Make Visible: Start Your Own Tribe
Please refer to my previous post Make Visible: Find Your Tribe.
So you’ve checked out a few social networking sites and been to a few local meetings but don’t really feel comfortable with any of them. Give it time! Maybe you just need to hang around for awhile and get to know people better. Or maybe, and this is very likely, the groups don’t address you specific interests. What to do? Why not start your own social networking site or offline group and find your tribe?
Wait. Don’t abandon the sites and groups you’ve tried out. They are good places to find people with similar or the same interests that you have. Here are seven easy steps to starting your own tribe:
- Decide on the focus for your group. It should be something you are passionate about. You don’t need to know everything about your subject to start a group about it.
- Name your group. Find a name you can live with that sums up what your group is all about.
- Find a free (or paid) platform for your new tribe. Or find a meeting place for your offline group. Here are some suggestions, by no means exhaustive.
Churches or Synagogues
Community Centers or Convention Centers
- Then set up your site the way you want or consider topics for your first offline meeting. Real world groups have slightly different considerations than online groups. You will need to find out about refreshments, if you need a key, if they need to buy drinks or food (if in a café or restaurant), and if there’s a fee to use the room. For online groups you may be able to design the site the way you want it to look, and set notification and membership settings. You can usually decide whether to let anyone join, join by invitation only, or to extend your membership to a select few. For offline groups you also have a choice whether to have a public group or a private group where you handpick the members.
- Advertise! This is where those previous networking sites and offline groups come in. They are great places to post about your new group and find new members for your new tribe. You can email and call your friends and post on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. Keep in mind whether or not you are inviting “everybody”, interested parties only, or a few select friends. That will determine how and where you publicize your new group.
- Provide content. Some people will come to your group and just chat, but it’s better to give them something to chat about. For online groups you can provide your own content, photos, writing, and artwork. Depending on whether your group is public or private, you can also share book excerpts. Always when sharing, share who the author or artist is. For real world groups, you may just have the group members bring something to talk about, or you could bring in speakers or teach classes in your subject. It may cost to hire speakers or teachers, so this is another opportunity to provide your own content or have group members take on these roles.
- Don’t let all this go to your head! Sure you started the group and can decide who goes and who stays, but don’t be a dictator. Let your new friends voice their opinions and post their own content. Encourage dialogue and respect among equals. As owner, you are in charge of getting rid of any spam accounts, sharing basic guidelines, and discouraging explicit photos and profanity (if that bothers you or becomes a problem).
One caveat: Your group may start slowly, may be active at times and inactive at other times, or may grow exponentially. You never know.
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