Networking Online: Spoiler: Be A Nice Person
For many content creators, our strength lies in the creative process. As the lifeblood to our brand presence and our communities, the act of creating, making, or broadcasting is central to what we do – and rightfully so. But it’s the amplification and awareness of what we do that can take our creative efforts to the next level. One of the most effective ways to do that is by building a meaningful community through networking online.
“Networking” is considered to be a bit of a cringe-worthy word for many of us, conjuring up images of awkward social situations, stick-on name tags, and clammy handshakes – but it doesn’t have to be. The prospect of networking becomes much more palatable when you choose to look at it through the lens of just getting to know people and making friends. The important thing is making real relationships.
People often take a ‘shotgun’ approach to try to network with everyone all at once, with things like quick comments and likes on any and all social-media updates. While those type of actions are appreciated, they don’t really move the needle by themselves. Instead, it’s important to clearly identify the people you want to have a relationship with and go out of your way to connect with those specific people. This could be someone you admire or who is at a place in their career that you would like to get to, a peer that you want to partner or build with, or even someone whose presence inspires or energizes you. Regardless of the reason, be selective on the type of people you surround yourself with and focus on quality over quantity.
Make an intentional effort to really get to know the people who you are hoping to make a connection with. Being familiar with their work and interacting with them with discussions about their content on social media is a great way to open the door to more personal conversation. Understanding more about this person will help you find your commonalities and will also give you opportunities to allow them to get to know you a bit better too.
Once you better understand a person and have a sense of what they are trying to accomplish, showing your support is one of the most effective ways to build your relationship. While this is dependent on the medium, do your best to engage with whatever they are creating. Respond to their social updates, watch their videos/streams, be an active and positive member of their community (this is a big one), share their announcements, champion their success, provide feedback, ask questions, or anything else that shows them that what they are doing/creating is appreciated and valued – because it is! The most valuable thing you can give a content creator is your time and attention.
Offer to Help
It’s likely that there’s something you’re particularly good at. It may not seem special to you, but chances are you have a more refined skill that others only wish they had. Maybe you’re social-media savvy, an aspiring graphic designer, tech expert, or a video editor? Whatever “it” is, you probably have a talent that you can help others with. If you see someone struggling with a certain area that you’re proficient in – lending your time and expertise is 1.) a great way to get the attention of someone you want to connect with. or 2.) a great way to strengthen your relationship with an existing connection and help build that feeling of community.
It’s important that you make this offer without the expectation of getting anything in return. This is not a sales pitch – this is a chance to help. If what you are offering has inherent value and the person you are working with wants ongoing assistance down the road then they may be willing to pay you for your services – but make sure this one is on the house.
We all want to spend time with the people who make us happy. Having shared experiences helps you make memories and build your bond stronger than ever. Whether that’s taking a night to team up on a video game or sending each other ridiculous GIFs from time to time – find your thing and have some fun. If you’re ready to take the next step, meet up with each other at an annual event for your industry or a shared interest!
Real and meaningful relationships are hard to find online, so take the initiative to cut through the noise and make a real connection with someone in your community. Support them and their endeavors and form a relationship beyond your industry. It’s more than likely that they will do their best to support you on your journey as well.