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I follow a lot of writers’ blogs looking for advice and inspiration. I correspond with quite a few of them, too. I’ve found that there are some writers out there who are genuinely interested in helping others improve their craft. Jeff Goins is one of them. Most recently I responded to a post by Jeff on his blog (http://tribewriters.com) about what platforms are and how to build them. I’ll give you an excerpt from my email to him:

cornfield photo by Peter Griffin

If I build it, will they come?

“I’m tribe-less, Jeff. I’ve created my platform, but I think James Earl Jones was wrong. You can build it, but that doesn’t mean they’ll come.”

Jeff didn’t pull any punches. Here’s an excerpt from his reply:

“You’re right. You need more than a cornfield in Iowa.”

Jeff claims that none of us is tribe-less. It’s simply a matter of finding our tribe and then having the courage to lead them. That’s a two-fold process, isn’t it?

I’m working on finding my tribe. That’s what I’m building here. Nick Thacker (http://livehacked.com) calls this my home base. That’s a good analogy. I’d like people to be comfortable here, touch base and branch off to other tabs then come back again to this one. But honestly, I don’t care what the terminology is. Call my viewers a tribe, call my page a home base. Call me an alien and my blog my home planet. It doesn’t much matter to me as long as certain core principles are met. Are we connecting? Are we exchanging ideas? Are you learning from me? I used to be an English professor; I think I have some wisdom to impart. I just need to reach people (or my tribe) and connect with them.

The second thing I need to do is lead. I can do that. I did that when I taught, I can do it again. But it was so much easier then. I had the benefit of eye contact with which to build a rapport with my students. And, frankly, I started in a position of authority. The college told the students I was the subject matter expert, and in that room, I was. On the Internet, I’m competing with millions if not billions of other people for attention. Why would anyone listen to my voice?

Because no one sounds quite like me.

I can’t promise you that I have all the answers. I can’t promise I even know all the questions. I’ve learned a lot. I learn more every day, and I’m happy to share it with all of you. It’s going to be fun working on all of this together. Your challenge today: update your home base. Reach out to your tribe. You’re already on the Internet. Go on… talk to them. They’re waiting for you.

Maybe James Earl Jones wasn’t wrong, after all.

photo credit: Peter Griffin

<a href=”http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=3673&picture=cornfield”>Cornfield</a> by Peter Griffin