One year ago, the pandemic paused our working lives, reimagined our home lives, and moved our personal and professional communities online. A lot has changed in the span of 12 months. We’ve transformed birthday parties into drive-by parades. We’ve created home offices at our breakfast tables. We’ve revolutionized the way we grocery shop. But one thing remains the same: we crave connection with others.
We need to connect with others in our personal lives, sure, but we also need human connection to grow our professional pursuits. Because most of us have professional dreams and goals (even those of us who don’t shout them from the rooftops). If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be here reading this article right now. So how do you find an online community that will cheer you on, listen to your struggles, and warn you when you’re about to make a major mistake in your business?
Well, there are a lot of ways to do it. But we’ve put together four of our favorite places to find (or expand!) your online community and make meaningful connections in a virtual era.
Twitter: The Ultimate Online Community Gathering Place
Twitter is not just the place to go to get news updates and hot takes from the kid who sat next to you in your college marketing class. It’s a micro-blogging haven! There are so many professionals using it today to talk about their expertise and how they can help others. But how do you find them? Start reading and tweeting!
Follow a few people in your industry or who you admire and begin to respond to what they tweet. Click through the responses and see if you have something to add to the conversation. Maybe there are a couple of people you already follow who responded before you did. Add them to a list and actively engage with other tweets they share. Your goal here is to find people who have interesting perspectives about topics you care about, or maybe you don’t even need them to be interesting. Maybe you need someone who is consistently talking about something that can help you improve.
Twitter is a great place to start building an online community in a virtual era because you really don’t have to do anything outside of the app. Simply follow people who make you better. Share your perspective. And try to help those who are following along to learn more about your own experience.
Bonus tip: You can save hashtag searches to find common themes and interests on Twitter, too!
Masterminds: Use Mighty Networks and Clubhouse to Support Community Online
Masterminds are small, peer-to-peer support groups where you can workshop real problems in real-time with trusted colleagues. There are many variations of masterminds available right now since they’re quite trendy. You can pay to be part of a professional mastermind network that will match you with individuals who are in similar stages or you can set one up yourself with people you’ve met at work or in your industry. The ultimate goal is that you have an online community that offers a safe space to talk about what’s going on in your business.
If you are setting one up yourself, Mighty Networks is a great platform to gather your participants and host your conversations and resources. If you’re not picky about who’s involved, consider hosting a room on Clubhouse about your industry or topic (and don’t forget to make a note about who you want to connect with after it’s over!).
LinkedIn: Send Messages But Make It Personal
It’s not surprising that we’ve mentioned three social media platforms already in this article about online communities. It’s what social media was made for! So we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention LinkedIn. LinkedIn can get you a bad reputation in the business world if you’re not careful, but it can also serve you well if you care about cultivating community online.
The key to succeeding on LinkedIn is to make things personal (but not informal). Take time to write a custom note when sending a connection request and send it without the expectation of anything in return. Find ways to highlight how you add value to the conversation when commenting on posts and articles. Join groups and cheer others on when they share good news. In short, show up on LinkedIn as you would show up for your friend at work and you’ll start to notice others who are using it as a way to build connection and community online, too.
Digital Courses: Built-In Online Communities
Our last recommendation for building an online community for yourself is for those who love to enroll in digital courses, online classes and membership sites. Chances are the other people who are involved in the course, class or site really, really like what you like, too! So don’t be afraid to show up in the comment section or send a fun GIF when someone does something awesome. This is another great place to add value as well (but proceed with caution – no one likes a know-it-all).
We like to think of this approach as finding a community within a community. The creator of the group becomes the common thread, but everyone in the group brings their own life experiences and perspectives.
You might join a succulent membership site to learn how to keep from killing plants the internet swears you can’t kill, but plants aren’t your only interest. You have a job and a life outside of that, too. By participating in the group discussion, you might find someone who lives in your hometown, works in the same industry or wants to find an accountability partner to finish writing a book. The succulent site becomes common ground to create a working friendship with this person and add one more connection to your online network. Making friends is hard, and trying to make them on the internet is even harder. That’s why we created our Small Business Marketing Challenge and Facebook Group, so you can meet like-minded business owners who want the same things you want: a trustworthy community online. We love seeing new faces in the group (and learning about your dreams and goals!), so consider this your first step to building your own personal online community.