Thursday, June 26, 2008

Volunteer to be Successful

The openness of your own future, depends on YOU. Your ability to VOLUNTEER to do new things and to take on new ideas is the key to your future. So have you volunteered to be part of an online social network? Having done so, what did you do then?

Sadly, 90% of those who join a social network, are unsure why they did so, and are reluctant to participate. The opportunity to connect to other people is there, but the connections are not made. For instance, of the 20 million members of LinkedIn about 10 million have fewer than FIVE connections and most have not completed their profiles.

Be a Taker from the Useful Common:
You come to online social networks, with a real world network already in place. The online world, list serv's, web sites, search engines, groups and social networks enlarge and extend the "useful common". There is far more content and value in the useful common than you can possibly absorb. So, drink all you choose, but drink with discipline; you can drown in content. Try to find what you need "just in time" a little bit every day. Take the opportunity to build the strength and value of the useful common you have access to. At first you will be a taker. Later when your confidence grows you'll become a giver.

Join a Social Network – Write About Yourself:
In the beginning, writing an interesting page about yourself is a difficult but necessary task. It's impossible to write a perfect page about “yourself” because you can never capture the fullness of your life. Be content with what you can write today. (I actually recommend joining TWO networks, LinkedIn, and one other of your choice, any place where they have interesting forums. You need to read and eventually to write, to get the best our of this process.)

Build the Number of Contacts you have:
I'm one of those who was online early, and I've built a large network, but along the way I've also met and been influenced by some amazing people. You need to grow you own network. Begin by reading the discussion forums. Find out who's here. Visit the profile pages of the people who have useful things to say, find out more about them. Tell them by dropping a note, or filling in a guest book, that you liked what they wrote. Quietly, build the list of people you know. Once you have 30 or 40 connections, your network will begin to grow with less effort. Thus far, building your network is bringing together people of like mind, who didn't previously know each other.

I've built a large network, on several different platforms, but I don't recommend that to everyone. You'll know, if for some reason you need a large network, for the rest of you, somewhere between 100 and 500 connections should be very useful. More important than building more connections is to engage a small number of your online contacts in regular discussions. I've been experimenting with that. It's not easy. The conversation keeps running dry, and you have to re-boot it again. It takes two people to keep a conversation going. You know the sound of one hand clapping. If it's too hard to sustain, that relationship dies. If you can find in 100 connections four new people that you enjoy talking to across the world, if you can talk to people who don't exist in the same cultural bubble as yourself, you will discover value.

You need to be proactive to succeed online. That means you need to volunteer, to put yourself forward. If today you don't have the courage to do that, join a group, and spend time in the forums. Drink deep on what other people are saying. Learn. One day you'll feel the courage to participate yourself. Step by step, that's how we get there.

John Stephen Veitch
Open Future Limited - You may comment privately to John S Veitch using this form.


Sukkim Lama said...

Oh John, Very Interesting blog site.I hope I will see with you more possibilities that helps too me.

Mitchell Allen said...

Hi John,

Volunteerism is indeed a great way to grow your network. Moderating forums and community blog sites is one of the ways I contribute.

One of the best ways to volunteer is to answer questions (That's part of the courage I think you refer to). If you're in a forum to learn, you WILL learn from those who already know. Then, it will be YOUR turn to help the newbies that come after you.

Just as you have much respect for your forum teachers, those eager new people will come to respect your helpful knowledge. You become one of their main contacts for brain-storming and problem-solving.