Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Wendy Harman, Social Media Maven: How I Have Fun, Do Good

The second guest blogger in my Have Fun, Do Good series is Wendy Harman.

Wendy is a listener, innovator, online community member, information synthesizer, big picture thinker, and Director of Social Media for the American Red Cross.

You can connect with her on Twitter at @wharman

Wendy Harman, Social Media Maven, How I Have Fun, Do Good

I am the luckiest. I get to have fun and do good for a living. I spend my time experimenting with social tools to help the American public prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. Well, emergencies aren’t fun, but rolling up my sleeves with a huge network of good-hearted people to find the hopeful moments within them sure is. This type of having fun and doing good I expected when I accepted my job, but it has been more rewarding than I imagined.

Red Crossers Jenny Brennan,
Wendy Harman, and Seth Spiro checking Twitter
and other social media in the Disaster Operations Center in Washington, DC
Photo by American Red Cross.
What I did not expect was the camaraderie and collaboration I’ve found in the whole nonprofit sector. What an interesting, passionate, smart, and fun-loving group you all are. Thank you for letting me be part of this community.

@digitalsista, @wharman & @sokunthea. Photo by Geoff Livingston.

Preparedness is a big part of the mission of the Red Cross. While it can be a gloomy topic, I prefer to take a fun approach to being prepared. For instance, we know that connected communities fare better in emergency situations than ones who don’t know each other, so I make a big effort in my spare time to get to know my neighbors. Not in a “let’s meet to discuss what we’ll do in a catastrophic situation,” but through block parties, dog meetups, contact information sharing, and general friendliness. I’ve made true friends this way and I know we’ll take care of each other should we have an emergency.

It really paid off during the snowstorms we had in DC last year – we all checked on each other each day, shared shovels, food, toilet paper, and fun. We were lucky not to lose power for too long, so I ended up having the time of my life because I knew I was safe and had a supportive community.

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