relationships with some of the most influential people in my industry.

And I’ve had unbelievable opportunities present themselves to me on a consistent basis for the last year or so. That I am writing this blog post for Inman New’s NEXT is just one illustration of what I am talking about.

You can click here to see many other of these “Social Media ROI” examples to which I am referring.

The opportunities just keep getting bigger and better, and they keep arriving with greater frequency.

And they all – every single one of them – trace back to Social Media.

Don’t Miss My Point!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the 200ish blog posts I’ve written in the last year and a half, it’s this: people love when you provide some helpful advice…and they pretty much ignore you when you talk about yourself.

So, if you’re still with me (insert potential *crickets* here), don’t miss this: this post is NOT about me. It is about YOU!

Allow me to explain: If I (and others, like Jeff Turner, and Nicole, and countless others I can name) can create real results using Twitter and other forms of Social Media…YOU CAN, TOO!

Why? Because I am as ordinary and as vanilla as they come.

My secret? Simple, logical, consistent use of Social Media…and, in my case, it’s been mostly Twitter.

This isn’t rocket science. It’s roll-up-your-sleeves, prepare yourself for a marathon and just run your race. Interact. Communicate. Engage.

If you’re not sure how to do all these things, keep reading this NEXT blog (my fellow contributors are awesome!) and attending events where people with real success stories share their secrets.

Really, Really Bad Advice

So, in conclusion, let me close with these thoughts: Every big opportunity I have going on in my life right now can be traced back to Social Media. Because of these things, my career is on an entirely different track than it was before Social Media. Most of my Social Media efforts have been concentrated within Twitter.

Ergo…Twitter has changed my life.

So, it looks like that advice I gave my agent was pretty awful, eh?

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