A Virtual Friendship Becomes Real

It’s amazing how the relationships we build through social networking become so “real.” Although we don’t personally know, nor have we physically met many of the people we ‘friend’ through social networking, somehow those relationship seem very real to us.

I was listening to an NPR podcast recently and there was a relationship specialist on the broadcast discussing this very topic. She was saying that many people develop strong relationships with folks they meet online and these relationships can be as real and as deep as those developed offline.

Yesterday was a very interesting day for me. I’m a big track and field fanatic and I was driving to Philadelphia to watch the Penn Relays – an annual trip for me. While driving along my merry way, my cell rings and the caller ID indicated it was a call coming from out of the U.S.

To my surprise it was from my ‘little sister,’ Marjorie Janczak (Marj) from Germany. Well, actually, Marj is not my real little sister [LOL], but that’s the kind of relationship we’ve developed. Marj is originally from Ghana but now lives in Germany.

I don’t remember exactly how we first met. But I do remember her coming back to post on my Facebook Wall several times after we became friends and that caught my attention. Most folks don’t seek to engage you in that way. So, I initiated an email conversation with her and we connected almost immediately.

Marj has a very unique niche on Facebook. Her thing is online social etiquette. She’s writing an ebook on how to “behave” online, so you can meet more people and hopefully, make more money. She’s even formed a group around the topic called: Oh, Behave!

Anyway, I’ve been offering Marj marketing advice and just helping her in general with stuff related to social media marketing. But I’ve never felt the inclination to charge her for my services. So, this led to her starting to call me her ‘big brother.’

Yesterday, after about three weeks of emailing ideas back and forth, she reaches me on my cell and we talk for about an hour. And it really was like ‘little sister’ and ‘big brother’ meeting for the first time. On one hand it was a little bizarre, but on the other hand it was a pleasing experience.

Of course, we had to end the call at some point and sadly we did. But we were glad we got to hear each other’s voice. She invited my family to come to Germany and visit with her family.

Now, there’s an underlying message within my story that might have slipped past you if you got caught up in the brother/sister part… and it’s this: You never know who that “stranger” is you’re asking to be your friend. It could be the person that is has been “appointed” to help you obtain your big break.

One lesson I learned from my Dad, is that there are no strangers. His philosophy was you should never pass up the opportunity to befriend others, simply because you never know what important role they’re going to play in your little production.

They could become a Star or they may be part of your supporting cast. Then there’s also the possibility they shouldn’t be part of your cast. But you never know – so why not cast your net beyond the people you already know? [That’s another blog for another day – stay tuned!]

Since I decided to apply that philosophy in my social networking, I’ve come to know some incredible people. Many opportunities have “fallen” into my lap so to speak… some of which I will be sharing with you later. Going forward you might want to consider introducing yourself to more people that you come across during your social networking activities.

Ok – so that was one of my virtual relationships that became real. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you about another that happened during the same drive to Philly – maybe I should take more rides to Philly.

Best to you!

Jim Turner

P.S. Go by and check out my Little Sister’s Oh, Behave! Group. Tell her Big Brother sent you. [LOL]


10 Responses to A Virtual Friendship Becomes Real

  1. Great post Jim! I’ve been in the Internet industry since 1990 and had many “virtual friendships” with people through email and USENET. Many of those friendships have continued nearly 20 years now and I do see some of those people from time to time. As we started to move into the web age of the Internet I feel that the interactions became 1-way for a while but now I see things blooming back into something very interesting.

  2. […] Mashable! – The Social Networking Blog wrote an interesting post today on A Virtual Friendship Becomes RealHere’s a quick excerptBut I do remember her coming back to post on my Facebook Wall several times after we became friends and that caught my attention. […]

  3. Karen Swim says:

    Hi Jim, I no longer even distinguish between friends met online or my “real” friends. Social media tools provide the opportunity to connect with people and develop relationships that are every bit as important as those developed offline. I have been blessed to have so many wonderful, gracious people in my cyber circle. My online friends share many of the same characteristics and interests as those met offline. I agree that we should cast a wide net on and off line for you never know the role that you can play in someone’s life or vice versa. Thanks for the great post!

  4. Aziz Abdur-Ra'oof says:

    Jim, I really enjoyed the post. I am fairly new to facebook and its amazing to me how fast you can connect with people and develop a friendship.
    Jim, Thank you for being a catalyst to human connection.

  5. Jim,

    Thank you for sharing this story.

    I, too, believe that strangers come into our lives–whether in the virtual or real world–for many reasons. When we help others realize their dreams and goals we help ourselves as well.

    I’m going to take a look at your Little Sister’s book right now.


  6. sara bailey says:

    Hi Jim

    I loved the story of you meeting your little sister and it seemed so timely for me. I am totally new to social networking with so called strangers and have just been using FB to connect with friends that I know personally. However in the last few days I have braved the second degree friends world and rather than bombard people I just decided I really want to get to know people and how we can assist each other mutually. Firstly I just feel so much more motivated knowing people out there with similar interests and passions. I know this social marketing is all going to fall into place oh so naturally and your wonderful example is a case in point. Thank you for your inspiration today


  7. Oh WOW! Now this article gave me goosebumps! You know, there’s just “feeling” we get sometime when we meet certain people.

    The intuition that this person is “real” and genuine!

    That’s exactly how I felt with you, Jim, the first time I met you on Facebook and even more recently on the phone!

    You just have that “something” about you!

    Looking forward to great things ahead together, as I’m sure Marjorie is as well! 😉

    Michelle Flores

    • Jim Turner says:

      Hi Michelle,

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. Sometimes it amazes me how we meet people and you’ll swear that you’ve met them before somewhere… there is an instant connection… you need no icebreakers to get comfortable with each other… it just happens with no logical explanation!


  8. That is true Michelle and though you may not know Jim, my son also knows that mom has a brother called Jim.
    The other day, when his father said he was going to the Gym, my son said “but papa, that is mama’s brother, is he here?”
    I also certainly believe in instincts and that certainly has never failed me in my life.

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