Unintentional Mentors

Over the past few months I have become more deliberate in how I utilize social networking because I began to realize that there was something more to it than gaining “friends” and “followers.”

If you look at it from a different perspective, you’ll start to notice that these networks can become one of the best tools the web has to offer. In fact, for me, social networking has become an invaluable set of tools; each serving a very specific purpose. For example:

  • My Blog [ subscribe ] – I utilize this format to write out my thoughts on being a dad, husband, business owner and student of Christ.
  • Facebook – This service helps me find old friends, keep in touch with family, network with business contacts and have “presence” with all of the above.
  • LinkedIn often comes in handy. Why? If you can build a big enough network, you can find just about anybody. This is especially useful when you need the specific name of someone to aid in prospecting a client, asking a question or even submitting a complaint.
  • Twitter is my favorite. Of all the social networks out there, Twitter does for me what none of the others have done yet: it connects me with people in real time. Furthermore, I can honestly say that Twitter has done more to extend my “network” than any of the others, combined. And when I say “network,” I mean meeting new people I want to meet.

Through all of these social networks, I have discovered new people who are experiencing life in ways that I will never be able to. Because of my “friends” willingness to update their status’, post a blog, add pictures, or simply write a short note on my “wall,” I am given permission to watch what’s going on, see who they are interested in and peek into life, as they know and share it.

However, the biggest surprise I’ve found in social networking? Unintentional mentors. These are the “friends” that I assimilate clues, patterns, tips and nuggets of wisdom from, on a regular basis. They are people who model aspects of life I strive for, who lead the way in my entrepreneurial space and who have the perspective of God that I deeply desire.

If you’re like me and you recognize that there are life lesson and experience gaps in your thinking and worldviews, then you understand the paramount need to learn as much as you can. While my personal pursuit for a face to face mentor hasn’t been as successful as I would like it to be, believe it or not, social networking, specifically Twitter, is beginning to meet my needs.

Rather than leaving this theoretical, I’d like to introduce some fellow “friends” that you might be interested in:

  • Michael Hyatt [ Blog | Twitter ] is perhaps, the most inspiring and influential person I follow. In fact, I would say that I’ve learned more in the past six months from him, than anyone else in my social network.
  • Phil Cooke [ Blog ] says it like it is. He offers a great perspective on faith, culture and media that I enjoy reading. He inspires me to become more bold.
  • Cara Davis [ Blog | Twitter ] – This girl is the blogging queen. She simultaneously contributes to 5-6 blogs on a regular basis while working and being a mom of a toddler. She inspires me to stick with the day-to-day, even when it may not look like it’s making a difference.
  • Seth Godin [ Blog ] writes a blog post almost daily. Each entry offers a paradigm shift, if you’ll let it. This makes me want to write better.

There are scores of other people that I could mention that would fit the description of “inspiring,” but the people above are those that I don’t let a Twitter or a blog post go by without reading it. They, like the thousands of others, have something unique to offer.

Social networking can you be your “friend” and it can be one of the greatest tools you’ll ever use. Like everything else, it’s up to you to make the most out of it.

For those of you who are right there with me, who are your unintentional mentors? I’d like to add to my “friends.”

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