Build Your Online Community…Offline

by Derick Schaefer on February 1, 2010

Social Media Community

In the world of social media, one of the biggest buzz words is “community”.

The headlines constantly read, “Build An Online Community”, “Join A Community”, and so forth.  As a blogger, the ultimate compliment is when a community starts to form around your blog.  However, unless you already have celebrity status, you can’t expect that to happen until you participate in other communities.

One of my blogging goals for the new year is to interact more with other bloggers.  One way of doing this is stepping away from your computer keyboard and physically getting out into the community.  In this post, I’m going to share with you some more details of how I’m going about doing that.

I am very fortunate to live in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex as we have a community very rich in social media professionals and bloggers.  Many don’t know that Dallas is the home of some great blogs like GeekBrief.TV, CopyBlogger.Com, OneMansBlog.Com, NoFactZone.Net, and MidwestSportsFans.Com.

Social Media Club Dallas

Organization – SMC Dallas is a chapter of  Social Media Club
Follow and Keep Up – @smcdallas, @mikemerrill, @levelten_colin, #smcdallas

Social Media Club Dallas is the Dallas chapter of a national organization called Social Media Club.  Each month the club hosts a guest speaker at various locations in Dallas.  The speaker quality is excellent (e.g. Chris Brogan spoke in January) and the club has a handful of local sponsors that have been great.

While the speakers are great, my main reason for participating in this professional social media organization is that it is a great place to meet and catch up with social media professionals, public relations professionals, and bloggers based in the Dallas area.  Every meeting is followed by a happy hour, which is great as it gives you the chance to hang out and talk with others in the industry.

After several meetings I have started to form relationships in the organization and these relationships have also been carried through to online social media.  I find myself following new people, Digging/Tweeting their messages and content, and they do the same.

DFW WordPress Meetup

Organization – Organized through MeetUp.Com
Follow and Keep Up – @dfwwp, @tonycecala, #dfwwp

After Matt, Hannah, Jerod, and I attended WordCamp Dallas 2009, we all knew we needed to get more active in the local WordPress community.  Of course, client work, blogging, and running a small business got in the way of that, but I made attending the local WordPress meetup one of my professional New Years resolutions.

I went to my first meetup this past weekend.  There were over 120 attendees there to hear JohnP (OneMansBlog.Com) talk about traffic, monetization, WordPress, and more.   Having over 600 members, this meetup is actually the strongest WordPress meetup in the United States.  I was really bummed that I had to leave about 20 minutes early as I wanted to stick around and meet new people.  I did meet several people on Twitter as a result of the Meetup and will attend this meetup regularly as bloggers who use WordPress are my kind of crowd.

Other

It is no surprise that I would meet fellow social media professionals and bloggers by attending social media and blog-centric organizations.  However, I am quickly becoming convinced that there is a blogger or influential person on social media in every non-industry related group as well.

This past week I attended two separate events in a small town east of Dallas called Rockwall, TX.  First, I was invited to speak at a 7AM networking meeting that consisted of local power professionals in the community.  One of the attendees was the District Attorney of Rockwall County.  She came up to me after the presentation and wanted to make and introduction to a social media leader in the legal space.  I was ecstatic as we have been talking about getting a series of guest posts on How-To-Blog.TV specifically tailored for attorneys.  Perhaps this will be the introduction that will allow me to make that goal a reality on our blog.

The second event was a roast of two local politicians as a part of an anual music festival.  It was there that I met Glen Farris, a Rockwall City Council member and blogger who runs Blog Rockwall.  We exchanged some information and I look forward to connecting up with Glen online.

Summary

Though it happens every day, connecting with someone online outside of the context of actually meeting them face to face can be difficult.  By physically getting out into the community, you open yourself up to meeting new and interesting people with whom you share the same interests online.  From that face to face interaction, you build context thar helps to foster the online relationship as well.

Set a goal for yourself of getting out into the community and participating in both social media based organizations and other types of organizations alike.  If you travel, live in a remote area, or for other reasons don’t have access to these types of organizations, search them out on Twitter and participate with them online.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Sandra Starr February 8, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Derick, I have been bragging about you ever since you spoke to the Rockwall Power Group. I ran into Glen Farris at a social networking meeting a day or so after that and told him he needed to meet you. That happened at the “roast.” You’re the best and we were so lucky!

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Derick-Schaefer February 9, 2010 at 10:31 am

You are too kind. I was excited to meet Glen at the roast and actually included that in a post we published on How-To-Blog.TV last week. You can check it out at http://how-to-blog.tv/social/social-media-community-offline/ .

Stay in touch!

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