I’ve been writing about Web3 – a term broadly used to describe the next phase of the internet – exclusively for over a year now, and one thing I’ve noticed is the emergence of empty buzzwords to describe vague concepts. But one of those buzzwords – “community” – is central to the mission of builders and investors in the space. Even when my screen-induced dopamine reservoirs evaporate, I still believe in the Web3 community, vibes and all.
This is a good thing because as a journalist I am decidedly now a part of the Web3 community. Some may poke fun at our frequent use of Twitter Spaces and proclivity for shorthand slang – “gm” is a catchall greeting you’ll likely see splattered across crypto Twitter at any given time. But beneath the Ape profile pictures and fast-paced hype cycles is a collective of people all contributing to the formation of a decentralized, blockchain-driven future.
Along my Web3 journey I’ve met interesting people, gained relevant career skills and fostered meaningful professional relationships. As the development of Web3 continues to expand, so too have the ways in which people can connect and form communities.
If you’re looking to find your place in the ever-evolving world of Web3, here are some ways to connect with like-minded individuals, pulling examples from my own experiences along with insight from industry professionals.
Explore social platforms
As communities continue to pop up across a fluid Web3 landscape, there are several platforms known for attracting large numbers of crypto enthusiasts.
Evolved from its early days as just a platform for short streams of consciousness, Twitter is now a popular platform for people to share news, create dialogue and find community. This is particularly true for the crypto-curious and Web3-native crowds, who have embraced functionalities like Twitter threads and Twitter Spaces to engage in dialogue with a global audience. Twitter Spaces can be especially useful for people who want to listen in on a conversation before diving in – the Clubhouse-style audio tool is a mix between an expert podcast and a multiway phone call with your peers.
You can also follow influential thought leaders and artists in the space, who are sometimes marked with a blue check mark to indicate that their identity has been verified by Twitter. It’s important to make sure you’re only following official accounts, as scammers are finding increasingly creative ways to impersonate influential figures on the internet.
If you’re looking for a list of who to follow on Twitter, Crypto Witch Club’s ultimate Web3 follow list is a great place to start. Blockchain software technology company ConsenSys has also compiled a list of 40 Twitter accounts that matter, while blockchain development platform Alchemy has a list of the top Web3 developers to follow.
Discord is another popular platform for degens (an affectionate crypto term short for “degenerates”) to communicate with one another. The video game communication platform created for online hangouts has been embraced by Web3 platforms and projects, many of which have a dedicated Discord server. To manage the flow of communication, these communities assign moderators, who are often volunteers or individuals who are personally vested in a particular project.
“To me, [volunteer moderators] are always impressive because you can see how much people care about these projects,” said Aleeza Howitt, head of business development at Cowri Labs, the creator of decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem Shell Protocol.
Along with Twitter and Discord, there are several other notable “Web2” platforms that seem to be maintaining their relevance among Web3 advocates. Reddit, a tried-and-true community forum launched in 2005, is still a go-to place where crypto enthusiasts can crowdsource information and find subcommunities tailored to their interests. In July, Reddit launched an NFT marketplace and the platform recently made headlines for boasting more than 2.5 million active crypto wallets.
Similarly, Meta – the parent company of Facebook and Instagram – has embraced digital collectibles on its platform, with Instagram now testing minting and selling NFTs for a select group of U.S. creators.
And while established social media platforms adapt to new blockchain technologies, decentralized social media alternatives that use more censorship-resistant storage methods and crypto payment rails are also cropping up. For some, these platforms function as solutions to what many in the Web3 space consider to be a legacy of privacy violations and data overreach from social media mega-corporations.
Decentralized social media options are mostly still in the startup phase, though early waitlists are said to be brimming with enthusiastic first movers. For instance, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s decentralized social network, Bluesky, reportedly received 30,000 signups last month. Meanwhile, other Web3 social platforms have been gaining a steady user base of regular contributors, such as the decentralized publishing platform Mirror, which offers an alternative to tools like Medium, Substack or WordPress.
Finally, while the metaverse as a concept is still in its infancy, there are several blockchain-based platforms like Mona, Decentraland or The Sandbox that host regular community events and offer virtual hangout spaces featuring personalized avatars. In fact, a number of metaverse art galleries, virtual worlds and music festivals continue to pop up across these platforms.
Look for IRL meetups and local events
If you live in a major city anywhere in the world, chances are sites like Meetup.com can offer a menu of in-real-life (IRL) events nearby. Sure, it may seem a little analog – why connect with your neighbors when you can learn inside the metaverse? – but even Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has been to a local meetup at the University of Toronto.
Of course, plenty of online-only networking opportunities exist for the Web3-curious (webinars and Zoom hangouts are still popular options.) But when possible it’s helpful to connect in person with people in your geographic area. That way you can discuss your city’s unique regulatory environment as it pertains to crypto, as well as brainstorm possible Web3 use cases for what your local community needs. You may even meet developers or professors from local universities, along with regional policymakers, who are likely building the foundations of Web3.
Connecting IRL is also a way to combat the inevitable computer-chair tech-neck that comes with the Web3 lifestyle while bridging the gap between digital and physical interactions.
And if there’s no meetup in your area, you can start one. Years ago, Howitt ran a New York City meetup group, which drew a small but passionate crowd. Regardless of the turnout, she says the one-on-one conversations were well worth her time.
“We only had two or three people there,” she said, adding that she’s now best friends with one of the attendees. “He is now one of my very close friends in the space,” she said. “So even if your meetup has only two people, those two people are going to have a lot to talk about.”
