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How to Network Effectively in Online Communities

How to grow your biz when you don't like social media (1)
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Have you been a member of online communities but spent more time lurking than actually participating?

You’re not alone… it can feel daunting to get started and know how to insert yourself into a community that is already running.

We all know how crucial it is to build connections, especially when you’re building and running a business. Yet, many of us join online communities with the best intentions but then get stuck, unsure how to dive into the conversations. 

If you’ve found yourself lurking in the shadows of an online group, this article is for you. Let’s get you out of your head and into action with some tangible steps to start engaging and making the most of these communities.

Understanding the Value of Online Communities

 

Benefits of Active Participation

Online communities are goldmines for networking, learning, and growing your business. By actively participating, you can build strong relationships, gain valuable insights, and increase your visibility, or as my friend Matt Johnson says, become Microfamous. Imagine having a supportive network that cheers you on, lifts you up when you’re stuck, and refers people to you when they meet someone who needs what you offer—sounds pretty great, right?

Common Fears and Misconceptions

Many of us hold back because of fear or misconceptions. You might worry that you don’t have anything valuable to contribute or feel intimidated by more experienced members. Let’s bust this myth: you don’t need to be an expert to add value. Your unique experiences and perspectives are exactly what make your contributions valuable. [would you add anything to expand here?]

Preparing to Participate

 

Setting Clear Goals

Start by defining what you want to achieve through your community participation. Whether it’s networking, learning new skills, or increasing your visibility, having clear goals will guide your actions. Set realistic, measurable goals, like going in to see where you can offer support on other members posts a few times per week or connecting with a specific number of members.

Choosing the Right Communities

Not all communities are created equal. Find ones that align with your interests and goals. Evaluate the activity level, the type of content shared, and the community culture. Joining a mix of larger, well-established groups and smaller, niche ones can give you a balanced experience.

Getting Started: From Lurker to Active Participant

 

Creating an Engaging Profile

Your profile is your first impression. Make it count! Use a friendly, professional picture and craft a bio that highlights your expertise and interests. Let people know who you are and what you’re passionate about.

Introducing Yourself

A great way to start is by writing a thoughtful introduction post. Share who you are, what you do, and why you joined the community. Add a personal story or unique perspective to make your introduction memorable and relatable.

Observing Before Engaging

Spend some time observing the community dynamics. Understand the conversation flow, popular topics, and influential members. This will help you find the best way to jump into discussions without feeling lost.

Strategies for Active Participation

 

Starting with Small Interactions

Begin by liking and commenting on existing posts. Show support and start building relationships. Ask open-ended questions to encourage discussion and share useful resources or insights related to ongoing conversations.

Initiating Your Own Posts

Once you’re comfortable, start initiating your own posts. Ask questions, share your experiences, and talk about challenges or successes. Use polls, surveys, or prompts to generate interaction and engagement.

Consistency is Key

Set aside regular time for community engagement. Consistency is more important than frequency. It’s better to engage meaningfully a few times a week than to post sporadically. Celebrate small wins and milestones in your engagement journey to keep yourself motivated.

Building Deeper Connections

 

Engaging with Influential Members

Identify and follow key influencers within the community. Engage with their content and participate in their discussions. Building relationships with influential members can help you gain visibility and credibility.

Offering Help and Value

Notice when you see members asking for support on topics that you’re suited to support with. Depending on the community, you can even search your specific keywords to find posts that are relevant to your area of expertise so that you can be efficient in engaging on topics that you’re an expert in. Show genuine interest in helping others succeed, and you’ll quickly become a valued member of the community.

Taking Conversations Offline

Suggest one-on-one virtual coffee chats or meetups to build deeper connections. Be sure to attend community-hosted events. Creating small accountability or mastermind groups within the larger community can also foster stronger bonds.

Overcoming Common Obstacles

 

Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

Recognize and challenge negative self-talk. Celebrate your unique perspective and contributions. Seek feedback and validation from supportive peers to build confidence.

Managing Time and Energy

Prioritize your engagement activities to avoid burnout. Use tools and apps to manage your participation effectively. Balance community engagement with other business and personal responsibilities to ensure it remains sustainable.

 

Learning how to make networking a small part of your daily routine can make a HUGE impact in your business

 

Transitioning from a lurker to an active participant in online communities can significantly boost your networking and business growth. By taking small, consistent steps towards engagement, you can build meaningful connections, gain valuable insights, and establish your authority

Share for favorite community below if you have one that has been supportive in your journey as a mom and entrepreneur. 

And if you’re looking for a great community to support you in growing your business, go check out BossMom+, the only dedicated platform that increases (and facilitates) your visibility, builds authority, and attracts clients to you… without the distraction of social media.

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Dana Malstaff

Dana Malstaff

Dana Malstaff is the Founder of Boss Mom and creator Nurture to Convert.
She is a mother, author, speaker, messaging strategist, podcaster, blind spot reducer, and movement maker. She believes that too many brilliant moms are struggling to figure out how to grow their business while balancing all that is required to be a good mom, partner, and woman. So many moms are trying to grow their business using trends that feel inauthentic and aren't realistic for their inconsistent schedules. She has helped thousands of women become known for their brain and not their dance moves

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