“Only one is a wanderer; two together are always going somewhere…” Kim Novak, Vertigo


So last week, some of my fellow SEMpdx Board Members and I got together for a SearchFest 2010 planning meeting.  We discussed many relevant topics (date, venue, topics, speakers, etc.) and at the end of the meeting, I was tasked with inviting a group of speakers, most of whom I consider some of my closest friends in our industry.

Writing a “formal” invitation email to your friends is a bit awkward.  It’s tempting to write something along the line of:

SEMpdx Wants U 4 SearchFest 2010.  Can U Speak?  LULZ.

Most of my friends would understand this messaging but I’d be lacking some of the specifics they need to make their decision.  So, I settled on the following:


SEMpdx is officially inviting you to speak at SearchFest 2010, taking place next (…sorry, not announcing the date publicly yet).

We’ve done some preliminary matching of speakers to topics and we’d like you to speak about…(on the same panel as…).

Please let me know your thoughts and if you have any questions.

The responses I received fell into two different camps. 

love to, will check schedule and be back to you Todd :).  Thanks, always means a lot to me to be invited to semPDX.

Sounds great – count me in.

Sounds cool, thanks for thinking of me 🙂

Sounds awesome, I’d love to speak at SearchFest again – and with…, that’s like icing on the cake!!

Hi Todd…I’d love to be part of SEMpdx again. I accept your invitation and will plan on attending.

Then I got the following two responses:

Hey Todd!

How are you? I hope things are going well for you 🙂

I would love to be part of SearchFest again this year! Thanks for thinking of me & keep me posted on anything you may need from me moving forward…

Can’t wait! Hope all is well mister, and talk to you soon 🙂

Hi Todd hope things are good on your side of the PNW. I think I could do that….

Still casual responses but a bit more formalism built in.

So, where am I going with this?

All of us are in (social media) relationships with others that encompass varying degrees of depth and complexity.  I see myself “in” close social media relationships with 50-100 people or so (including the folks I quoted above) meaning I read some or all of what they write; I make it a point to follow what they say on Twitter (and tweet back and forth with them); and generally treat them in the social media sphere as I would treat a close friend outside of social media.  Though I don’t know for sure, I believe everybody that I quoted above follows at least a portion of what I tweet / write about online.

In my closest social media relationships, all pretense falls away in favor of direct expression.  Since me and the others are part of a continual conversation, long periods of silence cease to be uncomfortable…people can go away for a while without notice and that’s perfectly OK…and they can pop right back into the group without missing a beat.  Even when the conversation switches to a more private medium such as email and I reach out to the folks I’m closest to for interpersonal conversation, frequently, I dispense with the “Hi …” and immediately delve into the reason for the contact. Sometimes I just find the last email they sent me and hit reply (even if the topic isn’t relevant to the current communication).  Now, for in-person meetings, this wouldn’t fly (we haven’t evolved quite this far yet)…however, I believe that anyone who knows me well doesn’t read the directness of my communication as anything other than my attempt to present my thoughts and ideas in the most expedient way possible.    

I think 5 of the 7 people I quoted were on the same plane as I was in dispensing with any and all formalism and continuing our ongoing conversation, while 2 were on a slightly different wavelength.

Or perhaps, they were just trying to be polite…

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