Serendipity: LinkedIn brings unexpected gifts

social media brings unexpected giftsWhat do you use social media for?

Work, right?

To network, promote your business, your brand, find prospects, connect with far-flung colleagues and all that good stuff.

And so do I.

 Your professional life is the main reason you’re out there and maintain your profiles.

Surprise: the benefits can be personal too

Saturday morning, smack in the middle of an SFT workshop in Paris, my cell phone rang. Whoops, I’d forgotten to put it in silent mode. I rejected the call, of course.

I listened to the message on the bus going home and just about fell off my seat. The message said:

Hello Patricia, my name is so and so, and if your grandmother’s name was X,
your father’s Y and your mother’s Z, then I am your cousin once removed.

Say what? I had no clue I had family on my father’s side. He was an only child and everyone, save me, is gone.

Perplexed and doubtful, I called back

I got home, made myself a cup of coffee and paced around a bit. I turned on my computer and Googled his name.

The searched turned up 9 people, none of whom seemed to fit. I tried other search combinations, but came up dry.

My curiosity meter hit the red zone and I dialed the number, ready to put this guy through the third degree. Crank calls and spam are often the down side of being present on the Web.

Turns out I didn’t need to. He’s legit.

In sorting through family papers, he found letters from my grandmother and my father, some which spoke specifically about me when I was a baby or toddler, as well as some old pictures. He wondered if I was around and how to find me. So he asked his daughter to look on the Internet, she found a listing on LinkedIn, he saw the references to Vietnam, put two and two together and called.

Thank you, LinkedIn

We had a wonderful chat, we’ll meet up soon and he’ll give me copies of everything he found. And as we talked, a few deeply buried and long-forgotten hints of names came back to mind. I was tiny and we lived on the other side of the globe when my dad died, and then moved to the US. I remember my grandmother having a sister, but nothing more. Family in France was all on my mother’s side. Or so I thought.

Turns out I had met my mysterious little cousin once, in Paris, when I was barely three years old; he says I told him in English his “petit train” is called a choo-choo train, but I don’t remember. He also said I broke it, which is the only part of the stories he told me on the phone I seriously question! I do remember that one of my favorite books at the time was The Little Engine that Could. I still often mutter to myself “I think I can, I think I can…”

Serendipity

Serendipity can grace your life in many ways. If you’re open to it. I’m glad I returned the call, I almost didn’t. My mind was on guard and cautious. A little voice inside urged “take the chance, it’s good.”

This was about the last thing I expected LinkedIn to bring me, and certainly not why I’ve got a profile. But what a gift!

And I just wanted to share that thrill with you: the virtual world can be a precious path into making your own history come alive.

 

 

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Comments: 8

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  • What a lovely story! Et puis tout de même, serendipity est l’un des plus jolis mots qui existent… :-)

     
     
     
  • Oui, j’adore ce mot, il a une telle énergie, un tel optimisme !
    Et oui, cette histoire m’a bien bouleversée, j’en avais les larmes aux yeux…Je trépigne d’impatience maintenant !

     
     
     
  • En effet, quelle belle histoire ! Je suis heureuse pour toi !

     
     
     
  • I would say that is a pretty unique, amazing pay-off for your hard work keeping up your social media! So have you been able to meet up yet? Do tell us how things go…
    In the meantime, I think it is a pretty good reminder to google my name from time to time, just to see what I may “look” like to potential clients ;-)

     
     
     
    • Hi Nadia,
      No, we haven’t met up yet. Our respective (bleep) schedules are interfering and I’m getting impatient! I inherited my mom’s interest in genealogy and I’d like to add this branch to the tree. Not to mention read letters half a century old and more that I didn’t know existed. I’m feeling like a kid who keeps being told Christmas is another week away. I’ll update when we’ve connected!

       
  • Update!

    Today, three weeks on the nose after Serendipity (with a capital!) struck, we met for lunch. He spotted me from far away as I look very much like my mother. And within two minutes, any anxiety I’d felt (Would I like the guy? Would we speak easily? Would we have other things in common?) melted away. Synchronicity followed Serendipity. What luck!

    Our conversation moved all over the place, and we’ll have to have many more before all the topics started and questions asked find responses. He handed me a first batch of letters and is working on making copies of old pictures. I should be meeting his family soon.

    Too cool… I’m thrilled!

     
     
     
  • Patricia,
    Thanks for sharing such a heartwarming story. As Nadia said, you’ve made so many online contributions, and now something totally unexpected has come back to you.

     
     
     
  • Again (but still so true): I’m really happy for you! Thanks for sharing this experience.

     
     
     
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