Helping Our Friends in Japan by Tapping the Hidden Value of Your Social Network

From 1995-1996, my wife and I spent a year teaching English in Japan.  We taught children as young as three, business owners and even some adults in their nineties.  We were invited into the homes of many of our students and developed friendships.  Although it’s been over 15 years, we still stay in touch with a few of our students via snail mail.  As a result, today’s tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan really struck a chord with us.

Blase Ciabaton with students in JapanHow can I help? As I turned on my laptop this morning and picked up what was happening via Twitter and other social media outlets, I couldn’t stop wondering what I could do to help.  Then an amazing thing started to happen; in the span of just a few hours, friends started sharing links to charitable organizations that were directly involved with supporting the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

When I’m not blogging, I’m helping people execute direct mail campaigns.  Some of my most loyal Blase and Dayanna at the Golden Templeclients are nonprofits.  Many of my peers working in the nonprofit community are very tuned in to disaster relief and mobile giving so it’s no surprise that these friends were some of the first to share information on how to help.  Not only did I appreciate their recommendations, but since I had already developed relationships with them, I trusted them.

Would you like to help? I’m writing this post in hopes that you’ll share it with your friends, or consider following one of the links and making a donation.  If you’re looking for a super-convenient way to make a text donation, then you’ll want to take a look at a post from my friend, Karen Zapp, who lists 4 quick ways to accomplish this.

My friends at The Network for Good list over a dozen organizations on their page dedicated to helping the survivors in Japan.  They make it exceptionally easy to donate to any of the listed organizations by including a unique “donate” button for each, and if you don’t want to pick just one, you can click a single button to donate to all of them.

Blase and Dayanna in traditional Japanese attireAnother Twitter friend shared a link to a Huffington Post article which identifies charities that are launching campaigns specifically designed to help the earthquake victims in Japan.

As a blogger, one of the easiest ways that you can help the quake victims is to identify your favorite charity and add a Hello Bar to the top of your blog.   It’s completely free and it took me less than 10 minutes to set up and paste the code into my blog.  It keeps the rest of your blog completely intact, and just adds a customizable call to action and link across the top.

Finally, by following conversations at the SWSX conference, I discovered a simple way to set up my own donation page to support the victims of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan.  You can click here to make a secure online donation to the American Red Cross team, or to quickly create your own donation page.

What’s your social network worth? As business bloggers, we all know that real currency equates to getting paid, but today I was reminded of the many intangible benefits of building a strong social media network.  Today, my social network and blogging community quickly helped me answer the question “How can I help?”

When I step back and try to assess the value of my social network, I can list dozens of other examples of value that I received from my social network.  I’ve found solutions to business problems that I could have never solved on my own, I’ve learned about new technology that I didn’t know existed and I’ve been fortunate enough to receive referrals from friends in my social network.  Although no dollars and cents were exchanged in these examples, without a doubt value was provided.

In the comments section below, I hope you’ll share some of the intangible benefits of blogging and social networking, and by the way please take a moment to help our brothers and sisters in Japan by adding a Hello Bar to your blog, sharing this post or making a contribution to one of the organizations poised to help the earthquake and tsunami victims.  Thank you!