Friday October 11, 2013 | 11:15 AM
Posted by Rob Gould

On Wednesday night 2 Degrees Portland held one of their regular events for connectors, connectees and the greater Portland community. The theme of the event was "Making it in Maine" and it was held at the The VIA Agency's headquarters in the historic Baxter Library Building on Congress St. There were more than 100 people in attendance throughout the course of the evening.

2 Degrees Portland is a network of people who want to sustain and grow the city's economy by welcoming creators, innovators, entrepreneurs, and thinkers to the area — a sort of 21st century welcome wagon.

If you live and/or work in the Portland area and would like to be a Connector for 2 Degrees, you can fill out a short form on the 2 Degrees site and tell them about yourself, what you enjoy talking about, and the type of people you'd most like to meet.

What's in it for you? 2 Degrees Portland holds informal gatherings every other month, to help you to break out of your domain silo and get to know the diverse array of people who make Portland a great place to live and work. While you'll have a good time, you'll also strengthen Portland's creative community and help newcomers tap into 2 Degrees' growing network of talented, motivated people.

Wednesday's event at VIA proved to be a huge success. Following an introduction from Jennifer Hutchins, executive director of Creative Portland, the evening featured comments from John Coleman, VIA's founder and CEO. John, and VIA's president Leeann Leahy (a recent transplant from NYC), also offered tours of the building. As always, there was lots of great networking and socializing throughout the evening. Abundant adult beverages and snacks assisted in making for a lively evening.

I was fortunate enough to meet many interesting people, both new arrivals to Portland and long-time residents. I took the opportunity to snap some photos and ask the question(s), "How has social media assisted you in acclimating yourself to Portland?" -or- "How has social media assisted you in networking in Portland?"

A huge thank you to everyone involved at 2 Degrees Portland for putting on a fantastic event!

Abbie McGilvery, Rachel Irwin, and Michael Leonard

Abbie McGIlvery - " Social media is very important to the Chamber of Commerce. Before we had our social media platforms running at full speed we had a hard time communicating with our members. Now we have a powerful stream of information going out to our communities at all times. We're constantly up on the most recent happenings on Twitter and on Facebook we're able to share photos and make ourselves more human. We know that people don't connect with companies and brands as much as they do with the people who work within those companies and brands. It's really important." 

Rachel Irwin - "I was living in California about three years ago and I was seeing all of the amazing things that were happening in Portland on Facebook. That was my main news source. I was like, "Wow, what's going on in Portland?! I have to move back there." My main way of communicating with people who lived in Porland, and networking for jobs, was on Facebook and Twitter. Now that I'm here, I use Facebook as my news stream. I check it a billion times a day. I want to see what my friends, colleagues and peers are doing. Then you hear about events, like the one happening here tonight at VIA, and you meet people in person. It's great." 

Michael Leonard - "I moved to Portland about six years ago. Facebook, in particular, has helped incredibly in different circles. There's the music circle, and if there's one degree of separation in Portland, social media shrinks that even further. There's also the business associates circle. So, with different circles of people it connects you more quickly and exponentially more deeply. I mean, some social media relationships are superficial but some really do get much deeper. Personally, I think social media has helped immeasurably to expidite the social integration of myself into Portland-town (laughs)." 

Chelsea DeLorme and Jessica Tomlinson

Chelsea DeLorme - "It's funny, I had the impression that you ran this town."

Me - "Me?"

Chelsea - "I was on Twitter and everyone who identified their location as Portland was retweeting you." 

Me - "And then you learned better." 

Chelsea - "I ultimately quit Twitter because I treated it as a portal to the end of the Internet. I would just click and click and click as if I could get to the end, but it's actually endless.""

Me - "So, I can see I was helpful." "How do you think social media has been helpful to your work with 2 Degrees?""

Chelsea - "It's interesting because we actually have more Facebook members than people who have signed up to be either connectors or connectees. This tells us that there may be a fair amount of people who are curious about what this organization is, and what the process is, and how much of a commitment it is. So, what we're working on now is how to better communicate what we do and why it's important. And, really how on an individual level the commitment is fairly low, but collectively it does make a big difference in how people perceive Portland as being a more welcoming and less 'Yankee-stereotype' kind of a place." 

Jessica Tomlinson - "Sometimes I'll hear names of people and inevitably within 24-48 hours I'll come across them on social media. It's a small town. Not just Portland itself, but even more so online. So, I think it's been helpful to talk about the notion of how easy it is to network online."

Myriam Campbell, Randy Ferrell, and Tim Gillis

Myriam Campbell - "I moved to Portland fairly recently. I'm here tonight because my friend Tim invited me to join. I came here with no expectations but at the moment I feel very elated. I think it's good to meet all of these different people who have a similar goal. It's very uplifting." 
Randy Ferrell - "Social media has helped me to connect even more deeply in Portland after living here for a decade. I posted on a social media site about how I had created a presentation about the Arts District. Because of that I was offered a seat on the Creative Portland board." 
Tim Gillis - "I do the listings for the Portland Daily Sun. When I go to find information on different events, social media has been great in helping me track down that info. I do wish there could be a couple of central sites for people in Portland to find information on different topics/events of interest to them."  
Xanthe Charov and Jeff Badger
Xanthe - "This makes me feel like kind of an old person, but I really don't think it's helped me much at all. I'm really not a big user of social media." 
Jeff - "Social media helps me to realize there really are an incredible amount of things to do in such a small city. 
Alice Kornhauser, Charity West and Tracy Eames
Alice Kornhauser - "LinkedIn has really been helpful as a way to quickly and easily connect with people I either have met or would like to meet. You meet people in passing and you make connections and LinkedIn is a great way to concretize those connections. So, I've used it less for prospecting-type networking and more for solidifying those ephemeral connections more quickly." 
Charity West - "Social media has been fantastic. I've been able to start a social media blitz called 'Really in Maine,' which has a lot of followers, and it connects everything that's going on in the state."

Tracy Eames - " I'm really new to Portland, so social media has been a great tool to connect with groups like 2 Degrees and meet some new people around the city."

2 Degrees Portland, a program of Creative Portland, connects people who want to live and work in the city with those who already do. We help creators, innovators, entrepreneurs, and thinkers meet their peers, whether they've lived here for years, are new to town, or are considering a move. Through events we get to know each other and discuss ideas to help keep our community vibrant. You can find 2 Degrees Portland on Facebook at 2degreesportland

Creative Portland was founded by Portland City Council to grow and support the creative economy. Major programs include 2 Degrees Portland, LiveWork Portland, and First Friday Art Walk. Learn more at You can also find Creative Portland on Facebook at LiveWorkPortland


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Social media has changed the way that many of us learn, purchase, interact and explore the world around us. And, things are just getting started. Social, Social is a place to discuss social media with people from all walks of life. No experts allowed.

About the Author

Rob works as a digital marketing & public relations consultant to agencies, brands, and individuals. He has 20 years of marketing experience. He also currently serves in a volunteer capacity as director of pr/communications for TEDxDirigo. From 2005-2011, Rob served as director of social media & agency communications at The VIA Agency (Portland). Prior to VIA, Rob worked with several PR & advertising agencies in London & Boston. He is a graduate of The University of Vermont (UVM) and a Maine transplant (2002).

Follow Rob on Twitter at @bobbbyg

His real-life interests include art, travel, writing, design, psychology, the beach, & exercise (grudgingly at times).

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