How many times have you heard someone tell you:
It’s not what you know, it’s who you know!
And then how many times have you felt extremely awkward at networking events trying to get a job? I will proudly throw both my arms up for this one! If you thought that networking in the “real world” was awkward and uncomfortable, networking in the “online world” is just as much that and more. But, it’s true what they say. It doesn’t matter so much about what you know, unless everyone else knows about the things you know. What? Let’s rewind a bit.
Blog networking online and in real life (IRL) is a real thing! Networking doesn’t need to be sleazy or awkward. It can actually be a lot of fun, especially when you’re surrounded by people who really get you!
Since I started blogging, I’ve always wanted a Blogging BFF. It’s hard to find one when you shout it out into the world wide web and wait for one to magically appear. That’s not how finding a best friend works, is it. After moving home, I made it a priority to meet more bloggers and creatives in my area. Who would have thought that there were so many of us around here, and I didn’t know any of them! In today’s day and age, the internet can be a great tool to find like-minded people. This could mean finding travel bloggers, lifestyle bloggers, or anything else not related to blogging! I’m going to be honest and tell y’all that I stalked through a hashtag on Instagram to find similar bloggers in the area. That’s normal, right?
As I started to connect with more and more bloggers online and building actual relationships with them, I wanted to venture out into “the real world” and meet more people! In the past few months, I’ve attended plenty of networking events such as:
- The Blog Connect in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Bubbles & Bloggers – for bloggers in the DMV area
- Always Creating Brunch – hosted by Always Creating Studio for bloggers in the DMV area
- WERQshop: Fun Mail – with Elise Crawford from Ringlet Studio hosted by Bureau Studio
For a lot of these events, I showed up alone, without knowing anyone. Most of the time I felt extremely nervous because I had no idea how to put myself out there, I didn’t know if I would connect with people, and what do bloggers even talk about in real life? Each event that I attended, I felt more and more in my element. There’s something about meeting people who REALLY get you! I no longer felt weird that I was the only one in my friend’s group that would know someone’s Instagram handle before their first name. Hah, oops?
Let me first start off by saying that networking online is a real thing. The great thing about the internet is that it can connect you to people from all over the world. It makes it seem like you’re getting to know someone, all the while they’re living their life an ocean away from you! I love social media for that sole reason! Of course there are pitfalls to social media, that will need to be addressed in a completely different post; but it can also open doors to great connection. How exactly do you network with other bloggers or people online? These are some of the ways that have worked for me:
- Follow them on their social media channels (ie: Instagram or Facebook)
- Connect with their content
- Reaching out to them for collaborations
- Supporting one another for the highs and the lows
When I say networking event, what pops into your mind first? Are you thinking awkward career fairs trying to hand out your resume for a future job? Do you think of suits and awkward small talk? Or are you cynical like me and think about a large room of people who just want something and don’t care to make real connection. Let me know in the comments below if you’re just as cynical as I am (guilty)! Networking IRL definitely doesn’t need to be like that. Sure, when you say networking, it really is getting to know people and hopefully building and maintaining a relationship that will benefit you both in the future. When I’m “blog networking”, I never think about what other bloggers can do for me; I’m just looking for my long lost blogging BFF! Y’all, I’m being serious, if you want to be a blogging BFF, email me. Here are my tips for networking IRL without making it sleazy and gross, and not being a cynic:
- Introduce yourself first (especially if you feel awkward)
- Firm handshakes!
- The question ratio should be 2:1 (two questions about them, and one thing about you)
- If you’re bored and really uninterested in something (or just not connecting with this person) politely excuse yourself from the conversation and introduce yourself to someone else
- Follow up afterwards!
Trying to build an online business or living life as a creative entrepreneur is extremely lonely sometimes. There have been many moments when I’ve felt extremely secluded and ridden with insecurities and lots of anxiety. One thing that has really helped me feel less lonely while navigating through entrepreneurship or social media, has been building a community. I was just talking to a fellow creative entrepreneur friend the other day, and “building a community” seems to be like the hot words right now. I mean, how many times have you heard “FIND YOUR TRIBE!” emblazoned somewhere on social media?
But, you don’t need to join every community or every tribe out there. Trust me, that’s what I did. I joined all the Facebook groups I could find, Instagram pods to increase engagement, and Facebook comment pods to also increase engagement. While for a time I really enjoyed commenting and getting to know some of the people behind the accounts and finding like-minded people, I sometimes felt like it was more forced than anything. So, I left all those Facebook groups I joined that didn’t serve me and the comment pods that sucked up a lot of my time. The only way I thought to build my own community was to start connecting with people that I genuinely wanted to get to know better.
Building a community sounds like an extremely daunting task. Start small, and connect with a few people first, then start reaching out to them more for collaborations or just to chat. One thing I’ve loved is having virtual coffee chats with other creatives and listening to their ideas and getting to know them better! A community is built on real relationships and connection, and your community doesn’t need to be big, you only need a few good people in there that share a similar message!
From the wise words of my mom, she’s always told me that it never mattered how many friends I had. What really mattered was my relationship with those friends.
What tips do you have for networking online and IRL? What about building a community? Share in the comments below!
Looking for a little more community? Join the Fierce Divas Taking Action Facebook group by The Quirky Pineapple!