Everyone’s talking about “Building your Online Community” and influence all over creation. I’ve talked about it myself. But does anyone ever tell you the HOW TO’s? How does that work if you are naturally shy? Good of you to ask!
It actually is great if you’re a little on the shy side because though networking online or off may be similar, you can sort of hide behind the computer and talk to folks through the keyboard as opposed to a little face-to-face action (unless you’re Skying or hanging out on Google+).
In fact, I prefer it. I always feel so uncomfortable networking IRL (in real life) because I tend to be a little on the timid side when first meeting and blow that outta the water after we’ve conversed awhile. I know, you find that hard to believe but it’s the gosh dang truth. However, both networking IRL and online are needed to build your community, further your business and get the word out or to help others do the same. It takes interacting with others and it makes the world go round as apposed to playing jacks in a corner somewhere by yourself.
When working your way through the online world and connecting with others it’s a good rule of thumb to follow others and especially influencers in your space who have been plowing ground and making headway. And sometimes following those influencers, connecting with them on Facebook and across different social platforms can be a little intimidating to say the least. Sometimes it takes bawls of steel to hit the “friend button” on Facebook for fear of rejection or whatever.
Here’s how I developed my strategy.
- Follow the experts – I researched who the influencers were in my space. I studied where were they writing, who were they connected with, how were they connecting, what were they talking about? If there are folks doing it right, figure out what they’re doing that’s working. Now, apply that to your strategy – and I don’t necessarily mean copy them. But you can learn from them, follow some of the same folks they follow and who follow them and go from there to find your own voice.
- Find one platform, do that well! – I started with Twitter. I read every book I could find on Twitter, figured out the ins and outs and then began to start practicing what I learned. I searched hashtags and sat in on Twitter chats and watched what was going on. Then I connected with those folks who were “experts” for lack of a better word, and followed them, following their followers etc, etc. I started reading their blogs, commenting on them, showing my face in their world while sharing my own blog and my area of expertise.
- Cross-pollinate – I love the word cross-pollinate because to me that represents the best way to take your connections on one platform over to another platform. I began with my connections on Twitter that I was following, engaging with and learning from and finding them on Linked In and sending a short intro like “I’m bringing this on over from Twitter and would love to link up!” And most of them accepted my request. I built my Linked In with several these same folks from Twitter. Then I started doing the same with Facebook. All of these platforms have their own feel and what I found was Facebook was very laid back where Linked In was more business chatter. I started learning about their kids, families, what they loved doing through Facebook and it created a great way to connect on a more personal basis. Twitter was a land all it’s own but very short, sweet and to the point and definitely serves a purpose. (NOTE: if you don’t want to mix personal and professional you don’t have to, but it can be a great way to dive deeper into these relationships you’re trying to build).
I will say I had some major kahuna’s to connect with the folks I’ve connected with – but I’ve always had those (not literally). But you never know until you try and reach out and touch someone, right?
What happens when you do this? You become part of some really amazing communities. You have the chance to perhaps even be considered a thought leader yourself and have the opportunity to advance your business, find a new career and help others do the same.
So grow some bawls, reach and connect with others. Learn from them and give back by liking their posts, commenting on their blogs, and simply engaging with them. There are some fantastic folks out there just waiting to show you the ropes!
Photo Credit: BevNet