Monday, November 29, 2010

Online Persona Workshop Week Nine: More On How To Find Your Peeps

Today we have another entry in our expanded section on how to find friends and followers, this one contributed by the delightful Vivian Lee Mahoney. Vivian is a writer, blogger, and a Postergirlz for Reader Girlz.

Vivian and I became acquainted online when she first started stopping by my blog. Earlier this year when I was in Boston, I considered asking Vivian if she wanted to try and meet in person, but I was too shy. However, while I was back east, she and her lovely daughters came to one of my booksignings, wherein she confessed she had considered seeing if I wanted to try and get together, but she was too shy. Is that the quintessential introvert meet up or what??


When Robin asked me to write a few tips on how I found my niche in the virtual world as an introvert, it made me happy. How cool is it that a writer I admire so much, thinks I have a voice in the blogging world?

Then I started to panic. What can I write about that hasn't been covered in all the wonderful Shrinking Violet Promotions posts? I thought about this for some time, and then realized I might as well share the truth with you. I wear a mask.

Not a real one of course. I know, I know. A few of you are probably giggling or rolling your eyes. But, think about it. Isn't it somewhat intimidating that gazillions of people are on the internet and of those numbers, 99.99% of them are strangers? Now add to this equation the strong possibility that people you don't know will visit your blog and/or your website. Maybe it's through a Google search, a recommendation from a friend, or serendipity. In any case, people will find you. What will you do? You can't freak or run away. This is your space, your virtual home--or if you use your writerly imagination--your masquerade ball. It's up to you to create the right atmosphere.

Before I continue, I happen to have a few extra masks. Here you go. Ready? Look at yourself in the mirror. No need to hide your smile. You're absolutely fabulous. Come on now. Let's walk down the steps to the ballroom. I have three secrets to tell you...

1. Use anonymity to your advantage: Except for the .01% of the people out there, no one knows who you really are. You've got a mask on and can be whomever you'd like, as long as you're welcoming and respectful of your guests. Think of the mask as a buffer, something that will give you courage to be yourself in exponential form, without the worry of being found out. Share information, engage in conversation, and have fun! People will be intrigued and come back for more.

2. Be vulnerable: The mask allows you to be vulnerable, without the fear of being discovered. Sometimes it's easier to open up to strangers, and share things—your hobbies, your expertise, your loves, your life—within reason. Maybe the mask makes you feel safe to express yourself—after all, who will read what you have to say? Or maybe you're afraid/embarrassed to share things with the people in your real life, and the mask gives you the courage to let it all out. It's the things we can't always say and finally let out that will make people respond, because they relate to you and see themselves in what you have to say.

3. Be true: People can spot a fake a mile away, even on the internet. Although the mask gives you freedom, remember it will only give you bravery as long as you're true to who you really are. Your virtual peeps stop by to visit because they like you, trust what you have to say, and enjoy the conversation. There's no need to pretend you're something you're not. And you certainly don't need to prove yourself to anyone. You're perfect just the way you are.

It wasn't so hard, was it? Look at all the people having a lovely time at your masquerade ball. You made this happen!

Wear a mask and open up your virtual world. You'll find power you never knew you had. You'll be able to use your anonymity to your advantage, be vulnerable, and true. Your peeps will want to spend more time with you because they connect with you AND they like who they are when they're with you. Soon enough, you'll find you no longer need the mask and even better, you'll find yourself surrounded by a supportive group of virtual peeps. Be brave and let the world see what you have to offer. You can do it.

Thanks so much, Robin, for allowing me to stop by.

Thank YOU, Vivian, for such an honest look at such a terrific management strategy for being online!


And the winner of last week's contest is Chris Eboch!
Chris, email me  with your address and I will get a copy of the aMaZinG SHIP BREAKER out to you!

More tips on gaining friends and followers next week!


Unknown said...

As a "shrinking violet", I found this advice excellent. I'm going to be someone I'm not. Watch out Internet! Here I come and I'm smoking! :-)

jama said...

Great post, Vivian! :)

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

I wonder if it isn't so much a case of putting on a mask as taking one off. Instead of pretending to be someone else, we're really being the person we would love to be if those who know us IRL wouldn't lift their eyebrows and say, "What's gotten into her?" ;-)

Thanks for the post!

Grandpa said...

Well said! Since I started my blog three months ago I have more friends from the blogsphere than I actually have in real life - that's how much an introvert I am!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by and reading this post! Glad this has provided some food for thought. I'm realizing I may not have articulated myself clearly. There's no need to pretend to be someone else. Most of us know it never works in real life and probably wouldn't on the internet (unless you were writing a blog from your MC's POV).

Please, be true to who you are. Be yourself. However, if you happen to be like me and need a mask to give you a little more bravery, go for it.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Great post, Vivian! I love blogging because I've found all these people who love to read and write as much as I do and they truly *get* this part of me that not too many people in my "real" life understand. Being vulnerable and true to the anonymous people who read my blog (and the ones who become more than anonymous faces!) has made the experience so much fun.

R.L. LaFevers said...

Vivian, I have to say again just how much wisdom I found in this post. The mask makes so much sense to me! It also doesn't seem at all contradictory with being true to oneself and authentic. Somehow the mask of anonymity the internet gives us allows us to do exactly what Jenn Hubbard says, be the people we really are, without shocking those who think they already know us.

Thanks again for sharing your insights with us!

Rachelle Christensen said...

Wonderful post! I love the whole mask analogy. It's such a give and take--trying to find the right balance of how much to let them see behind the mask.

Anonymous said...

I agree totally with Jennifer's comment.

And Hi Grandpa didn't know you frequented this blog! *waves* (without a mask)

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