Personal Branding, Tribes and Clusters
Networking In the Digital Era
It has taken a lot to move past my skepticism of ideas like “Digital Tribes” but having spent a long time in online community building over the past 13 years, I have no choice but to accept that the concept is sound.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, a tribe (in the context of this article) is a small internet community that is connected by a common interest or philosophy. The Wikipedia article does a good job on expanding upon this one sentence summary — for the sake of this article, we can just use my basic definition.
I want to preface this discussion with why I had been so riddled with skepticism and how a lot of good ideas have been tainted by clutter and buzzwords. The internet is in a serious time of change and most of it can be attributed to the rise in individual / independent content creation. We love content, we’re addicted to it and we actively seek it out.
In the internet of old, we used meta-tags and keywords to try to make websites stand out. We abused algorithms for the sake of SEO and the half of content that usually rose to the top of search engine results was shallow. Google, in the past few years, has tweaked its search algorithm to reward sites that actually provide content. Marketers know this as “content marketing” and I’ll talk about this more in-depth another time. But marketers and companies aren’t the only ones creating content. Everyone is. There is a lot of good content being produced daily; be it on YouTube, social media or publishing platforms (like Medium!) but in this effort to be noticed, people tend to overuse buzzwords and “digital tribalism” was one that always made me roll my eyes. I was suffering from buzzword fatigue.
The truth is, we do live in that digital era which was so often referenced in the 90’s. We don’t have to bar hop to meet people, anymore. We don’t have to attend seminars to network for work. We don’t have to leave our homes to socialize (though fresh air is nice). We’re digital.
As more ‘millennials’ enter the job market, their social behaviors will begin and continue to shift how business is done. Many have their roots in IRC or AOL buddy chats, and that’s evolved into Facebook chats, Twitter groups and chat clients. These people have carried friendships with people they’ve met online for decades. Unsurprisingly, many of these friendships turn into business networking and partnerships as these ‘children of the internet’ become adults.
My tribe encompasses a wide network of creatives, concept developers and coders. If you want to network inside of your tribe, position yourself as an expert. Personal branding has become a vital part of making yourself visible to online networks and your personal brand has a major effect on your business. Each tribe is connected by individuals. I like to call these individuals nodes and tribes clusters. As you grow your online persona and brand, you will find yourself connected to more and more clusters. Within each cluster is a business and networking opportunity.
In order to position yourself as an expert and a respected tribe member, remember the following:
- Seek to learn
Learn skills from others within your digital tribes. Being open to learning builds these relationships. Don’t assume you know everything.
- Teach others
Dedicate some of your personal time to teach others. While you may not know everything, people are willing to hear what you do know. Your insights or tips may directly influence an individual and build you personal brand.
- Reach Out for Business Opportunities
There may be potential business relationships within your tribes. If you can provide a job and someone within your cluster has earned your respect, provide them an opportunity. You never know when another may come your way!
Regardless of whether or not you are trying to grow your business or just your personal connections, digital tribes are a great alternative method to networking. If you find yourself spending hours online chatting already, odds are — you may already be a part of one.