Yesterday, I wrote about the benefits that you receive by participating in a community. But, the term “community” implies both take and give, a two-way street. What can you do to give back to the community?
- Make comments on blog posts. Ask questions or provide references to related information. Bloggers love to get comments.
- Start your own blog. Contribute to the community by providing your own take on the issues. It doesn’t matter if 10 or 10,000,000 people read it. At least you have started a dialogue, and you never know where it might take you. Position yourself as a thought leader. Try Blogger or WordPress (where I host this blog).
- Volunteer for local organizations, events. This is a great way to get to know some of the people behind the scenes.
- Be a guest speaker at a local school or college. Provide career advice, talk about trends in the field.
- Just be generally helpful. If you know of a position or opportunity, and you don’t necessarily fit the bill, spread the word. Karma is a valuable tool in this world.
- Encourage others to participate in the community. The more the merrier, and the more robust a community, the more valuable it will ultimately be to its members.
- Join social networks that are part of the community. It is often difficult to comprehend the scope of a community, but social networks provide a way to organize and mobilize members.
- Start your own social network. Maybe you have identified an untapped niche, a group that you can mobilize on your own. Try Ning.com. I started my own social network for former students at webpubnet.ning.com. It gives me a way to keep in touch, provide current information, and communicate job leads.
And, once again, have fun. Where “networking” implies something artificial and insincere, “community” implies something natural and organic. Participate because you want to, not because you feel you have to. And, your enthusiasm will be recognized.