My Example of Creating a Professional Network Globally
For my translation agency BudgetVertalingOnline, I have been networking for quite a few years now. Recently, though, I have been taking steps to cross the border with my blog Meemoeder.com. Meemoeder.com is a Dutch blog about lesbian family life and national and international LGBTQ events. Because its topics also include international events, it is important for me to focus on creating a professional network globally.
In this blog, I discuss the seven steps I have taken so that others can learn from them and I can receive tips on what I can do better. So, if you have any ideas, please let me know in the comment section or mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks in advance!
Two and a half years ago, I started writing for Meemoeder.com when my wife was pregnant. It quickly attracted some attention and soon, I made it more professional. Every Sunday, I write about our week and every Wednesday, I give parenting tips and tricks or I write about the LGBTQ community.
I came across an amazing LGBTQ event in Las Vegas, called ClexaCon, which aims to enhance the representation of LGBTQ women in media and entertainment. I knew right away that Meemoeder.com had to be present the following edition and I was very fortunate to receive a press pass for it. Still, flying to Las Vegas is quite an investment, so how could I make the most out of it? I decided to grow my professional network globally.
Creating a professional network globally – step 1: Expanding my reach by adding vlogs to the mix
November last year, I started taking a course that taught me how to vlog for business purposes. In a private Facebook group, we were allowed to post all our first vlogs so we could receive feedback and get over that first hurdle of showing your face on camera. It really is scary at first! Fortunately, I felt at ease quite quickly!
I also wrote a few blog posts about vlogging, just to find out more about recent tips and trends. Examples are What is the Simplest Way for a Newbie to Edit a Vlog?, How to Start a Vlog for Your Business the Right Way, and What Alternatives are There for Small Creators on YouTube?.
Then, instead of merely writing about the relevant topics, I started vlogging about them as well. I added those vlogs to my blogs so that my readers knew they could see me in videos as well. In addition, I added the links to my blogs to the descriptions of the video’s so that people discovering me in a video knew that I am a blogger too.
Creating a professional network globally – step 2: Expanding my reach by adding English as a language
Before ClexaCon, I was only blogging in Dutch on Meemoeder.com. The main reason was that parenting is very culturally determined, so that seemed to work best. However, in terms of international events, it is obviously better to write in English. This way, more people know about the event and about the fact that you are going. Most Dutch people have no problem reading in English; therefore, I figured I would not lose readers either.
Creating a professional network globally – step 3: Establishing myself as an authority on the topic
Queer representation and lesbian-themed movies are two of my many passions. I have a master’s degree in American Studies (a few years later, I also obtained a master’s degree in International Business & Management), and during this program, I focused on the minors Film & TV Studies and Gender Studies. We can conclude that it is not weird that I have this particular blog and go to these events.
Meemoeder.com allows me to talk about my passions and so I had already been talking about lesbian-themed movies and LGBTQ events in Dutch but not in English. I decided that whenever I was going to talk about these topics, I would write in English, establishing myself as an authority for people across the borders of The Netherlands as well.
I started visiting and promoting film festivals in The Netherlands that had a queer day or LGBTQ-themed movies, such as IDFA and IFFR. In addition, I started blogging and vlogging about the Amsterdam LGBTQ Film Festival, which is called De Roze Filmdagen in Dutch. De Roze Filmdagen then asked me to be a judge and help decide which of the nominated movies was going to receive the Best Feature Film Award. Naturally, I blogged and vlogged about this honor too, which happened three weeks before ClexaCon. Talk about perfect timing!
I also visited another LGBTQ event but unfortunately, this was a disaster. I was honest about that. Usually, I want people and their initiatives to succeed but if there are no visitors, how can you bring a positive story? In my opinion, honesty is the best policy and people appreciated it.
I started gaining more and more attention. For instance, I was asked to be a guest on an hour-long LGBTQ radio show. I was also asked to write guest blog posts, all on websites in my niche. Slowly but surely, people are figuring out what my blog and I are about!
Creating a professional network globally – step 4: Engaging in the conversation
Once you have stories that back up your authority, it becomes easier to engage in conversations about the relevant topic. Find the hashtag that is important to you. For me, it was an event. That means the official event hashtags (#ClexaCon and #ClexaCon2018) were great ways to engage with others and let people know that I would be there to blog and vlog.
I added photos and texts to the conversations on Twitter and Instagram, I responded to posts or responses from others active on the hashtags, and I followed them. Most importantly, I enjoyed every second of the conversations!
Talking about being at ease in front of the camera, I uploaded this sketch a month before ClexaCon:
Creating a professional network globally – step 5: Matching my social media channels
I wanted a new visual style for my blog. I created a new header for my blog and used that style for my new business cards. Matching offline and online marketing materials is important! I made sure my Twitter account and Instagram account (which I had only created last summer) had the same visuals.
For some reason, YouTube gave me problems. I could not upload channel art (or design my channel in any way) even though I had no problem with my other channel. It took me months to figure out the exact problem. The solution came AFTER ClexaCon, so that was one thing that could have gone better. All I had to do was change my language from Dutch to English; once I did that, all the options were available again. I can finally say that my YouTube channel matches all my other media outlets.
This way, my target audience recognizes me no matter where they see me online!
Creating a professional network globally – step 6: Taking online networking offline
As mentioned, I had ordered business cards. In addition, I created t-shirts with the Meemoeder.com logo on them. After all, meemoeder is not a word people not from The Netherlands know. So, that makes it extra hard for me to raise brand awareness abroad.
I figured that, since people had seen my website name in the conversations prior to the event, they would recognize it offline if they saw it on my t-shirt, matching my face with my website name. Also, they would recognize my blogs and vlogs after the event if they had seen me walking around in my shirt during the event.
It worked! I was tapped on the shoulder a few times; people told me that we followed each other on Twitter or Instagram and that they recognized me. Mission complete! I cannot even tell you the extent to which I enjoyed these conversations. Moreover, I received a message on Instagram during the event simply because someone saw my shirt. We met up that night!
Talking about having a hard time raising brand awareness abroad. My name is extremely hard to pronounce in English, so I always have a problem introducing myself in The United States. I figured, this time, I would turn this problem into something beautiful. I asked most of the actresses present at ClexaCon to pronounce my name, recorded it, and turned it into my YouTube trailer. You can find the result below!
Creating a professional network globally – step 7: Giving back
Of course, you cannot expect too much if you never give back to the people giving something to you. So, I retweet tweets from people whom I met during the event. I respond to their posts, I thank them when they share something I shared, and I share their latest articles when I find them. I want to build a sustainable relationship with them, so it only makes sense to give back!
Am I the biggest lesbian influencer of this moment? No, not at all. Have I established meaningful business relations? Yes, very much so. I see ClexaCon as a good starting point for Meemoeder.com’s global success. Do you have any tips for me on how I can increase that success? I would love to hear about it! Also, you can support me by subscribing to my YouTube channel!