Attend a crypto conference
Beyond your local community, it might be worth engaging with global communities of thought leaders, NFT artists, startups, affinity groups, developers, marketing specialists and art collectors by attending one of the many crypto conferences that have popped up in recent years.
There were at least 137 Web3-focused conferences globally in 2022, according to a spreadsheet curated by Crypto Nomads Club, a community for digital nomads and frequent travelers who meet at various crypto events around the world. The events can vary in price, and can range anywhere from free to $5,000 for VIP access passes. Frequently, attendees have the option to pay for their tickets in either fiat currency or crypto.
Many of these conferences also have satellite events planned around them, creating additional opportunities for networking with Web3 professionals. For example, in the Crypto Nomads Club spreadsheet the tabs for the last two conferences – DevCon and ETH Lisbon – contain between 100 and 120 satellite events each. Some seasoned crypto professionals may even forgo buying tickets to the official conference when satellite events are often good opportunities to make connections, said Howitt.
“There are always satellite events,” she said. In fact, traveling to conference cities with an open mind acted as a catalyst for Howitt’s current tech career: “I was staying with friends, and I ended up going to [blockchain] conferences. And I've continued that tradition now. It's my job now.”
Most early blockchain conferences and hackathons – collaborative coding events – grew from Web3’s cypherpunk tradition, Howitt added, starting from the first-ever Ethereum developer’s symposium, DevCon 0, in 2014. Things have evolved over the years, and today you can find conferences tailored to different subcommunities in Web3, like Bitcoin Miami, ETH Devnver, NFT.NYC and DeFiCon.
In the weeks before or after these conferences there are often events known as hacker houses, or mini tech incubators, lasting a few days or weeks. Ecosystems and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO) often sponsor hacker houses to incentivize developers by having them compete for project funding. Most still boast a collaborative and friendly spirit, such as the H.E.R. DAO hacker house at the Avalanche Summit in Barcelona, which funded 25 women developers.
Dive deep with an online educational group
Education is hugely important in Web3, even for so-called experts. As the space continues to grow and change, countless online groups have sprung up to help onboard newcomers and discuss industry updates.
Several low or no-cost educational groups exist that can connect you to hundreds of peers at whatever level you may be at. These groups typically host online Zoom sessions, throw IRL parties, arrange conference meetups, produce podcasts, hold Twitter Spaces and more. They also crack some jokes from time to time.
You can start with a free newsletter, such as CoinDesk’s new Learn Crypto Investing newsletter. Look for both general educational platforms and affinity groups built for and by people you relate to. Women and non-binary people can check out educational groups like Boys Club, Eve Wealth, BFF and SheFi. Members of the Latinx community can find resources at Web3 Familia, founded by OP Crypto venture partner, Christian Narvaez and co-founders Orlando Gomez, Francisco Izaguirre and Magdalena Madrigal.
“Web3 Familia is an educational community focused on Latinos globally,” Narvaez told CoinDesk. “We're Latino-focused, but we're not Latino-exclusive. We do everything in both Spanish and English. We also interact with others, so there's a broad network that goes beyond just the Latino community.”
Apply for funding through blockchain ecosystems
For more advanced Web3 users with big ideas for a new protocol or decentralized application (dapp), blockchain ecosystems typically have a pool of resources to help jumpstart a project. As an investor himself, Narvaez encourages all first-time founders to seek grant funding or enroll in an incubator program before pitching your ideas to venture capitalists (VC). Becoming a grant recipient of one of the big blockchain players is not only a great way to find fellow builders and embed yourself within an ecosystem, it has financial upsides, too.
“[Ecosystems like] Near, Polygon, Solana and Ethereum have grants for projects to have their initial kickoff,” Narvaez said. He suggests using these grants to build a minimum viable product (MVP), or a “rough draft” version of your dApp for early use. That way, founders can keep as much equity in their project as possible later on.
Once you’ve tested and proven your idea, you might seek out VC money from Web3-focused firms, assuming you’ve done the legwork, have a good product and foster the appropriate relationships. “I happily engage and help in any way possible,” said Narvaez, “whether it's connecting people to our venture team for funding possibilities, and if it doesn't fit the thesis of the fund, [potentially] connecting with other VCs in the ecosystem.”
Use your best judgment and DYOR
While these tips may open new channels for community building, engaging in online discourse may also invite scammers or spam into your inbox. Use the hashtag #NFT or #NFTCommunity on either Twitter or Instagram and it may trigger a deluge of bots sliding into your DMs asking for the private keys to your crypto wallet (which you should keep safe and never give to anyone). Not to mention the alarming number of fake crypto accounts across every social media platform, the nightmarish rug pull scams and market-swaying TikTok virality – all of which have, at least once, caused me to wake in a cold sweat.
Crypto investing is not for the faint of heart, but building and making relationships should be fun and stress-free. Some days, engaging with the crypto community feels like swimming with sharks (or their more benign cousins, the crypto whales). On other days, I feel proud to be associated with the collective of internet users working to align the future of our monetary system with prosocial principles. It’s important to remember that many people believe that Web3 is a long game, and making relationships along the way is ultimately more fruitful than getting lost in the hype (and proceeding crashes).
There’s a popular phrase in the crypto community – DYOR – which aptly stands for “do your own research.” Personally, I attend Web3 events with a few healthy boundaries in place and maintain similar levels of skepticism and curiosity in most virtual-first interactions. Remember that the Web3 community is driven by a small but growing number of technologists, developers, founders and other curious minds who value financial sovereignty, institutional transparency and data privacy. And if that sounds like you, then you’ve got a seat at our table.