Your mentors. Those who inspire you. Those you brainstorm with, bounce ideas off of. Those who support you. Are they co-located with you? Do they work and live in the same city as you? Depending on where you live and what industry you're in, your support network may be geolocated and consist of people you've never met in person. Finding them requires you go online.
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to take a few online engagements offline. The three interactions -- a tea with fellow Blogging Your Way classmates, a lunch with a fellow #Kloutchat participant at Klout, and a reading of Rene Redzepi's new book -- got me thinking about how we develop supportive networks.
Where do you start finding people with similar interests that you could meet offline? For me, I started by taking eCourses where students were able to (and encouraged to) interact, joining Facebook groups, and by participating in Twitter chats that focus on your passions. This is the first in a three-part series about networking. Today I talk about how to find tribe members through Twitter chats.
How to Use Twitter to Find Tribe Members
- Find a Twitter Chat that covers topics you're passionate about. Check out TweetReports for an extensive list of Twitter chats.
- Observe potential Twitter Chats to get a feel for who participates and how the conversation goes. You can search for the hashtag and view Tweets from previous chats or you can monitor a live one. Before I jump into a Twitter chat, I typically lurk for a little while until I get a feel for whether or not there's a natural fit between the group/chat and my interests.
- Select groups/chats where you can be yourself. If you can't be authentic, there's no point in trying to develop online connections for future offline engagements. You'll come across as fake or worse a marketing shill.
- After the Twitter Chat, follow those you've engaged with. Don't just follow on Twitter and forget them. Check out their blog or website and get to know them.
- Continue engaging. The key to developing online relationships that can transition offline is keeping it real. Provide meaningful comments if a blog post resonates with you. Answer questions they pose. Start getting to know them--and letting them get to know you.
Groups and Chats for Creatives and BloggersHere are some of the groups and Twitter chats that I'm involved with.
- Blogging It Forward Facebook Group. Originally started by Mindy Marzec as a website with forum for finding mentors and/or mentoring other bloggers, Blogging It Forward, now has a Facebook group. I find the Facebook group easier to connect with as I'm in Facebook daily and I don't always remember to login to the website/forum to see what fellow bloggers are up to. The Facebook group has recently focused on increasing the reach of members' content.
- #BlogTrends Twitter Chat. Blog Trends is where bloggers come to connect and grow. Every Monday night from 6:00PM to 7:00PM PST bloggers meet to discuss fashion, beauty, and lifestyle blogging. If you're unable to attend the chats, they often provide transcripts.
- #AltChat Twitter Chat. If you're a creative, you'll want to join makers, bloggers, and other creatives every Wednesday from 9:00AM to 11:00AM PST for #AltChat hosted by Alt Summit. Unlike other Twitter chats, you'll want to follow the #AltChat thread throughout the day as people drop in and out. Most of your conversations will take place when the chat is live, but opportunities for deeper discussions and offline collaboration are more likely to occur when the stream settles down a little.
- #SITSBlogging and #SITSSharefest Twitter Chats. The #SITSBlogging Twitter chat moves quickly as it's only half an hour long. It's hosted by the SITS Girls: Where Women Get Social every Wednesday from 10:00AM to 10:30AM PST. The #SITSSharefest has a slower pace and is hosted every Saturday from 7:00AM to 8:00AM PST. It's less structured and gives bloggers the opportunity to give one of their posts a little Twitter love. You're able to share one of your posts with the community on their blog. (Update 6/5/2014: The #SITSBlogging Twitter Chat no longer appears to be happening.)
- #KloutChat Twitter Chat. If you're interested in meeting other people with interests in content marketing, online influence, and social media, join the monthly #KloutChat held on Twitter the first Thursday of every month from 11:00AM PST to 12:00PM PST. The next #KloutChat is this Thursday. November's chat (the first after a multi-year hiatus) was about compelling content -- what it is and how to measure its effectiveness. Sahana summarized the main three tips that participants surfaced.
- #BlogBrunch Twitter Chat. This chat is held the first Saturday of every month from 10:00AM to 11:00AM PST for "bloggers wanting to share, dream, and learn with other creatives in the blogging community." The organizers of Blog Brunch share the topic as well as five questions about it ahead of time. (They recap highlights from the chat on their blog.) The benefits of knowing the questions for a given topic early is that you can optimize your responses (140 characters less your Twitter handle for encouraging Retweets requires you to choose words carefully for impact) and you can focus on connecting with other bloggers. NOTE: If you're not going to be around for the chat, simply scheduling your Tweets and not participating is of little value. It's best to be live for some of the chat and if multi-tasking let your fellow participants know. (Update 6/5/2014: The #BlogBrunch Twitter Chat no longer appears to be happening.)
What Facebook Groups and Twitter Chats have you found helpful?
Many of my collaborations came out of connections I made through a Twitter chat, for example, I met Kristin of Ruskin Papercrafts and contributed to her Find Your Voice Workshop after a BlogBrunch chat. I can trace other collaborations back to an eCourse, Blogging Your Way, I took and the relationships that developed out of it. I'll talk about finding classes and workshops where potential tribe members may be lurking in the next installment of Networking 101.
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Credits: All layouts designed by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life. All photographs taken by Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit SF, sponsored by Atly.