❤️Community Building ❤️

When I was starting out in my career I remember how scared I was to ask questions.


The last thing I wanted was them knowing that I didn't know something!  People would often talk and assume that I knew what they were talking about. How could I let them know the truth? The self doubt would just send me down into a further spiral of darkness.

Part of me thinks that was silly old Rosie for thinking like that, but I've also heard so many people over the years say the same thing. When you are new to something, it's overwhelming. This tweet reminds me of that.

Communities as industry guiding lights

Now I look back and can see a strong connection at how communities can be so powerful in supporting career and professional development.

The discussions that are had in communities can help guide an industry. The conversations and relationships that are created as a result of a community can lead on to many things, for example:

  • an idea for a blog post
  • a talk idea
  • a way to make an improvement
  • a new way of looking at something
  • seeds of new ideas, products and businesses can often be traced back to community actions

If you are not paying attention to what professional communities are talking about you may wonder why you feel like you are being left behind. The world changes so fast these days.  The people who stay ahead stay connected in some way to what their industry communities are talking about.

Communities are core to modern day career development

Everyday people show up to communities asking questions, looking for support and (hopefully) answering questions too.  This, to me, is primarily what can make professional communities so special and important.  They are there to help. People can literally become a part of something, get support, support others, grow and become leaders within their career paths within relatively short spaces of time.

It's really unfortunate how often companies dismiss community as a core part of their career development. It may not lead to a certification or specific outcomes, but the learning and relationships are real.

Questions are essential for communities to thrive

Hopefully if communities are designed thoughtfully people will see the questions and cries for help everywhere.  The simple act of arriving and seeing other people's questions can ease people's fear of asking their own questions.

The great thing is everyone can learn from questions people ask, for example:

  • already answered questions: who doesn't love searching for something to find the question has already been asked and answered as well.
  • unanswered questions: even if no one responds, the fact that someone is asking something is a useful source of information.  For example, it can help others see that they are not the only one struggling to understand something.
  • a point of comparison: if people new to their field see other people asking a similar question it will help validate how far along in their career knowledge they are
  • questions from newbies: just because someone is new to a field doesn't mean we can't learn from them.  Everyone should pay attention to questions from newbies, people should seek to understand why they are being asked and how they can be helped.  It could be important for helping advance and industry.
  • new trends: the world does not stand still.  It is important to discuss new trends and communities are often the best place for this to happen.

Every industry needs a community behind it

The power of professional communities is creating a place where useful, supportive and relevant questions can be asked.  Every industry that wants to survive needs a place for this to be happening.

Often there will be several online places that these things actually end up happening.  If you can't find anything then perhaps it's a sign of a dying industry or one that needs someone to step up and create something.