josie-alone018We buried Josie yesterday. Josie was special. Afflicted with an illness as an infant, her brain was damaged and she remained childlike her entire life. She was a hard worker and took her job responsibilities seriously; working for more than thirty years for one of our local hospitals. Josie was always smiling and always loving. Her gift was the unconditional love she offered all of us. She would have been 74 years old next week.

We will miss her so much.

Our family has lost three beloved family members in the past nine months. I have used social media to post about each loss and have been genuinely touched by the condolences I have received. During difficult times a kind message can make a world of difference.

Each of us makes decisions on how much of our private lives to reveal in our social media conversations. How much is pertinent? How much is too much? I was moved recently by Mari Smith’s post, “Choosing to Share My Private Journey—a Transparent Update”. It can’t have been easy to write. It only served to deepen my respect for her and her commitment to social networking and transparency.

Sharing personal information with our social media networks can help strengthen the relationships we are building. The groundswell of support I have received over the past few days is evidence of that. We are using social media to build business relationships, improve customer service, provide value, increase traffic, conduct market research, promote new ideas, connect and engage with people all over the world. At the same time, we are using social media to help one another, raise money for causes we believe in, and make each other laugh.

Recently, one of my Twittermates had a family crisis and asked for help from our local Twitter community. Her daughter was missing for several days and with the help of our Twittermates she was able to find her and bring her home. It was an amazing local demonstration of the power of social networking and of people’s desire—and ability—to help.

Sometimes the value we offer each other in social media is more than the information we share. It is the genuine caring.

Thank you for all of your support.