How To Become An Indispensable Member Of An Online Community
The only way to stay in touch with 99% of the people in your life right now, is via technology. Unless you’re a healthcare professional, all you can do to be helpful to everyone is to stay home. The stay at home order works a little better for people like me who recharge by themselves.
I’m also aware that because I see my wife every day; I get my share of “people” — that’s often enough.
Even before this, it was probably hard for you to thrive as a part of a strong community — especially if you’re a digital content creator.
I’ve been lucky to join thriving digital movements and make friends because of my work online. I even got the chance to hang out with Cody Wanner — a father, husband, and glorious filmmaker who is a bright light in the world of digital influence.
The community Cody has built around the #nosmallcreator movement is an incredible source of love and support in these times.
Just moments earlier, the Cameroonian YouTuber community was able to push one of ours beyond the 1,000 subscriber mark. I felt so enthralled and pleased, as though it was my own channel getting the milestone.
If you’re like me, you believe in the power of community.
Maybe you’ve felt it before — during the weekend when go take videos with your photography friends, or on Facetime with your siblings spread out across the world. Or it might be a “small” writing group, like where I invited my friend Elena IRL.
Community is where I find the strength to keep going. It’s where I get inspiration, where I share my struggles and know that someone will always give me a hug (or splash a well-needed glass of water on my face so I can stop crying over things I can’t control).
So, how do you add value to a community you’re a part of? How do you ensure it’s a rewarding experience both for you and the people in it?
“Metcalfe’s Law states that the value of a network grows by the square of the size of the network. The law states that a network’s value increases with the size of the network. It is often cited in discussions about the value of the Internet. For example, if the network has 5 machines, its value would be 25 (5²=25), but if another network had 1000 machines, its value would be 1,000,000”. — Source.
There is power in numbers — quality numbers. I have noticed a few things to keep in mind as you participate in digital communities that could equally improve the value of the network.
1. Provide Value No Matter What
“Don’t let your special character and values, the secret that you know and no one else does, the truth — don’t let that get swallowed up by the great chewing complacency.”― Aesop
Almost every Facebook group has rules about not spamming or just taking from everyone. I think if everyone in the group simply did this one thing- focused on adding value — everyone in the group would rise to the top.
What does value look like?
To get you started, here’s what you can do:
Provide Actionable Feedback
When you critique a piece, say what works, what doesn’t and provide a solution. You probably know those people who only point out what is broken; don’t be that person.
Take the time to consume a piece of content or share your thoughts, but do it from a place of providing the kind of perspective that the receiver can use to grow
Give Credit Where It’s Due
Especially when the person is in the group. You have no idea how much we all need to hear that we do matters. Cody coming down to Pueblo was one of the highlights of 2019 for me.
Provide as many honest compliments as you can. You have no idea what people are going through and how that can be the boost they needed — especially in these dark times.
Share Thoughtful Ideas That Someone in the Group Can Use Based on What You’ve Observed About Them
This can be video ideas, topic ideas, or just pointing out a skill or talent that they may not have noticed. I call this “being the mirror we all need”.
Someone may be stuck creatively and a hint from your reflection could open up a sea of ideas.
As James Altucher suggests, send them a list of ideas. This is a powerful way to practice your idea muscle.
2. Become a Connector
“If you can introduce two people who are themselves great connectors then you become a meta-connector. They will meet and get along (connectors get along with each other for two reasons: they are naturally friendly people (hence their ability to connect so easily with people) AND they have a lot of friends in common almost by definition.)” — James Altucher
Do you know someone who would get value from meeting someone else digitally? Connect them.
Introduce them to each other ( after getting permission from both), say what you like about them. why you think they should connect, then — this is most important — get out of the way.
This means you have to consider carefully: what would this person benefit from working with this other person? Are they a good match? Do they have complementary skills? Could they be good friends?
This is a tricky one because your reputation is on the line. But guess what? If you can clearly express why you think people can work together, they’re very likely to try it out. And if they don’t work out, you have nothing to do with it. You left, remember?
What do you imagine happens if they work out great?
3. Learn to Take Too!
“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” — Elizabeth Gilbert
We often think that generosity only requires being able to give — of your time, your money, etc. You forget that to have someone help you, is letting them feel helpful.
We all want to feel that way.
Ask for help when you need it. You already know you can’t be spammy. You also know this can be scary — maybe you’ve never done this. This is why you have to remember that you’ve provided a tonne of value. You’ve connected people who are now friends.
So, yes, you too should give them the opportunity to provide value to you and to connect you to others who can become lifelong friends and collaborators.
As a member of a community, there are three steps you can take today to make you indispensable and increase the overall power of the community.
- Provide value as much as possible
- Become a connector of people
- Allow yourself to be helped — by asking.
We’re all holding on by the communities we’ve built through the internet and it’s a great time for these to thrive. We each have a responsibility to care for each other.
So, stay home, stay safe, and become an awesome community member.
You’re already in. Now, thrive.