"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Friday, February 01, 2008

Storyteller's Social Networking: Top Three Sites

The Internet has a way of rolling out the red carpet for professional storytellers to network and make the right connections with colleagues or potential sponsors for gigs.

The number of free social networking sites can be overwhelming, though there are three that support storytellers the best:

  1. Professional Storyteller through Ning

  2. LinkedIn

  3. Facebook

Professional Storyteller through Ning
This site was created on January 24, 2008 and already displays much potential in its activity and membership. Dianne de Las Casas, known as a marketing guru in the storytelling world, said that this network “is for professional storytellers, people who make their living in the field of professional storytelling—performance storytellers, workshop leaders, teaching artists, recording artists, and authors.” Of course, if your goal is to become one of these kinds of people, then your participation is welcome.

Once you sign up and create a password, you have a page for your profile. You can give a link to your website as well as write some paragraphs about your background much like online directories found through some storytelling guilds or art councils. Your picture can be uploaded so viewers can put a face to a name.

Under the forum option, you are able to get an almost “Dear Abby” advice column feel from fellow storytellers. If you want to find stories for a certain holiday and are unsure where to look, you can post your request on the forum. If you want to share marketing ideas that work for performing artists, then you can ask for guidance. Anything you want to ask relating to the art, you are invited to share.

Other benefits include downloading video or audio samples of your stories, sharing pictures in a slideshow format for your colleagues and potential sponsors to see, and keeping in touch with tellers around the world.

Beyond connecting with professional storytellers, this site allows you to reach 150 plus industries, as it promotes “your professional relationships are key to your professional success”.

This is a chance for you to “be found” by potential sponsors. Over 17 million professionals already use this site so can you imagine how many would love to meet a professional storyteller?

If you are a storyteller who wants to build your connections in the education field, then you could meet principals, teachers, professors and more through LinkedIn. Performing for company celebrations could be a more common venue for you.

When signing up, you will be encouraged to invite others to join the site as your “connections”. These should be people you know well and could recommend to others if asked about them. Being part of LinkedIn already has the impression that you will open your network to others so that others could help you.

Part of your profile page on LinkedIn includes a recommendation section in which you could praise peers or peers could compliment you for all Internet surfers to see. Testimonials sometimes are easier to ask from others when part of a social network.

As your connections/friends invite others to LinkedIn, then you are able to view whoever your friends know. If you would like to be introduced to someone your friend knows, then you can send an email request. Suddenly a stranger can become an acquaintance and, eventually, could transform into a friend. The likelihood of a storyteller being hired by an acquaintance or a friend is much higher than being hired by a stranger.

You will find more success with this social networking tool if you are willing to share your contacts before you ask to be introduced to others.

Started up by college students in a dorm room, this social network has rocketed in popularity to over 20 million people. Many schools and colleges use it as a way to have an online yearbook since pictures and videos could be posted. As a storyteller, you could use these same features to promote your art. As in the other networking sites of Professional Storyteller and LinkedIn, you invite others to be your friends.

I enjoy the “Events” part of Facebook where I can announce my storytelling concerts and workshops. I can send specific online invitations to these events to my friends on Facebook (with request of RSVPs) or even to the whole Facebook network.

Wherever you live, you can choose a network so that people nearby could see your storytelling events whether a “friend” or not. For example, I am part of the Ogden, Utah network. Any other person who chose the Ogden, Utah network could click on “Events” and see my listings.

If you ever wanted a type of fan club for your storytelling, this is the perfect venue to build one. After a performance for an 18-30-year-old group, you can announce that you have a Facebook account and that you would like to keep in touch if they sign up on your email list.

Several applications are available to download to make your Facebook page a fun place to visit from virtual aquariums to digital growing plants to activities that promote storytelling. My Facebook page has the application “StoryLine”, which allows me to write a couple sentences to kick off a story while another person continues the same story with a few more sentences. This group storytelling experience could go on forever. Meanwhile, you may develop some great story material for performances.

Finally, you can join other groups that spark your interest. I have chosen to join groups connected to storytelling like the following:

Storytellers in the Facebook Universe

The Society for Storytelling

World Storytelling Day

New Voices Storytelling

Storytelling for Children

Fan Club for the Art of Storytelling with Children Podcast

So whether you join one or more social networking sites, the advancement of your art is inevitable. By connecting to one person you connect to the world.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance
(801) 870-5799


Tim said...

The best online social network to join?
The one where your clients are.

If your audiences are primarily college students in the United States, then, yes, Facebook is probably a good bet to start a fan club.

But MySpace has a larger user base. As musicians and stand up comedians alike can tell you, it's a terrific place to build an audience. MySpace has twice the reach of Facebook, and recent growth has been in adults over the age of 35 (it's not all teenagers there).

But your audience might be on Friendster, or Orkut, or Bebo. If they are there, you should be there.

And for now, no online social network has the collective brain power of the Storytell list, for storytelling. It has no bells and whistles, and effectively no archives, but it's a strong and resilient virtual network (most of whom have no interest in moving to Professional Storyteller or LinkedIn). For storytellers wishing to connect with peers, whether to get advice on microphones, contracts, stories about bugs, GPS systems, tie-ins to school curriculum, the Storytell list is the de facto go-to network.

Professional Storyteller Rachel Hedman said...

Dear Tim:

Ahhhh--what a wise answer. The best online social network is where your clients are.

I never thought of the Storytell List as a social networking site (SNS), though there is a homebase to look at entries. You cannot send invitations like a SNS, but you can ask people to join.

I have to remember that many of my sponsors are from another generation than me so they may still be loyal to listserves. A healthy balance of listserves and social networking sites is needed--for the time being. Eventually listserves will be tools of the past.

I want to experience beyond the written word found in listserves. I want color and sound and action--qualities found among social networking sites.

I may not use all the bells and whistles found on Professional Storyteller (through Ning), LinkedIn, or Facebook, but I love having the options.

The ultimate networking experience, though, is similar to the ulitmate storytelling experience. You can turn the shows into CDs or books or a number of other mediums. When it comes down to it, the live storytelling version is best. Live networking is also the best, but that often involves major transportation, lodging and registration costs for the conferences or gatherings you attend.

Social networking sites are one of the cheapest ways to build quality relationships.

For someone new to social networking sites, I would limit the number to three sites. As a rhythm is established, then other sites could be explored. Most people become loyal to one or two sites and ignore the rest despite the fact that they established users names and passwords everywhere.

So--as you said--go to the social networking sites where you find your clients. Choose your sites carefully and participate at a fairly consistent level. Otherwise, what is the point of creating an account?

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
(801) 870-5799

Mike said...

Rachel, this is very helpful information. Thanks!