The meeting took place in a Starbucks in Stamford. Suzanne listened to me explain what I wanted to accomplish.
"You're really going to need to have a greater presence on social media," she said.
"What's social media?" I asked.
I was never what you'd call an early adopter. Honestly? When email was first introduced, I secretly hoped I'd die before it became absolutely necessary for me to learn how to make an attachment.
In 2008, I was teaching a course in column writing. The director of the workshop asked me to include blogging in my curriculum.
"I've never written a blog," I said. "I've never read a blog. And I don't ever want to."
All of a sudden, her accent turned Germanic. "You vill teach blogging!"
And that, I suppose -- though I don't think we were actually using the term back then -- was my traumatic entry into the world of social media.
Ironically, a couple of years after being forced kicking and screaming into blogging, I found myself the co-author of "Old School, New School." My youngest son Robby and I had been in the habit of trading wisecracks and trash talk about all things sports, and one bright day we thought we'd treat the public to our witty repartee by starting a blog. Of course, Robby lost interest almost instantly, and my Old School was left without any New School to parry.
But I'd been bitten by the blog bug. Fortunately, even before OSNS bit the dust, I'd started a blog of my own called "Beagle Man." Regular readers of this column are well aware of how I feel about my dog, Ricky the Beagle. You know that every September, Ricky and I -- just the two of us -- take a road trip across the country and back. Well, here was an opportunity for me to think about my dog, take pictures of my dog, tell stories about my dog -- all the time. And to be able to "publish" them instantaneously. And to have them read by people who ostensibly care. And to get amazing feedback.
I showed some of this feedback to Robby:
You should take part in a contest for one of the best blogs on the web -- from a follower called "Where to Get a Homecoming Dress."
I truly appreciate your piece of work -- from "Making Use of Silk Flowers For Your Wedding Ceremony."
"That's not feedback," Robby told me. "That's spam."
Oh. But still, I had really been sucked into this blogging thing -- and this is why I had engaged Suzanne -- to help get me a wider audience for Beagle Man.
First, she helped me build a cool website -- hankherman.com (Check it out). Next, she talked me into getting on Facebook. Actually, not just one account, but two -- one for Beagle Man, and a personal page for Hank Herman as well.
So far, so good. Then she said I had to open a Twitter account.
From the first time I'd heard of Twitter, I thought it was the height of idiocy. "I'm at the corner of 33rd and Eighth, about to enter Local West." The world has to know this? Now she was pushing things too far. Me, tweet? Over my dead body.
But Suzanne has her ways -- and @BeagleManHank was born. Now I no longer needed to wait till I had the time to write a full-blown blog post. I could tweet out a remark or a question or a photo in a matter of seconds. And I could jump into the middle of arguments between total strangers:
WillFrasure: Love dogs but beagles are like my least favorite ever.
Socarolinesays: Beagles are the best.
BeagleManHank: Beagles rule. End of discussion.
Socarolinesays: He gets it.
Such fun. I was hooked. So much so that I opened a second Twitter account: @JulioH125 (Don't ask). I was going to start trading inane quips with Robby and all his college-age friends.
This would be awesome. From the guy who didn't know what a blog was, I was now becoming a master of the social media universe.
"You might not want to do that," Robby warned.
"Why not?" I asked.
"Nobody uses Twitter anymore," he said. "Now it's all Instagram."
Hank Herman is a Westport writer, and his "The Home Team" appears every other Friday. You can also keep up with his blogs -- "Beagle Man" on the Westport News website at: http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman/; and "Old School, New School" on the Hearst website at: http://blog.ctnews.com/oldschoolnewschool.