Three weeks ago I "won" an auction that Shel Israel held to raise money to improve the education of children in third world countries. To me, it was a win-win.
Frequent readers of this blog will know that I find it very fulfilling to help young people in foreign countries. Mostly, I think because so little can mean so much. And giving to children can be so personal.
And if I could use that opportunity and also help out a startup I am involved in, all the better.
So today me and a couple of friends/clients/business associates (labels are so "Web 1.0") drove to Austin to meet with Shel about a new startup we’ve been working on.
We didn’t ask for Shel to sign an NDA. The President of the company was with us, and he never asked for an NDA to be executed. It just never came up. It didn’t need to.
It was, quite literally, a "naked conversation". Naked, but not blind. I "knew" from reading Shel’s blog, knowing a few of his friends, and listening to some of his talks that I could trust him. This is a trust completely borne of "Social Networking". I knew of Shel through my group of online contacts. Five years ago I could not even have know who he was. Today I met him as a trusted friend.
And those friends who’s opinions I value? I hadn’t met any of them in person until after I met them online. Some of them I still have not met.
Trust can be established online. And just like in real life, the level of trust you place in people depends on the context of how you met them, where you met them, who you know in common, and what you think in common.
Just like the real world.
Of course, it helps to be a good judge of people – and hanging out with people that are easy to judge as "good".