Peer groups are an important part of your success. As children, it’s our peer group that influences us, shapes our attitudes and personality, even more than our parents. As we move into our careers, our peer group defines and nurtures our success. A strong peer group may not be the difference between success and failure but it certainly plays a role in how we are perceived and the opportunities that are presented to us. That’s why it’s important to pay attention and nurture the company you keep, especially online.
My Online Peer Group
I am fortunate to below to a couple of peer groups that align directly with what I publish online. One, Answers On Startups, is a stack exchange site that was originally put together by Dharmesh Shah of On Startups fame and Jason Cohen of A Smart Bear. The other is InfluiAds, a curated, focused ad network that delivers relevant ads to people that read your blog.
I got involved with Answers On Startups by literally participating. Just like all stack exchange sites, Answers On Startups is community driven. This means that the people that show up, create and craft the community they want. Through this creating and crafting, you earn points for good answers and get dinged for bad ones. As your reputation builds, so does your ability to do more stuff. Eventually, Dharmesh and Jason approached me to be a moderator and I have been one ever since. It’s an honor to be part of such a group that gives relevant advice to seasoned and would-be entrepreneurs. Go check it out if you have any startup questions.
The InfluiAds story is a little different. Anibal Damiao literally sent me a cold email asking if I wanted to join this new way of advertising. The concept is intriguing. Place a respectful, curated and relevant ad on your blog that is catered to your readership via their concept of unique communities. My community is the Startups & Entrepreneurs one which has some high calibre people in it like Venture Hacks, A Smart Bear, 47 Hats and Brad Hargreaves. Even though this is an ad network, being part of this stellar peer group is an honor. Again, the company you keep is an important part for getting new opportunities. In the case of the InfluiAds community, it’s not only beneficial to the community, it’s also beneficial to the advertisers since they are part of the peer group as well.
If you are interested in advertising or becoming part of an InfluiAds community, you should email Anibal([email protected]). He’s a wonderful guy that truly cares about the company he keeps and is always looking for quality community members and advertisers. To whomever out there recommended that Anibal contact me, thanks.
Building and Maintaing Your Online Peer Group
Peer groups are no more than networks of people that share common interests and goals. Your online peer group is no different. The trick with online peer groups is that you need to participate thoughtfully and give it time to build. Your online peer group really only knows you from your blog or comments. This means that those posts and comments need to be sharp and on target or you will quickly lose their attention. That’s one of the main problems with maintaining an online peer group — there is just way too many distractions.
To assist you in building and maintaining your online peer group, try some of these techniques:
Be giving: Most people will tell you to give away your best stuff since that will attract the most people. Besides giving away stuff, you should also be giving of your time and advice via email, phone calls or online forums.
Reach out respectfully: If you really want to meet someone, then you have to do it in a way that’s not going to creep them out or come off overbearing. No one likes a jerk and it’s even harder to not come across as a jerk online or in an email. The best way to reach out is to send them a complement or buy what they are selling.
Be helpful: People that help out are always considered a notch above people who just take and take. For example, if someone asks you a question and you can’t answer it, try to find them the answer. People will remember this extra effort.
Don’t take rejection personally: Just like in the real world, people will blow you off or not return your emails. This is just part of human nature and is no reflection on you unless you are a real jerk, which I bet none of you reading this are. The beauty of the Internet is that there is always someone else to go talk to. So, take rejection in stride and go find someone else to interact with.
The friend of your friend maybe your friend: One of the best ways to build your peer group is to get introduced to mutual friends. This is a great ice breaker and already gives you something to talk about. It’s also a boost to your creditability.
Buy what they are selling: Brian Clark and Mark McGuinness, over at Lateral Action have been an inspiration to me even though we have only exchanged brief emails. The reason is simple — they practice what they preach and their products are stellar. Part of the reason I bought Thesis was because of the Lateral Action Entrepreneur course I took and the wealth of knowledge I received for a pretty marginal investment.
Keep in contact: Maintaining your peer group boils down to interacting with them. Strive to keep in contact on a regular basis.
Send over interesting articles or posts: One way to keep in contact is to send over interesting articles or posts that will benefit your peer group. You can do this via an email list or a comment.
Write a quality comment: Comments are a great way to get noticed. They also show that you are still around, active and participating.
Produce content that’s relevant: Quality content is still a critical component of a quality relationship within your peer group. Make every post the best it can be and you will be recognized and appreciated.
There are lots of other ways to grow and maintain you peer group but the above tends to work for me. The take away from all of this is that, like any relationship, it takes time. The most important thing you can do is just be yourself. Being something you are not will just lead to awkward situations that will generally end badly. So, go out there, find your peer group online, nurture it and thrive.