Social media can put you in good company, especially when you're making connections on the fly.
A few months back, I had a two-day conference in Dana Point, California. I had never been there and did not know a soul who lived in the area (or so I thought). After a quick search on Twitter, I was able to "meet" the CEO of the local Chamber of Commerce as well as a member of the city council. It was an opportunity that wouldn't have existed without social media.
Don't listen to those who dismiss sites like Twitter as stupid. Social media and online social networks are about much more than just collecting more "friends" than the person in the office next to you. Social media is the great connector, and it's the ultimate business travel companion.
Even if you're experiencing some Twitter fatigue (and that's understandable given the press it's received), the micro-blogging platform continues to be one of the better ways to leverage the power of online social networking to meet and connect, and even to grow your business while on the road. Yes, you get the mundane tweets like "Pizza, movie, sleep and then a 6 a.m. flight to Calgary." So what? Don't follow these people. But there are plenty of mobile business people using the service to either connect and build their personal brand or simply be that much more efficient while on the go. Companies continue to expand into social media channels as well. From airlines and travel consultants to restaurants and entertainment spots, you can find tons of immediate and live information, customer service, special opportunities and, yes, even travel tips.
I'm a fan of Twitter specifically because it's fast and easy to use on a mobile device and, more importantly, because of how powerfully contextual it is.
Curious if anyone else is at SFO and would like to grab a coffee? Do a simple Twitter Search on "SFO," and you'll know exactly who is there at the same time as you are. I can't tell you how often an anticipated night of room service and YouTube turned into a real-life meet-up because of a simple tweet out to my network. The mobile versions of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are also great ways to stay connected while in a cab or waiting to board a flight. They're a veritable stream of consciousness - from business news to random insights - of the people you have chosen to follow and connect with.
The last (and most powerful) function of the mobile versions of these online social networks for travel is the wisdom of crowds. If you're lost in a strange city, not sure about a currency conversion or looking for a quick restaurant meal, a simple status update or tweet to your crowd becomes the ultimate live and real-time human search engine. Those who complain about the banality of social media have it all wrong. It's like dismissing all TV because of the bad shows. The trick to social media is in making the right connections and having the right people follow you back.
You can feel free to follow me on Twitter here: @mitchjoel.
The above posting is my monthly tech and gadget column for enRoute Magazine called, Ultraportable. I cross-post it here with all of the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here: