When I wrote about the benefits of networking with other bloggers on Tuesday of this week, I had several people in the comments either ask about how I started my blogger networking group or just indicate that they wanted something like that, but weren’t sure how to go about starting something like that. I promised to share my own story about forming the blog networking group that I’m in.
Feeling a Sense of Needing a Blogger Networking Group
Even at the end of 2009, I started having this real feeling that I needed to be in a blogger networking group. I wanted the promotion/networking aspect of it, but I also just wanted the community aspect of it.
Instead of doing something about this, however, I just basically whined to myself every time I thought about it. “Nobody ever invites me to anything,” I would think in that whole “I’m going to take my ball and go home” type of voice.
When I attended my first conference, Blissdom in 2010, my sense of urgency to be in a group grew. Of course, my sense of not being invited to a group and the sadness also grew.
Being Convicted to Start My Own Group
One day, in February 2010 (just after Blissdom), while I was again lamenting my lack of group, it just hit me. I’m sure that it was a call from God, really (especially knowing what has eventually come out of the group). I distinctly heard myself being called, “If you are being invited to a group, just start your own.”
No, I did not want to do that. And, quite frankly, I wouldn’t. Or, at least I thought I wouldn’t. Instead, I kept feeling that call to start my own group.
I’m the kind of person that just wants people to like me. So, the thought of approaching people about a group and being rejected sounded horrible to me. I didn’t want to do it, but the thought of having a group for support and networking had to trump that fear.
I began to think of the people that I thought would be good additions to a group like this. I had some obvious options – people that I already frequently emailed with about different things. Then, I also went through some of the business cards that I received at Blissdom and thought about those people that I felt like I had connection with, as well as those that might mesh well with the people I already had in mind.
I think it’s important to note that while some of those I emailed were people I already felt like I knew really well, some were people I had only just barely met. So, if you’re forming a group, don’t feel like you can only ask your best blogging friends ever.
Putting Myself Out There
After I decided on who I would invite (which was approximately 13 people), I had to compose an email with my thoughts about what this group would be about. I carefully composed my thoughts about it, sent it to each of the bloggers I had in mind, and then felt the strong urge to vomit.
See – I wasn’t kidding. I was so scared of their responses. I flinched every time I hit “send/receive” on my email. And, then the first response finally came in. And another. And another.
Of all the emails I sent out, I got only one “rejection.” It wasn’t even really a rejection though. It was just a “I’m trying to spend less time on the computer, but thank you so much for thinking of me.”
The rest of the emails, however, were beautiful. People were touched to be asked, excited at the prospect of the group, and even some saying that they had been praying for something like this.
I had found my people.
The Group was Born
We had to figure out some of the logistics of where to “meet,” but otherwise, the group quickly fell into place and connections started being made immediately. (I think it helped that there was a sense that I was in charge of the group. I know that sounds bad, but when a lot of decisions need to be made at once, I always think it helps to have one central person to make a final decision based on the desires of the group.)
While we decided to spring for a Ning Mini board (which costs about $20/year), groups could also use things like a private Facebook group, email, particular chat times on Skype, or any other option that seems to work for all of the members.
The Group Grows and Changes
We have now been a group for a little over two years. In that time, we have managed to keep several of the original members. However, things change for people. We have had members leave for a variety of reasons. Some joined and never got active, some decided to stop blogging, and the like.
We also got to a point two different times where we added several new people to our group. Our current group is an active network of approximately 20 bloggers. It has become a very loyal group where we know that we can go for solutions to problems, ideas, promotions, writing opportunities, and most importantly – a true love and support for each other.
I may have put myself out there with those initial emails, but I really believe it was God that brought us all together.
I cannot express enough how much this group has meant to me, as well as how strongly I encourage you to find your own group. If you have been busy waiting for someone to contact you, it might just be that you are the one being called to do the contacting. Good luck!
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