Do you love your blogging friends but often find yourself wishing they lived next door? What if you could have a conversation with a fellow author at Farmer’s Market each week? What if you could invite a blogging buddy over for a tutorial in WordPress and widgets? What if you could call a friend in the same time zone when you find out that you’ve placed in a writing contest? What if you could sit down to coffee with someone who understands your need to write?
There are limitless blogs I could read, innumerable people I could follow online, but I can’t develop relationships with them all. If I want to go deep, not wide, I need to be intentional in some of my networking. As much as I love my blogging friends the world over, I’m trying to seek out the writers who are close enough to drop by for a cup of coffee or carpool to a writing conference. Writers tend to be introverted.
Sometimes, it’s easier to bare your heart online and then turn off the computer and live life. But what if we lived life with our writer friends offline as well as online? What if we got together with friends once in a while for a Five Minute Friday party? (Because we all know five minutes of writing is about all that would happen when writers are actually in the same room, no matter how introverted they might be!)
Maybe she doesn’t blog about the same things you do, or follow the same people on Twitter. You might be twenty years apart in age, but she’s not like every other woman at your church—you have more than Jesus and your location in common—you both love to write! Reach out to her. She might be that mentor you need to improve your writing, or you might be her ride to the next writer’s conference. Just because you don’t want to advertise where you live in your Twitter profile or invite everyone over for an apple cider pressing (though I have a friend who did just that!), that shouldn’t stop you from finding kindred spirits nearby.
In this age of social media, we’re (rightly) concerned about our privacy. But in being careful not to reveal too much personal information, we’ve lost the ability to connect with fellow writers who live practically next door. Local networking might be harder than online interest networking, but the rewards can be a lot longer lasting than blog comments and followers. Remember, Local Writing Groups are different than Mastermind Groups. Mastermind Groups demand some similarity in blogging audience and focus (so you can give input on and promote each other’s posts) but enable diversity in location. Local Writing Groups likely will include a diverse crowd of writers, each at different spots in writing venues and responsibilities, accomplishments and aspirations, but united by their locale, their love of writing, and—hopefully—their trust in Jesus. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Search Google and Facebook for writing groups and conferences in your area.
- Create or use local hashtags in your Tweets.
- Have a Twitter party!
- Start a private Facebook group for those in your state or region. Keep it a focused area (within driving distance) without letting it get too big (i.e. west coasters might be able to specify a whole state while those on the east coast might find hundreds of fellow bloggers in one city).
- Create a private Twitter list for the bloggers you’ve discovered in your area, so you can interact with them more closely.
- Schedule a regional meet-up at a blogging conference.
How have you been able to connect with local writers and fellow bloggers?