I can now add social media consultant to list of job titles that includes writer, editor, publisher, proofreader, professor, and a few other things I haven't done in a long time. Social media doesn't sound like anything important, but it has provided some great opportunities in the past. I have also met a few people whom I wouldn't have otherwise encountered.
Like most people I started out using social media to catch up with friends--moving across the US and then to China created some distance, and social media allowed me to keep in touch with a lot of people. Twitter came out while I was still in China, and I managed to find a lot of friendly and helpful people. It was because of people I met through Twitter that I was able to create a functioning Web site for Terracotta Typewriter. Many of the same people have also helped to promote the literary journal.
When Jia had her visa interview in Guangzhou, I was able to meet up with one such person. We met at the foreign-friendly Ikea cafeteria for coffee (that was the first time I ever set foot in Ikea anywhere in the world). I met him again at our favorite Guangzhou restaurant a few months later as Jia and I made our farewell rounds. I was then introduced to another person I had "met" through social media.
Most recently, I met with a larger group of people (most of whom were connected with Twitter) at Congee Inc. in Chinatown (who knew I'd find congee that I actually enjoyed eating). Everyone at our dinner meeting had spent time in China (at least one was on the way back to China).
I'm certainly looking forward to TBEX in New York (though I waited too long to buy my ticket and it's sold out) so I can meet a few of the travel writers I've encountered online. And if anyone can get me a ticket for TBEX, I'd be even happier.