This is my 1,000th post on {grow}.

So I wondered … what should I do to commemorate this?  Should I give away presents like Oprah? Should I honor my community in some way?  Should I just ignore it and carry on?

I asked some of my friends on Facebook and the general consensus was that they wanted me to write a reflective piece on what I have learned, my expectations when I wrote post number one, and the challenges of success.

I started answering these questions a dozen times but it just seemed like a bunch of self-centered navel gazing so I quit. Maybe I’ll get to these subjects another time but I think the focus today needs to be placed on the {grow} community. You see, it takes a lot of work to create that many blog posts, but it would not be successful without you.

In my brief period of {grow} nostalgia (about an hour!), I looked down the list of subscribers and wanted to find the people who have subscribed to my blog for the longest period of time. Who was here first?  Who has stuck with me the longest?

This was a revealing exercise and a lesson in building a blog community. The people who were there at the beginning are still there today. In fact. we’re all good friends! We were “baby bloggers” together and went out of our way to support each other when the rest of the world did not seem to be listening.

I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate 1,000 blog posts by honoring the people who encouraged me and supported me from the very beginning. Here are the original 10 {grow} readers, and here are their stories. And at the end … yes … I will give away some prizes : ) 

John Bottom — John is a director at the Base One Marketing Agency in London. When I was just starting out, he was already a big deal with a huge, lively following and wonderfully insightful blog posts. I clung to John as an example of how I needed to operate on the social web — in a caring, classy, and responsive way.  He was the first social media celebrity to begin tweeting my blog posts and I am forever grateful for that. I had the chance to meet John in London in 2012, which was quite a thrill.

Jayme Soulati — Jayme is a PR and communications dynamo from Ohio and one of my first Twitter friends. I will take credit for being the one to beg Jayme to begin her blog and once she started she found her great love. I remember her telling me that blogging was now the favorite part of her job. She stood by me in the early days and I had tears in my eyes when I met her for the first time at Social Slam in 2010. In fact, the day before the event a speaker cancelled and she graciously filled in!

Jenn Whinnem — Jenn is a passionate young woman and her firey posts caught my attention back in 2009. We collaborated on a couple of projects and she taught me a lesson that resulted in one of the the most humbling and emotional blog posts I’ve ever written: “Social Media and the Big Conversation Fail.” She has been a wonderful supporter and has contributed many amazing comments to the community!

Mark Schaefer and Jon BuscallJon Buscall — An intellect with the heart of an artist, Jon and I are social media soul mates. We have similar backgrounds and hold many of the same values when it comes to teaching and working on the web. I think he holds the record for the most guest posts on {grow} (aside from the paid regular bloggers). When I visited Stockholm, I spent a cafe day with Jon. And that, my friends is the best part of social media.

kristen daukas

Kristen Daukas – One of the most fun and big-hearted professionals I know. Mom, entrepreneur, ass-kicker.  We have collaborated in a number of ways but the most fun was speaking at her awesome Converge South conference in North Carolina. It was one of my very first keynote speeches. If you look really closely, Kristen’s picture is in the Tao of Twitter.

steve doddSteve Dodd – Nobody has commented more often that Steve. He has been the rock of this community since day one. I really think he was the first one to see the potential of what was happening on {grow} and I am so indebted to him for his continuous encouragement.  He is the only person among “the originals” I have not met, but not for lack of trying!

Amy Howell – When I started exploring Twitter, it was hard to miss Amy since most tweets ended with !!!!!!!  This became known as the Exclamy style of tweeting. She has been a tireless and and passionate supporter of the blog … and really everything I do. Amy has been a trusted adviser and friend from the beginning. She is a super-connector who has been featured in two of my books, and introduced me to so many wonderful colleagues like Anne Gallaher, Glen Gilmore, and Kent Huffman. And she is going to be the emcee for Social Slam this year!

billy mitchellBilly Mitchell – A few years ago, Billy had a strange strategy for getting attention. His avatar featured him posing with this huge fish. He kept popping up everywhere and you couldn’t help but notice this guy with the fish. We started connecting over Twitter and the blog and soon became close friends. We have collaborated on many projects and his ability to spin a tale and the fact that he understands my jokes makes him my favorite business partner. His B2B Agency MLT Creative is simply an inspiration.

kimmo linkamaKimmo Linkama – How cool is it that, through Twitter, I have a great friend in Estonia?  Kimmo Linkama is the first person I ever interviewed on {grow} and the only person I have interviewed twice, primarily because he has a such a musical name.  Estonia is an awesome place with a progressive economy and Kimmo is leading the B2B marketing charge in the region. In this photo, I am visiting with Kimmo in Estonia’s capital of Talinn.

michelle chmielewskiMichelle Chmielewski – Of all the people I have met, the story of how I connected with Michelle is probably my favorite, and a highlight of the The Tao of Twitter and many of my classes. I recognized Michelle’s simply brilliant talent when she was a grad student and she has gone on to be a bright star on the European marketing scene. Some of her videos have had more than a million YouTube views. I know talent when I see it! I met Michelle in real life in Paris in 2011 and we continue to support each other whenever we can.

Here’s the lesson threaded through all these little stories.  Many beginning bloggers think they will hit it big by getting noticed by an A-Lister.  They long for that one tweet of a blog post that will propel them to the big time. It does not work like that, and in fact there are no shortcuts to social media success.

Don’t wait for lightning to strike. Build your own tribe. Find your own little group of people who love you for who you are, support each other, and build from there.  It’s hard to say how big my tribe is today but it all started with these 10 people. And no matter what happens to me or the blog, I know those folks — and now dozens of others I have met along the way — will still be my friends.  Perhaps this is the year you and I will meet, too!

Thank you, thank you, thank you one and all for reading my blog.

Now, on to the prizes!

I would like to give everyone a chance to celebrate and participate in this 1,000 post milestone, so I’m giving away:

  • Five copies of Return On Influence (one copy x five winners)
  • Five copies of The Tao of Twitter (one copy x five winners)
  • Five copies of Born to Blog (a new book I have not even announced yet!)
  • A chance to write your own guest post on {grow}.
  • A free one-hour phone consulting session on any marketing topic of your choice (or we can just hang out!)
  • Five free subscriptions to my social media tutorial video series “Social Media from Scratch.”
  • Five free tickets to Social Slam (America’s finest social media conference April 5 in Knoxville – one ticket x five winners)

Here’s how the drawing works.  Send me ONE email at info at businessesGROW.com.  Include the ONE prize you want to try to win in the subject line and your physical mailing address in the body of the email.  At the end of February, I will have an independent CPA randomly select from the submissions and award the prizes to the winners. There will be a lot of submissions so I can’t let everybody know if you lose, but I will let you know March 01, 2012 if you win.

The train is leaving the station again.  Next stop … 2,000 posts!

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