Social media leads to social life…

A delightful afternoon in the company of artist Deena Gu Laties happily confirms the fact that the ultimate benefit of social media and online communication lies in real face-to-face human interaction, and hopefully the beginning of a lovely new friendship. I first met Deena via email in response to an invitation to a reception I planned for my client North Star Yacht Club.

A new resident at the riverfront condominium community in North Fort Myers, FL, this exceptionally talented watercolor artist loves the panoramic water views and incredible natural light that inspire her painting.

When we finally got to meet at the event,  I was struck immediately by Deena’s warmth and her ability to draw others into interesting conversation, and following the party I was eager to learn more about her art and her background growing up in Shanghai.  I learned a lot by visiting her website and she inspired my idea for a new feature column on North Star Yacht Club’s website: “The Company We Keep.”

But like the new media experts espouse, electronic communications works best as the means to an end — it’s the face-to-face encounter that sparks a real relationship.  So when I decided we had learned enough about each other on line, I asked Deena if she would like a mini-tour of the Fort Myers area and an introduction to the local arts community.  I thought the best way to accomplish that was to bring her over to the Alliance of the Arts. There, she could get to know several hundred area artists and become familiar with the wonderful resources that organization offers.  Publicity director Chelsea Birczak gave us a very informative and friendly tour — Deena was extremely impressed and is planning to become a member.

Next stop, downtown Fort Myers where I filled her in on the recent refurbishments and excitement about the downtown area, Art Walk , the Sidney & Berne Davis Center and the growing arts community.  She was also interested in learning about the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce so I brought her into the downtown banking office of Florida Gulf Bank to meet some of the leaders of the business community. Finally, we enjoyed a delicious outdoor lunch at Delicious Things where we shared conversation about our families and our backgrounds.

Yes, the sun was shining on another beautiful day in Southwest Florida — but the warmth really came from a day filled with so much personal interaction — from Chelsea’s warm welcome, to the Florida Gulf Bank staff taking some time out to greet a new community member, to the interesting and inspiring lunch conversation — the experience was a shining example of the impact new media can have when it leads to the ultimate goal: building relationships.

I hope others have similar experiences they would like to share — find out more about me and my PR firm at

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