Community engagement is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Prove to others that you are not a one-off show by becoming and remaining a consistent contributor. Continue to tweet, viz, blog, and speak. Nurture your network and focus longterm.
A friend once said:
Be brave and push yourself. There is so much more inside you than you know. Become the person you want to be by stopping to tell yourself what you cannot do.
Find your passion
It is natural to try things out. But once you’ve found what you love, you should concentrate on doing just that, to the best of your abilities. For me, that’s writing and public speaking, so I continue to blog, lead Data+Women Germany, speak at TUGs and TFF (as long as they will have me).
All the things mentioned above take effort, so you should choose something that energizes you in turn. Personally, I love inspiring people and making them laugh, so even though preparing a presentation takes time and energy, it’s always worth it, and all the effort will be forgotten after my talk.
If you can, get your company to be passionate about your passions, as well. Find something that benefits them and use company resources (time, space, money, contacts, marketing channels, good name) to get yourself there. If that’s not possible, it’s even more important for you to have that passion yourself.
Get a cheerleader
Find somebody to hold you accountable without exerting pressure on you to perform. Tell them your goals, so that you have somebody to check in on you from time to time. They might say things like the following:
- “I love your blog so much, I’ve already read through all of your posts – any chance there will be a new post soon?”
- “I like to watch Tableau videos over breakfast, and I’ve finished with your TFF talks – are there any new presentations in the pipeline?”
- “I really enjoyed the last event you hosted – do you need any help in organizing the next one?”
My personal cheerleader, Helmut Dahl, pushed me to apply for my first TFF. The following photo was taken a few minutes after I had hit “Send” on my application. You can see all the thoughts running through my head that I had fired at my cheerleader in quick succession:
- “Oh God, why did you push me to apply?”
- “Thank you, thank you, thank you for pushing me to apply!”
- “Oh no, what if they don’t take me?”
- “Oh no, what if they DO take me?”
Just recently, I told Helmut: “Thank you for continuously pushing me over the cliff, so that I may realize that I can actually fly.”
Help others and others will help you in return. All this will get you only half as far if you do it merely for your own personal gain. People say that karma is a bitch, but personally I have found karma to be my best friend. If you dedicate your time and expertise to helping the community move forward, the community will have your back when you need help. If you’re only out to help yourself, you don’t really build a community, you just end up with a whole bunch of self-important show people. So support and be supported, and the community will come alive.
There’s nothing holding you back except for your own fears. Life starts on the other side of fear, and the community is there for you to dive right in.