When I was early in my college career, I was drowning. I was getting my math degree and while math had come naturally for me my entire life, I was finally getting to topics that no longer came so naturally for me. In an act of desperation, I sent out an email to one of my classes asking if anyone wanted to get together for a study group. The response I got was astounding. I gained friends there that would help me get through the program and that I would keep my entire life.
Many psychological studies show that being involved in a community can lead to greater participation, perceived safety, ability to function competently in the community, social bonding, and a greater sense of purpose. I can’t express how important this is but it can be a little daunting to make the first step. Here are some things to remember:
1) Put yourself out there.
The internet is a great anonymous place where you can find anyone – someone who shares your love of egg whites, knitting, or even that enjoyment you get from tearing glue off your fingers. Whatever it is, someone is there with similar likes and dislikes as you. Find them and don’t be afraid to share your quirks with them as well.
Consider this as you would any relationship. Your friends like it when you call even when you can’t hang out for the whole day. Think of this relationship the same way instead it’s with a whole community of people. It takes work and time every day to remind them that you’re still around and have more to add to the conversation.
3) Share your work.
This is where the career part comes in. If you’re trying to get into a community to influence your side project or maybe to get inspiration at your full time job, ask for feedback and share what you’re working on. It could be as simple as sharing your idea: “Hey, I’m thinking of starting a blog for geeky and girly girls. What do you think?” Hearing feedback, both negative and positive, will give you a burst of energy and will improve your idea all the more.
And what do you have to lose? Who knows, you might end up writing an article for a geeky/girly blog.