January 14, 2013

Society Notebook: Facebook to Face

Social media friends like the chance to mingle in person.


"Nothing can replace face-to-face contact -- nothing," Adam Dawes said at a Facebook Maine mixer at Spread in Portland on Wednesday.

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April Powell, a nutrition educator with InviteAbitE; Adam Dawes, a learning development specialist at Fairchild Semiconductor; and Ralph Debay, who works at Siemans as well as with Share Our Strength.

Photos by Amy Paradysz

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Robert Barnes, an infomercial producer; Greg Daly, a creative director; and Dragos Stancu, a web designer.

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SEND PARTY INVITES at least two weeks in advance to Wendy Almeida, Maine Sunday Telegram, One City Center, Portland, ME 04101 or wea@mainetoday.com.

That's exactly what Facebook Maine's organizers -- Frank and Karla McMahon and Rebecca Daigle -- had in mind. While they were out to dinner one night a couple years ago, chatting about Facebook, friends, and events, they came up with the idea to create a Facebook Maine group and mixers -- an opportunity for Facebook friends to get together for drinks, conversation and informal networking several times a year.

Michele Cyr said that Facebook Maine events helped her to get to know more people and develop business contacts after she moved back to the area last year. "Actually, you become Facebook friends first, and it grows from there," she said.

Andrea Beaudoin, a mindset coach, appreciates having a networking option that is more upscale, in trendy locations, and not all business. Facebook Maine participants been able to check out hotspots such as RiRa, Port City Music Hall, Plush West End, and Havana South. There's no cover, no requirements -- just a Facebook invite to meet a bar that is anticipating a crowd of 60 or more wearing nametags.

"It's for people who might only know each online and want to meet in person," said Nathan O'Leary, owner and CEO of Mainely SEO and the man behind the Portland Old Port website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. "I use this type of event to get new clients, potentially."

"I can see people who I talk to every day, but see them in the flesh," said Robert Barnes, an infomercial producer who has been coming to Facebook Maine events since they started. "I live my life out loud on Facebook. Everybody knows where I am, where I eat, what color socks my kid wore to school."

In fact, he had just checked in on Foursquare, which is linked to his Facebook account.

"We meet so many people in life. In the past, when a friend or coworker moved away, it was all too easy to lose track of them. You didn't mean to, but that's how it was," said event organizer Rebecca Daigle. "With Facebook, it's so easy to stay connected, no matter the geography. You can keep up with the people you like and care about, whether they are in Portland, Maine, or Sydney, Australia."

Or you can meet on Facebook based on geography alone -- as is the case with Facebook Maine members. The group is open to all Mainers, though it tends to attract entrepreneurs, creative types and social media junkies.

"It's a small city," said Jaime Richards, a nanny who attends lots of community events and seems to know everyone. "We should get to know each other."

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer from Scarborough who found this society columnist gig via Facebook.


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Additional Photos

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Facebook Maine regulars Gwen Tuttle, a social worker and standup comedian; Nathan O’Leary, owner and CEO of Mainely SEO; Lila Hunt, the newest Mainely SEO employee; and Seth Storey, a web strategist with Ibec Creative attend the mixer held recently at Spread in Portland.

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Marni Sienko of Marni Lyn Photography, and Came Buch of Buch Design & Illustration, both at their first Facebook Maine event.

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Dana Earls, a mortgage and real estate broker, and Jaime Richards, a nanny and frequent networker.

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