I don’t usually get the chance to meet people I admire in the blogging sphere, but today gave me just that opportunity.  Ali Hale, my favorite blogger, mentioned she was going to BlogWorld, a convention for Internet writers and social media experts here in Las Vegas.  Ali Hale has been my role model for several months now, not least of which because she is doing exactly what I want to be doing – making a living by writing.  She writes for several blogs I admire, maintains a blog space all her own, and just finished a Masters in creative writing with an eye on finishing a novel.  She’s living a life that I love, and she told me a little about how she got there over coffee.

Ali Hale’s card among a stack of others I collected.  Her blog style is as personal as her card.

Ali isn’t my first role model.  I’ve searched for them and studied my entire life – from writing my first short stories to learning how to swim as an adult to managing a team of software developers for the first time.  In my opinion, if you’re serious about picking up a career, choosing a lifestyle, or just plain learning a hobby, you should look for role models.  Find people who are doing what you’re doing and learn from them.  Why make stupid beginner mistakes or swim blindly through something that someone else has done before?

If you’re in the market for a role model or two, but are stuck in the search process, here are some places to find them:

  • Through Blogs (and other Articles). I wasn’t looking for Ali specifically when I found her.  Instead, I was trying to learn as much as I could in order to properly spread the word about Fellowstream, and Ali’s name came up.  I added her blog to my reader feed and found myself delighted whenever I read something with her name attached.
  • Through Friends of Friends.  Social sites like Facebook, Twitter and even professional sites like LinkedIn allow you to comb through your friends’ lists to see who they know.  I’ve “met” a lot of people by just seeing who they know and following them through these channels.
  • Special Interest Groups.  Whether online or offline, groups of people with similar interests abound.  You can find a master at a local Meet Up or online forums that cater to whatever you’re trying to learn.
  • Talk to the People you Already Know. You never know what secret hobbies your family, friends, and co-workers have…until you start getting to know them better.  I’ve met more closet entrepreneurs and dreamers while launching Fellowstream than I ever thought existed.  These people have done research of their own and can help you find information and role models since they’ve done the work for you already.

It can take awhile to find the right role models, and I’ll admit, I’ve had to let a few go in my time.  Even the ones I don’t actively follow anymore, though, taught me useful things along the way and helped me build my own brand.  Don’t get me wrong: I still make some “newbie” mistakes and don’t always follow their example, but they have also helped me uncover opportunities I never saw before.

-Deborah Fike

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