What if I Don’t Know Anyone Online?

Can I tell you a secret?

I find it highly uncomfortable trying to be social in situations where I know hardly anyone. I’m sure that many of you feel the same way.

I’m at a blog conference this week, and I’m dealing with this.  Sure, I know a handful of folks. But the vast majority of folks are new to me.  And it takes a certain amount of energy to work yourself up to walking up to perfect strangers and making conversation.  Many of you know that I’ve been getting over the flu the last 2 weeks, and am still not 100%.  That means the energy required to be social feels like double.

So what do I do? I look around the room and see who else is standing by themselves, feeling exactly the same way. Those are the ones I go up to. It relieves pressure for them (no one likes to feel like the person no one is talking to in group situations) and it helps me build new relationships too.

Why am I telling you this? Because on social networks, there are the people that feel that way too. If you want to find new people for your business, look around and see who’s new, who doesn’t know anyone. Focus on the folks with only a few people following them. The people who just started their blogs. Give them a little love and attention. Comment. Share their posts. Tell your friends about them, and connect them with others who have similar interests.

Sometimes we get on social networks and we think, “No one is talking to me or paying any attention at all.” It’s just like standing in that group and feeling like the one no one is talking to. But by focusing on who you can help out of a similar situation, you can build your network while also helping someone else.

Social networks are social situations. Think about how you can make someone feel more comfortable on your social networks today. What will you do?

image credit: mikemol

7 Responses to What if I Don’t Know Anyone Online?
  1. Kelly from Kelly's Lucky You
    January 31, 2011 | 12:17 pm

    Hi Jen!

    I was one of those people standing alone and it was very nice meeting you! The highlight of my trip to Nashville was the people I met – like you. We were chatting about making Facebook connections and you told you had just written a post about that. So here I am.

    Nice meeting you and i”m a new follower!

  2. Angela DiGiovanni | Living Out Loud
    January 29, 2011 | 2:42 am

    I love equating real life with social networking!

    When I started my blog I found a few people with blogs who didn’t have very many comments and we all kind of found each other and started commenting on each others posts. It was unspoken – but we knew we were helping each other out.

  3. Oliver Tausend
    January 28, 2011 | 4:55 pm

    Hi Jennifer,

    I like the analogy between the online and offline world. We can feel alone online even though we see that there is a lot traffic (and noise) passing by. I remember when I got started that people like Ryan Biddulph (glad to see him commenting here) and Susanna Hess left first comments on my blog. A great feeling and I felt recognized.

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

    Take care

    Oliver

  4. Robert Peil
    January 28, 2011 | 3:56 pm

    Very good points Jennifer,

    I know how it is for the shy people,
    as I grew up a very shy boy myself.

    If it was’t for being forced to be an
    instructor in the military, i don’t know
    if i would ever had to face the shyness challenge!

    A tip I found to work well for breaking out
    of shyness is the same advice you give here:

    Find those other shy ones, and reach out
    a helping hand… after all we are the ones
    that know exactly what they are going through, right?

    ‘Cause we’ve already been “in that movie”…

    ~Robert

  5. Ryan Biddulph
    January 28, 2011 | 3:22 pm

    Hi Jen,

    I like your strategy.

    I too am shy at times but found that using your technique works. It can be intimidating to seek out a sociable person because they tend to dominate the conversation and situation.

    Remember people are always watching. Lurkers reign supreme!

    Thanks for sharing with us.

    RB

  6. Deborah Davis
    January 28, 2011 | 12:23 pm

    Thank you for what you are doing and teaching. I am so glad that I came across you and your work you are doing! Glad you are starting to feel better. When you get done with this trip I hope you find time to rest and recuperate again. God Bless. Deb

  7. Valerie Cuell
    January 28, 2011 | 12:19 pm

    Jennifer, this is so true and soemthing I can really relate to. I used to be excruciatingly shy and although I have mastered it over the years, sometimes it comes back in social situations where I don’t know anyone.

    Being new on the internet and in social media is like being at a party where you can see people who are the centre of attention and have loads of friends and you think you can never be like them. No one will want to know you.

    But if you start reaching out and are genuine with everyone you meet, over time you can gain your own popularity.

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