While I was listening to the questions and comments during the business break-out session of the blog conference I attended this past weekend, Kate (not mine) raised her hand. She told the crowd to never discount what you can get involved with offline. Kate is a great person to suggest this because along with her own blog, Kate runs a hyper local blog in her town as well as founded her local chapter of the Social Media Club.
In a space where it can seem like you are sometimes jockeying for positions or that – quite frankly – you feel bored/annoyed/tired/frustrated by from time to time, I think the advice to disconnect from the virtual world to connect with other social media users and bloggers in your same local area is spot on.
In the past 6 months, I’ve been getting very involved in the social media community in Memphis, TN. It’s been a fabulous networking opportunity, I’ve met some incredible people and have been fortunate to join in some exciting projects, too. In some ways, it has made me appreciate getting my blogging and social start in the blogosphere that you and I know. But in other ways, I love that I am now surrounded by users who learned the ropes “in the real world” vs the very small universe that is the mom blogger community.
If you do decide to give it a shot and poke around in your area, take a look at your local colleges and universities. I was blown away when I learned that the University of Memphis recently created a social media major as part of its business school. I even reached out to the professor in charge and was able to put together a presentation for his advanced social media strategies course.
Check for local Meetup groups and conferences. Here in Memphis, there are all sorts of WordPress, social and tech meetups, plus a bi-annual tech, social and online marketing conference. These are fantastic opportunities for learning and networking as well as presenting and sharing your knowledge. In fact, the next conference here in Memphis is coming up May 12th, and I was offered the incredible opportunity to emcee the event!
Also, if putting your social efforts to work for a local cause is something you are interested in, look to see if there are any current groups doing just that… or start something yourself! Beth Sanders is a very talented and caring woman who founded MemphisGives, which is a quarterly event that brings together Memphis’ tech community to give back. By using social media, we promote the charity we’re raising money for, come together 1 evening in a local restaurant to do the social fundraising, and collect donations which then are turned over to the chosen charity.
As crazy as it sounds, there really are so many social opportunities offline. Whether or not you feel that right now is the best time to venture away from your computer to grow and learn, I would say to always keep it an option. We are all connected to so many throughout the world, but quite often there are some pretty amazing opportunities right outside in our own backyard.
Are you socially involved in your local market?