When you get up to a critical mass of blog readership, you start getting a different kind of conversation from the crowd. Most of it is fantastic and I'm lucky to have it, but some of it, not so much. You get form letters from people marketing their new services to bloggers, LinkedIn and Facebook friend requests from people you've never heard from before, solicitations for link exchanges, blog network invitations and a whole host of Starbucks invites. These aren't necessarily bad things, but a lot of them are just, well, out of the blue. It's the blog equivalent of asking for sex on the first date... or even before the first date. Call me old fashioned.
Since most of these people have never read my past blog posts about these types of things, I'm going to summarize my stance on all of them here.
First off, this is my personal blog. I do not, as a matter of intention, "review" products the way Techcrunch does, so please don't ask me to review anything. I'm happy to check something out and give quick feedback, but I'm lot actively looking for review submissions.
I am always, however, searching for products that will answer my own selfish needs, and so I'll sometimes write about a product's ability or inability to provide a useful service. This does not occur as the result of a review request. It does happen as the result of notes that begin, "Hey, remember when you were looking for "x", well I found (or "we have", if you're a marketer) a product that solves your problem." This shows you're showing me something because you think your service applies to me specifically, not just because I have a lot of blog readers.
If you still insist on pitching me something with an actual pitch letter, then please please do not blow smoke in my face and tell me that you read my blog all the time. Its ok if you don't. A lot of people don't. Most people don't. (My mom does, though...) I know who many of my blog readers are because they show up in MyBlogLog or they comment or I read theirs and see my link on their blogrolls. People who emerge from the abyss to pitch something are not easily believed to be
"long time, first times."
As for all of these social networks, I basically use two... Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook is a place for my friends. By friends, I mean people who I've met, hung out with, or would actually hang out with if they were in the same city. Just because we met professionally does not mean we're besties, but rest assured, I value you immensely either way--as a reader, as a professional, as a colleague, etc. If we are professional and reciprocal contacts in real life, please do feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Reciprocal is key here, though. Reading my blog or just being in nextNY but never having met or spoken to me is one way, not reciprocal. Just because I have a lot of LinkedIn contacts doesn't mean I just add everyone. I need to be able to at least know you enough to recommend you on some basis, even if we just had a few side words over a specific blog post. The first time I hear from you should not be without an introduction on LinkedIn. That's like showing up to my office out of the blue and saying "Do you want to have a meeting?"
And then there's this odd little Plugoo box that gives you a direct means of IMing me. It connects straight to AIM, which I'm usually on, and, I hate to admit it, I generally answer even when I'm working. So, if you're ok with continuous partial attention, because you probably caught be doing something else, I'm usually up for a little Plugoo chat write through that little box. Try it.. .it works! It is quickly becoming my favorite widget.
As for in person meetings, you should know that I do not drink alcohol or coffee (I will go for a SBUX skim chat, though...). The alcohol thing is just a personal preference...there are no problems with me that you need to worry about in that area, but it does provide an interesting social dilemma when people ask to meet up for a drink. I do frequent lots of bars (you can't play on as many sports teams as I do without doing so), and don't mind them at all...it's just that when I do go, Sprite is my drink of choice, as my friends know. If you're cool with that, then sure, by all means, ask me out for a drink. I'm all for it.
Lunches work great for me, although I try to spend them with contacts I already have and friends, too. I try not to take blind lunches too often, but they're not so bad, because at worst I get fed.
That's always a good thing.
If you really want to meet up, connect, network, etc...just hangout where I hangout...simple as that. You can usually find me on weekends at the Downtown Boathouse Pier 40 location where I kayak and volunteer for our public kayaking program on the Hudson. That season goes from mid-May to mid-October. Other than that, I try to make as many nextNY and NY Tech Meetup events as I can. It's always easier to catch up in person when I'm already planning to be out somewhere with other tech folks, as opposed to finding other times and taking time away from other things, which I'm happy to do, but we have to start somewhere.
Ok, is that fair?