How Online Networking Might Change the World – Seriously.

The Jerry Lewis annual telethon was first broadcast in 1955. 54 years later it is broadcast on 180 stations in the United States. Pretty impressive. But wait until you hear this.

In just the last 3 weeks, 180 cities throughout the world have come together to hold simultaneous events on February 12 in every city, to raise funds for a single charity dedicated to providing clean water in third world countries, Charity: Water. The event was called “Twestival”, short for Twitter Festival, and happened worldwide on Feb. 12, 2009.

This event was organized organically by thousands of people who have never met, but are chatting on the internet via a online networking site called, thus the name Twestival.

A local fundraiser in one city normally takes a year of planning to pull off. This international event went from idea to event in less then four weeks. The amount of money raised in this initial event won’t come close to what the Jerry Lewis telethon raises, but the potential for next year and beyond is staggering.

Online networking (most call it social networking, which is an oxymoron to me) has made possible a first in history event that gives a window into its potential. Just as when the telephone was introduced, many have questioned the role this new communications medium could play in building businesses or creating revenue. And as with the telephone, many hours can be wasted using it.

But organizing a single event in less than a month in 180 cities worldwide without an existing network or prior relationships might change some minds on the power and usefulness of digital and online networks.

My own bias – online networking can be just as big a waste of time as endlessly attending local networking events and collecting hundreds of business cards we won’t do anything with. Stop networking, and start building a network. Stop collecting contacts and start making true connections. It’s great to have thousands of people following you on Twitter because you are more likely to be able to start a movement like Twestival. But then find the few people you connect with there and build relationships.

See Charity Water to check out the fantastic charity that received hundreds of thousands from this international event.

Find a way to use online networking to make an impact like this.

It just might change the world. Seriously.