A little over a week ago I had the privilege to meet a Twitter friend of mine for dinner while he was in Chicago. I now know him as Terrill but most of you may know him as @terrillific on Twitter. We had exchanged tweets some over the past several months and since he was in the city for a conference we thought "might as well meet in person."

It was a good dinner conversation and it was interesting learning a lot from him, what he had picked up from meetings at his conference and more about his improv life. Obviously a healthy majority of the conversation did revolve around social media initially, since that was how we knew each other. Later on in the meal he asked me a question:

"So what's your goal with this whole social media thing?"

To be honest nobody had really asked me that before. Sure I manage corporate social media strategy execution and those efforts definitely have a clear goal and purpose in place. I am a huge supporter of having a clear strategy before dipping your toe in setting up social media accounts for a business. However, I had never really set up real goals for myself.

Was it to drive more traffic?

Was it to make more money blogging?

Did I want a million Twitter followers to stake claim on my 15 minutes of fame?

Initially, all of those things had probably appealed to me. I have set out to accomplish some of those goals. After seeing how so many people have succeeded with blogging, it's easy to get caught up in wanting a piece of that pie. It's not a bad thing to aspire to either! Social media is a great way to accomplish a lot. Ironically though, for me anyway, it was when I quit being so numbers driven and became more relationship driven that I really saw results.

My goals have shifted a lot in the past few months. I have been more caught up in conversing with other people via Twitter and blog comments. Truth is, I've learned a lot and have created a lot of good relationships along the way. There's so much knowledge out there from other people besides myself that I've been so caught up in the learning and sharing that the numbers have not mattered as much to me.

Despite that, those numbers have grown. Social media is about unselfish marketing. Making it not so much about me and other people. It's not something that just applies to your online presence - to life in general. Putting others first in anything will reap much richer dividends (not talking purely financial here) than looking out for number one. So what do I want out of social media? I want to continue learning, continue connecting and helping other people out along the way. Even having other days where I finally connect personally with someone like I did with Terrill and get to know other cool people like him.

Thanks Terrill for putting that question in my head. It took several miles of running to really come up with a clear answer.

So what's your purpose on social media?