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I had not seen Steve Garfield in a long time.
That's not entirely true. We schmoozed a little bit when I spoke at the Radian6 user summit a few years back in Boston. I first met Steve in 2006 at the first-ever PodCamp Boston. Since then, I always pegged him as the video podcasting guy (and the author of the excellent business book, Get Seen). We caught up over dinner this past week at HubSpot's incredible Inbound 2013 event in Boston. I was surprised to hear that he doesn't do much video podcasting anymore. He invests in startups. In fact, he's had some interesting exits in the past few years as Qik got acquired by Skype (for $150 million) and MakerBot got acquired Stratasys (for over $400 million). As we munched on chicken and waffles (don't ask!), I asked him how he got involved in such amazing startups. He answered in two words: social media.
Thinking differently about social media.
Everybody wants everything right now. Today. Instantly. Steve doesn't think like that. He gives abundantly. He shares. He connects. He brings people together. He makes himself available to people interested in the space. Whether it was video podcasting, blogging, running a new media meet-up or being active on Twitter, Steve isn't always looking for his next play or how much money he's making from the videos that he used to post online. He took his time. He built trust. He helped others and look what happened. He put in the time. He still puts in the time. People always ask me how to make money from blogging or podcasting or if there's any money in blogging and podcasting? Well, when Steve told me about his life, how it has unfolded and how all of this investing came from relationships he made via social media, it occurred to me that he is a another shining example of what can happen when you embrace social media for what it truly can be.
The good stuff isn't always directly connected.
There are a lot of stories similar to Steve's. Did you hear the one about Michelle Phan? She's 26 years old and has been creating YouTube tutorial videos about makeup. Currently, she has over 4.5 subscribers to her YouTube channel, and some of her videos have cranked past 40,000,000 views (not a typo). This week, Phan announced her own cosmetic line, em michelle phan, backed by L'Oreal. Yes, that L'Oreal. Mashable published a great story about Phan and her cosmetic line with L'Oreal: Michelle Phan: Behind the Makeup of YouTube's Fairy Godmother.
Seeing the bigger picture.
With each and every passing day, we're seeing more and more people build networks of trust through the creation of content that adds value and - by doing so - wind up in some pretty spectacular positions. It's easy to be negative and see these individuals as some kind of exception to the rule or an anomaly, but that is shortsighted. These individuals are doing what most brands (and individuals) don't have the ability or integrity to do: spend the time to actually build the trust first, instead of looking for that quick, big fix. It also speaks volumes to what the future holds for those eager to become entrepreneurs.
When you think about social media and what you're doing online, these stories may give you pause to think about a much bigger picture.