The Developmental Breakdown: Online Networking

In “Service Means Citizenship” and “Basics of Audience-Building,” I explore the ways in which we get out of a community what we put into it. Most of us think of the ideal audience as unconditionally supportive, and most of us tend to think of our ideal professional community in more or less the same way. In a practical world, ideals like these are fundamentally unattainable. What we can do is steer our communities in that direction, and our most effective tool for doing so is leadership by example.

These principles apply to online forums like Linked In, Slated, and the IMDb just as surely as they apply to production teams, performance ensembles, and film co-ops. Most people approach these communities as a spamming ground, and we give up on these communities in frustration when our solicitations fail to yield the resources we need. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with pitching, this specific sales method ignores two critical truths:

First, placing demands of any kind on a relationship creates stress, no matter how minimal that stress may be. To an extent, any discomfort people feel at receiving proposals from strangers is their problem. At the same time, we all need to take responsibility for how our needs are impacting the community as a whole…

Check out the rest of this piece by WMMer Tennyson Stead.