My Tribe

  Hello friends and followers! My sincerest apologies for missing Monday's Mental Health Day post. Here in the land of Bear we were experiencing some technical and real-world difficulties. I promise to deliver some extra-awesome mental health tips next week!

In other news, it's time for a new Industry Hump post. Last week we talked about some of the best SEO Secrets I recently acquired. I hope that you guys found last week's post useful! Today I want to talk about something that has revolutionized my life as a blogger: building a tribe.

Photo from Afternoons of Reverie

Running a blog or a freelance business is hard work, we all know this. One of the best things you can do for your brand/blog/business (the 3B's) when you are just starting out is to surround yourself with a tribe of like-minded, motivated, inspirational, successful people. Yes, that's right, you've heard it before: networking is key.

Here's why:

  • You're going to need all the positive feedback and constructive criticism you can get. Whether it's a loving comment, a retweet, an in-real-life high five, a supportive Facebook chat message, or a kind email... hearing back from your friends, followers, and fans is always reassuring and soothing. It's nice to have your tribe point out that your latest blog post was just fan-freaking-tastic. At the same time, you want to hear back from your peers on what's not so great. Think of your tribe as a free focus group, there to tell you what's working and what's not. Growing any of the 3B's is a long and hard process, and you need to be open to all forms of feedback.
  • It's a great outlet for bouncing ideas back and forth. I can't tell you how many times I've turned to my tribe to poll them on blog topics. "Hey guys, what do you think of this idea? Would you read this? Do you think I have the authority to give advice on this?" My tribe has probably saved me from at least 30 opportunities of making an ass of myself. They've also helped me hash out the details of various blog posts, projects, and website issues. I don't think I would have made it this far without all their help.
  • This industry thrives on generosity and reciprocity. We live in a big, digital world where people have unique skills and strengths. Whereas you might be great at ghostwriting and editing, you have no idea how to use Photoshop but are desperately in need of a new logo. Look to your tribe! Reach out to your colleagues and see if anyone is interested your unique services in exchange for some help designing a logo. The barter system isn't dead, you guys. At the same, take advantage of opportunities to help out your tribe members even if they don't have anything to offer you in return right now. You never know when you're going to need that tribal karma in the future!
  • A tribe can be the greatest source of inspiration. Some of the best ideas for my posts have come after reading through someone else's post. Whether it be the topic they touch on or even just their writing style - something strikes me in their words and I am filled with the desire to produce content, and lots of it. Whenever I hit a writer's block, I often find myself reading through the archives of my tribe members. When you surround yourself with like-minded, smart, wonderful souls it's hard not to get inspired on the reg.
  • Do it for the love of blogging/brand building/entrepreneurship. If you're launching one of your 3B's, you know that it's a never ending job. You're constantly on the clock and it's pretty much all you can think about. Eventually, your friends and family are going to get sick of listening to you talk endlessly and exclusively about it. That's when your tribe comes into effect. It's so nice to be able to turn to a group of people who are going through the exact same thing as you are. You can celebrate the triumphs with them and whine about the difficulties. I know that this blog is like a newborn child for me - I squee about all my favorite posts, I'm constantly jotting down notes and harassing people for photos, and I have said on more than one occasion, "I'm sorry guys, I can't go out, I have to blog tonight." I try to surround myself with other new 'moms' who understand so that my real friends don't stage an inter-friend-tion.

Doesn't that all sound fantastic? I think so.

So, um, how do I go about gathering people into my tribe?

I'm so glad you asked! There's actually a number of ways to do it. Be forewarned: networking and building lasting relationships with peers is no easy task. It should probably be described as a job entirely on its own. But if you're genuine and passionate and eager and genuine (yes, authenticity is so important that I need to mention it twice), it won't seem like work at all.

One of the best ways to build a tribe is to interact with bloggers you love. Subscribe to their posts, strike up a conversation on Twitter, leave lots of comments. Basically, just let them know how much you love them. If you really do love them, they will respond. Everyone loves to be praised, it's just human nature. Pay someone a compliment and they will pay attention. I've recently started using a web program called BlogLovin' that lets me track all of my tribe members' blogs in one place - and it's super sleek and sexy. I'm a big fan. You can find me on BlogLovin' here if you're interested!

Another great way to expand your community is attend meetups, events, digital conferences, and webinars. Using tools like Meetup.com, LinkedIn Groups, Facebook groups, locally-based freelance groups, and many others you can find lots of people that are going through the same thing. Most of these events are free, some of them have small fees, but they are all 100% worth it. I've met so many driven, talented, and encouraging people through these gatherings and I am eternally grateful to have them all in my tribe.

A severely underrated method is to reach out to mentors and industry leaders. Find people that inspire you with what they do, how they do, and the results they've harnessed. If someone's doing exactly something right, wouldn't you want to know how? More often than not, these people are thrilled to sit down and chat with you about what they do and how they do it and why it works. I reached out to my blogging idols when I applied to be the Blogcademy New York volunteer. I wrote my application letter with passion and honesty, and I landed the gig. I got to attend the first ever Blogcademy event for free (well, ok, I worked pretty hard over the course of two days) and I got to meet up with three ladies I have always admired. It was such an incredible opportunity to work directly with these three women who had made it, I mean really made it, in the industry and hear their stories and secrets. Reach out to your mentors and see what opportunities for learning they can offer you!

And lastly, the most important piece of advice I can give you is to remember that you are always networking. Every place you go, every person you meet, every conversation you strike up is an opportunity to make a connection. You never know when or where you're going to find the next addition to your tribe. Always put your best foot forward. Always aim to make a positive, lasting impression.

I hope you guys found this post helpful! Still got questions? Need some help locating your tribe members? Want to be a part of my tribe? Drop it all in the comments below!

Gathering souls, xx Nikbear