This post is part of the BlogHop Blog Conference at Home. To see the full agenda of learning sessions visit Blog Conference Newbie.

When I first started blogging four years ago, I was a bit of an anomaly in my community. I knew of no one else “in real life” who blogged or participated in social media.

As much as I loved it, I really craved someone to relate to. I am a relationship person. I thrive on friendships and collaboration.

Then as chance would have it, I happened across a loose network of bloggers in the Maryland area. Just a handful of ladies searching for something similar to I.  What started out as a lucky meeting on Twitter with a handful of women, blossomed into network of bloggers in six states and a new initiative affectionately dubbed Momz Share.

The principal of forming relationships is nothing new in the blogosphere. We do it all the time over the wonderful world wide web. That being said, there is no denying that personal relationships are strengthened tenfold when maintained by consistent  face-to-face interactions.

The benefits of developing your own hyper-local network:

  • Deep personal connections
  • A tribe to lean on, outreach to and identify with
  • Real-life friendships

Not convinced you need a hyper-local concentration yet? Then let me enlighten you on how I have been blessed by my relationships with some of the fantastic folks I have met locally:  a feature article in a statewide magazine, speaking engagements in front of numerous professional organizations, a blog in the Washington Times community,  a full scholarship to BlogHer, an online webshow, a brand ambassadorship, numerous complimentary family opportunities and on and on…  The largest benefit however, has been the friendship and camaraderie with my peers. Priceless.

So how do you even begin to find your local tribe when the Internet is such a vast, crazy place?

  • Local and statewide publications. Check for family or niche bloggers on their sites and connect with them on their respective social networks. (Start a spreadsheet. I’m not kidding. Start one. I did.)
  • Ask! Take to Twitter, Facebook or Google + and ask around. Find folks through recommendations.
  • Search through various blog and online directories. Add them to your spreadsheet. (Yes, the spreadsheet again. Stick with me, there is a method to this madness.)Now that you have found and connected with some of these folks….

    Work that connection: In this harried work it is easy to unintentionally drop a connection, be sure to invest time in those relationships. And remember, this gang is local so you can (gasp!) get their phone number. (What a crazy concept, right?) Networking is key!

    Organize something:  Don’t dream about the opportunity – create it! Organize a coffee meeting, play date, girl’s night out, Tweet-up, brunch or workshop.  Expending a little effort for the benefit of others will pay off in spades. If you are shy about putting yourself out there, reach out to me about using the Momz Share platform.  (If you kept a spreadsheet, your outreach will be easier. Just sayin’)

    Form partnerships: Hyper-local is a huge trend in blogging. Explore opportunities to pair up on projects to provide value to your readers and community. (Heck, start a local publication! Hey, AOL is doing it…)

    Expand your content: Start a new blog, add a local section to your website or weave location into your titles. I frequently start hyper-local posts with titles like “DC Readers: Great Deal At …..” It will expand your opportunities and thus your network.

    You’ll find that in reaching out to those closest to you, you’ll not only build a sense of community but also reap tremendous personal rewards. Now get out there and GO LOCAL!

    Jennifer Gerlock is co-founder of Momz Share along with Lara DiPaola and Sunday Stillwell. MomzShare is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to connect  bloggers and social media mavens in the MD, VA, DC region while also giving back to charity.