I began thinking about how Twitter, Facebook and even LinkedIn have changed the nature of the networking events I attend. Curious whether others had already commented on this phenomenon, I tried Googling a few related words and stumbled onto a post from the Chicago Tribune that said, “Just as beer is a social lubricant in real life, Twitter and Facebook are social lubricants online and have made the 160-year-old newspaper more approachable than ever. Through social media, Colonel Tribune (The Tribune’s Twitter avatar) listens to story ideas, news tips and site suggestions.” Okay, so it’s not just me.

Last Wednesday, the tweeters of Northwest Indiana came together for their monthly tweetup (a meet up for people using Twitter.) More than 30 of us met at Buffalo Wild Wings in Portage. They serve beer there and plenty of us enjoyed a pint or two. These gatherings are really not about the beer though, or even about Twitter, for that matter. They are about connections.

Many of us have become regulars and know each other quite well, meeting for business and social reasons outside of scheduled tweetups. There were a lot of new faces as well, which is always fun. First time attendee Kevin Gould of LaPorte tweeted the morning after “Thanks to the #nwindiana crew for a great #nwitweetup or as I called it, networking on steroids!” Randi Light of New Buffalo Hypnosis was another first timer and tweeted a similar sentiment, “What is fun and a powerful networking group? It’s #nwitweetup. Meet great people, make great connections.” Jerry Davich, columnist from the Post Tribune, was another first timer and later tweeted, “Had a great time tonight at my first NWI TweetUp event at BW3 in Portage, meeting people I never knew existed. What a concept.”

Another networking group that came on the scene within the last year is Northwest Indiana Business Professionals, created by Jeff Eriks of Cambridge Construction in Griffith. Jeff and his coworkers have done a fabulous job of putting together a highly professional monthly networking event, while maintaining a related group on LinkedIn. All of the events I have attended were well organized with very good speakers. When I attend other types of networking events, I inevitably end up with a handful of business cards, owners of which may or may not be on LinkedIn. At Jeff’s event however, most of the attendees participate on LinkedIn. It makes following up and staying connected much, much easier.

Cambridge Construction is an architectural firm as well as a builder. Evidently, they are also very good at building networks as well!