At the end of April, with sloppy snow falling on Montreal, I am again grateful to be working from my little home office. Despite the many benefits of a commute-free existence, however, there are times when I just long for a some contact with colleagues. Scheduling a little time for hanging out both online and off can make all the difference.
This week, Joseph Lambert published a brilliant post about the pleasures of working from his home office. He also admitted to a certain “degradation of social skills”. I could relate.
Chatting with local merchants is one way to hone your social skills. There is one small drawback. Have you ever noted the butcher’s, baker’s and candlestick maker’s peculiar air of restrained tolerance, the odd bobblehead bob nod, whilst you blather on? Hmmm, yes, that.
With few exceptions … okay, I can’t think of any exceptions. Face it. None of my local merchants really gives a hoot about the ins and outs of my working life.
So, I’ve discovered a more practical and effective approach to keeping my social skills sharp while learning a lot in the process: hanging out both online and off with colleagues who know a lot about fascinating topics or whose company you truly enjoy.
The Lunch Bunch with Ray Hiltz
This week, to get my social fix, I tuned in to the Lunch Bunch hosted by Ray Hiltz. In addition, to being a Montrealer, a friend, and a widely-recognized go-to Google+ guy, a background in theatre makes Ray a crack showman.
Every Tuesday at 12:15, he and a hand-picked panel of experts discuss an issue related to social media. Typically, a special guest with particular expertise in the chosen topic participates as well.
For example, this past Tuesday, the show focused on online community building and featured Mark Timberlake, Director of SME Heroes. Mark‘s involvement in Udemy vividly demonstrates how faithfully he lives up to his Google+ tagline: Helping Others Help Themselves.
Yesterday, after having connected on LinkedIn two years ago, I finally met a colleague face-to-face in real life (IRL). Turns out that this colleague—let’s call her Marta—is also originally from New England in the U.S., arrived in Montreal a little over 15 years ago, and became a translator by a rather circuitous route. The capper? Marta has lived in my neighbourhood in Montreal all this time and our paths have never crossed!
We wound up yacking a blue streak for 90 minutes at Le café Petit Flore, a bistro we both love. With all the things and people we have in common, it is really amazing that we had never met before. And, honestly, neither of us can figure out how or why we connected online. Call it cyber-kismet.
Why the secrecy about Marta’s real name? She agreed to let me interview her formally for a future proFile post. I want it to be a surprise.
My social skills still need some work. Luckily, hanging out with friends and colleagues is an extremely pleasant self-improvement plan.
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Image credit: “Le café du matin, à Paris: Au café” by Abel Damourette (1842-1878) via Wikimedia Commons