10 Commandments for Building an Echo Chamber

Around the country people are discussing how they can build more entrepreneurial communities that in some ways represent what Silicon Valley has. While each city has its own uniqueness the bottom line is that we want companies and entrepreneurs with more funding, investors that are willing to take risks and media that boasts about the local companies. Frequently the only thing that’s lacking is an echo chamber that can amplify the signal of that city on a national scale.

So how can your city duplicate things that are going on in Silicon Valley and San Francisco while retaining its own personality? The answer is simple: build an echo chamber. So here is how you can build an echo chamber for your city and avoid businesses resembling the “web 2.0 social media eyeball-collecting applications,” that “don’t want to worry about boring details like revenues, and hope to either flip to Google for an early $20 million or get that Facebook billion-dollar valuation” as Robby Russel describes.

  1. Create a linking love fest – The first trick to building an echo chamber is to act like nothing goes on outside of your city. That’s why with every post you write, you should be linking to bloggers in your city. Create a list of all local bloggers that are in your city that talk about similar topics (even if not identical) and find a reason to start linking to them.
  2. Make everyone blog – They say it takes a town to raise a child. I would say that it takes a city to create an echo chamber and the center of that echo chamber takes place on the blogs. How does this differentiate from a linking love fest? Not everybody blogs and it’s your community’s duty to make sure everyone starts writing so with every opportunity you have make sure that you find out what the people around you are blogging about and if they aren’t blogging make sure they begin.
  3. Build central station – One of the largest challenges for cities looking to unite is the lack of unity. Building a central place with job listings, discussion, links to community members and resource guides is extremely important. If people outside of the city don’t have a single place to see what’s going on in your city, then there is no way to convince them that there is a lot going on.
  4. Make up lingo – This is an awesome way to build buzz for somebody in your city while also putting your city on the map. Example: “Web 2.0”. People still have trouble describing what it is because it took Tim O’Reilly 5 pages and a chart to explain what it is. People still don’t know what it is but thousands of people still flock to Web 2.0 Expo and Web 2.0 Summit every year to find out more about it. Have one of your people come up with a phrase and have everyone in your city’s blogs start using the phrase on a regular basis. The more people use it, the more it becomes ubiquitous and finally your city has coined a phrase.
  5. Make the media listen – If your local media companies aren’t paying attention to what’s going on in your community, make sure they start listening. Contact them at every opportunity and let them no what’s going on. If nobody is doing PR for your community then the mainstream outside of your community knows nothing about it.
  6. Talk about your community – Publicity is the battle of noise and whoever is making the most noise frequently gets the attention of others. There are local companies that are creating new innovations everyday and while the same thing is going on in Silicon Valley, most people know about the Valley but don’t know what is going on in your community. Tell the world as much as possible about where you live and the companies that shape your community. It honestly doesn’t even matter what your opinion of those companies are it just matters that you are talking about them.
  7. Promote local events – Is your city made up of a bunch of bloggers that sit behind their computer and write all day and have nothing else to do? No! There are events taking place around the city everyday and many of them pertain to your industry. Get out to as many events as possible and make sure that you promote them heavily. How do you this? Blog about the event, take photos, upload the photos to your blog, Flickr and Facebook. Put tags for all the pictures, etc and then go and bookmark those photos on social bookmarking sites. Everybody needs to know that if you are looking for a fun time, your city is where it’s going on. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at photos of events going on in other cities and have wished I was there. The same thing happens to the people in other cities and they are going to want to come to come visit your community.
  8. Make others feel like they missed out – Anytime something happens and people aren’t there, tell them they missed out. This way they have to come the next time. Even if the event had only two attendees, you need to make people feel like they are missing something. If you paint a picture of a community for others, then the community will slowly begin to build itself in their minds even if it doesn’t exist. Grab random people and take pictures with them, especially attractive people. Like I said in the last rule, you need to make people feel like they missed out on an awesome event. Take pictures of people having fun or looking like they are having fun and you are good to go!
  9. Support Others – Even if you think somebody is wrong, it doesn’t matter how wrong they are as long as they say it convincingly. Promote those that you think that make convincing arguments even if you disagree. It shows connection within the community. It doesn’t matter if others think you and the people you are supporting are wrong, all that matters is that they hear you. Take every opportunity to support those in your community no matter how ridiculous their arguments are (this is for all communities outside of political communities).
  10. Be a Superstar -Building the echo chamber requires that everybody in the community is a superstar in their own right. Be optimistic, help connect others and take every opportunity you have to support others when you can. Building an echo chamber requires the help of a city and everybody in it. That’s why you need to take every opportunity to help not to hurt. If you have nothing good to say then go move to a different city in another country far, far away (just joking). Seriously though it is your duty to help your city, so help it.

There are plenty of other ways to help but this is a great way to get a headstart. Once you begin living by the 10 commandments of an echo chamber city you are well on your way to helping build the next Silicon Valley in your town! While it won’t be the same as Silicon Valley, it will be a loud city that people around the country know about and that’s all that matters.