First there were the Twitter friends. The people I turned to when I was first freelancing and so lonely sitting in the crowded coffee shop day in and day out. I didn’t know the people around me, but I had friends in the computer.
Then there was the bloggers. Silicon Valley Moms bloggers, local and not. They were my friends online and my friends in real life. Not friends I had playdates with, just friends I saw regularly at blogger events.
After that came the more extended blog network. Bloggers I’d worked with, met at conferences, met online, or just gotten to know through their blogs.
Late to the game came the Facebook network – a hodgepodge of real life friends, old school friends, blog friends, twitter friends, and, here and there, family members scattered all over the world.
In the middle of all that virtual connection I discovered a craving for real life tangible friends who could share a cup of coffee, not just “java.” With trepidation I walked into a mother’s group meeting at my daughter’s preschool. A year and a half later I have a real network of local friends, real, amazing people, who do real amazing things, and who are there for me when I need them.
Two years ago I thought my online network was more than sufficient. Today I know that I was missing something. I needed that balance of virtual and real, of online and off, of “colleagues” and friends.
In my mind both of my communities were clear cut and had their own roles. The online people were essentially work relations, the real life ones were friends. But life isn’t ever that neat. Each has bled into the other. I have real friends online and my real life people have proven over and over again that they have my back when it comes to my work and my career.
Either way, I win. I have great people in my corner. Amazing people I’m proud to have in my network and even more proud to count as friends. Their friendship and their faith in me gives me wings. And sometimes, I get to relax, share a mocha or a glass of wine and just enjoy being a friend back.