I’ve been using the internet for 20 years – hard to believe. I built my first website in 1995 and since then I’ve seen the evolution of this amazing tool we all use daily.
One of the greatest things I’ve seen since the beginning is the power of community. In the early days of the commercial internet – before Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest – we had online “chat rooms” and websites like Ryze and Ecademy.
In these groups we shared in much similar ways as we do on LinkedIn and Facebook today. In fact, using some of the groups on various websites in 1997 I invited women business owners to cruise with me. My ex-husband and I had planned a cruise, but got divorced before it ever happened. I was determined to go, but had no money. But I learned that if I sold 12 cabins on the cruise I wanted, my cabin was FREE! Well that was a challenge I could handle. So in those chat rooms (only text – no video in those days) I connected with some amazing women and yes, we went on a great cruise from Los Angeles, California to Encinada, Mexico and back. We did a workshop each morning (so the trip could be a business write off), then had free time in the afternoon. This experience taught me that the virtual communities we build can be just as, if not stronger, than those we have in “the real world”.
Today, I belong to a number of great online groups on Facebook. Some revolve around business topics (e.g. courses we teach on a common platform and blogging). While I love the business support I get, there are also a couple of groups that offer so much more. Interestingly, these are groups that were formed by women for a specific business focus but now have become a sounding board for other issues. As a solo-preneur – working alone much of the time it can be hard to ‘get out of my own head’ at times and I love the opportunity to get feedback from women I trust. Sometimes it’s about a business issue, but other times it’s about a personal issue. I trust the women in my groups and know they have my back.
I also belong to groups on LinkedIn – but those are definitely more business oriented and focused. but they also have their value in making connections, learning and sharing information.
If you’re not in any online communities I encourage you to find the ones that fit for you. Find people who share your common interests and who you can help out and who can support you.
The internet isn’t just a place for cute cat videos anymore.