Ever heard of a woman named Mary Mallon? Probably not. But if I said “Typhoid Mary” that might trigger some recognition. Mary Mallon was the index case for typhoid in the US in the early 1900s. She was a healthy carrier of the disease and spread it to at least 53 people before she was forcibly quarantined. Mary Mallon was the American typhoid epidemic’s Patient Zero.
For me, Allan Schoenberg played a similar role, but without the fever and malaise. I consider him to be my Twitter index case. (Stick with me here.)
I spent the first several months on Twitter not doing much. I followed a few people I knew from “real life” and a few who were into Georgia football. I didn’t even really think of it a professional networking medium at the onset. At some point, though, I caught the Twitter bug and from that point things changed dramatically. And I can trace that moment back to Allan.
It was about this time last year when I was working on putting together a photo book of pictures from my trip to Iceland. I tweeted about it and got a random @ reply from Allan commenting on how great Iceland was and how much he loved it when he had visited earlier in the year. I followed him back and checked out his profile, where I saw that he had a pretty sweet job as director of communications for CME Group. We continued to chat via Twitter throughout the next few weeks about everything from movies to beer (good beer) to the economic situation in Iceland.
Allan was my conduit to the Twitter PR and communications world. Recognizing that he was pretty interesting guy with an interesting job in my field, I figured that I’d probably enjoy following some of his other Twitter pals. I began looking to see who he was following and unabashedly started poaching his network. This led me to people like Mike Pilarz, Arik Hanson, Matt Batt and Lauren Fernandez. They led me to others like David Mullen, Kellye Crane, Chuck Hemann and Scott Hepburn. And it just kept proliferating.
Today, I consider Allan and that initial group tops among my trusted colleagues, confidants and advisors. In the year since that first tweet about Iceland, I’ve started this blog and my consulting business, founded Social Media Breakfast Tech Valley, and forged what I consider to be lifelong friendships as well as professional alliances with people from Twitter. I’ve had the opportunity to meet most of my closest Twitter friends in person, despite the fact that they all live in far-flung places. Allan even got me a tour of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange when I was visited last spring.
So in the spirit of those Bud Light “Real Men of Genius” ads (though Allan would rightly never drink Bud Light):
I salute you, Mr. Twitter Uber-connector Index Case of Networking Genius Guy. Thanks.
Whose your Twitter Patient Zero?