Community Involvement is Hindered if You’re a Wallflower

Step away from the wall and dive in

Everyone says community involvement is the key to your success. This is two-fold. First, you need to join communities that support you along your journey. You glean ideas, friends, connections and networking potential. Second, as your platform grows you’ll need to create one for others. Joining a community has a cost, if not monetary, then with time. Look at any community that publishes its membership numbers and you’ll see a difference between the number of members and the number of people active in the community. So, why don’t people get involved?

Do I really want to be involved?

This is a big one. You’re not sure about what community involvement looks like. What does it entail? How much time will it take? Will it truly be beneficial? If you are not clear about what the community is about then asking questions of group leaders or other people within the group will help. It’s not too difficult to learn who is a member and make contact. A member probably told you about the group in the first place. You don’t want to feel trapped or get resentful doing things you don’t really want to do. Leave if you find you are in a community you don’t want to be in. Really. If you haven’t been active it’s likely no one will notice. Do communities want numbers? Yes, there’s no denying that. Better yet, people want engaged followers. If you don’t enjoy being there … leave. If the community is one you want to be a part of keep reading and you’ll stop being a wallflower and get involved.

I’m not good enough

Think you’re not good enough? That’s negative self-talk. If you are enticed to the community for the right reasons than you are good enough. Newcomers hold back on community involvement because they assume everyone else who has been there longer knows better. If your skills don’t match what you perceive in others you still have something to offer. Even if you are hanging around without really interacting you are beefing up the community numbers, making it look more impressive to others.

Community Involvement is too much work

It’s too much work and it will take too much time. This may or may not be true. Connecting and networking with others takes time and is necessary for your success. The truth is that you give as much as you get. Since you are helping others they are also helping you. It’s a win-win. And, you have to have some skin in the game. Popping in and expecting others to help in the same way they do the most active members is simply not fair. Nobody likes a taker. Be a giver and receive mutual benefit. It’s based on trust. When members trust you they will go out of their way to help you.

“You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough people get what they want,” Zig Ziglar.

I don’t know anybody/don’t like someone

It’s hard to believe you don’t know anyone. Your friend, who is already in the group, likely told you about it. Use the newbie approach to introduce yourself. My friend so-and-so told me about this community and I had to join. People will welcome you and connect, share like interests etc. If that doesn’t work mirror what your friend does while you learn the ropes.

What if it’s I don’t like so-and-so? So-and-so is already in the group and you don’t have to interact with everyone. Benefits and drawbacks. Every group has some of each.  

I’m not like other people

Maybe you, or what you do, is different. Likely someone else has a common interest even if they don’t focus on it. Your difference is what makes you special. Established leaders may appear to have a similar worldview, and that’s unlikely. People are people and each one is different. Your difference is probably your best gift to others. Enhance it.

You can’t get to know people if you can’t connect with them. And, you can’t offer your gift to help if you can’t connect. And, you can’t connect until you step off the sidelines and get involved with the communities to which you belong.

I struggle to be heard

Someone probably has the gift to gab. Maybe it’s their “gift” and the community will get noisy as it grows. If someone talks too much let group leaders know that certain voices are shutting others’ down. If it’s their group it’s their problem-after you bring it to them. Until then use your voice wisely. Use it with a golden nugget of wisdom or a connection. President Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick”. Those are wise words to live by. If it’s noisy speak less, with undeniable wisdom.

It’s Action Time for Community Involvement

You belong. You have something to offer. Your voice is necessary. It’s time to stop being a wallflower. How will you step into community involvement? Comment with your decision.  

Learn more about communities here and here.

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