Let me start by saying I have a blogging network. I was lucky enough to partner with two amazing women a few years ago to start what would become a network of over 400 of the most awesome bloggers I know. Now I run it with my partner Melissa. It’s been everything I always wanted in a networking situation… but when I couldn’t find the right type of networking situation I wanted, I realized that I had to be part of the creation of it. Now, there are tons of networks out there to be a part of, and there really is something for everyone, but it isn’t always easy finding them… or joining them… or really benefiting from them.
So here are my tips for becoming part of a real networking group that is actually going to benefit you, your blog, and your goals.
1. Find like-minded people. It sounds simple, but this is the hardest part. Be really clear about what you want to get out of joining a networking group: meeting friends, meeting potential clients, getting business opportunities, being educated, etc. Some groups are strictly for helping you grow your blog following. Some groups are for a particular blog niche. There is nothing wrong with belonging to several groups for different reasons.
2. You have to give in order to get. Networking is NOT a one-way street. If you want to get something out of the group, you are going to have to jump in and participate. Comment, re-tweet, share your story. Like everything in life, you will get out of it what you put into it.
3. Know when to drop out. I can’t even tell you how many blog networks I’m in. Too many. The trick is to narrow it down to a few that are really driving your goals. Thinking more is better isn’t going to get you further along. Being “on a list” somewhere probably is going to end up doing you more harm than good. Nobody wants to interact with a name… they want to interact with a person.
4. Make it personal. Aside from just being a participant in an online group, make a point of actually going to in-person events. Meet your network in the flesh. You will pretty quickly realize if this is the right group for you… do you get along with the other people? Do they make you feel comfortable? Knowing people online and knowing people IRL (in real life) are two completely different things.
5. Be real and be nice. Don’t pretend you are something you’re not. It never works in your favor. People in most network groups are genuinely looking for other people to meet and work with. You never know who is going to end up giving you your next lead, job or opportunity. Open yourself up to meeting everyone and don’t burn your bridges. When opportunities arise, people will usually pass those along to their networking groups first… especially the people who are available, pleasant and have contributed to the group.
Still wondering which groups to join? Consider joining at least 2 really good groups: a local network and a niche network. If you need suggestions, please feel free to email me or leave me a comment. I’d be happy to help you find a networking group to try out.
If you are a blogger in Southern California, consider joining SoCal Lady Bloggers. We’re pretty awesome!