Why You Should Join Online Communities

Akiff Premjee
July 21, 2020

2020 has been an interesting year to say the least. The global pandemic has changed the way we operate on a day to day basis, making us more reliant on the internet and connecting virtually in the process. Though I’m over all the Zoom calls and miss seeing friends IRL, something that I have gained because of the pandemic is a place in multiple online communities. And guess what? They are awesome.

In this week's newsletter I want to walk through my experience joining online communities and why I think you should join one too.

No thanks, that's weird.

I get it.

Joining an online community doesn't feel like the most comfortable thing to do in the world. Time and time again, we've heard of strange and weird stories about online interactions that didn't go so well. We've seen how Twitter can bring out the worst in people. Most importantly, we are afraid of what we can't see face to face and don't know how much trust we should put behind a random username that we come across online. I get it.

Though this might be what we hear about the internet from the grapevine, it's important to understand that it isn't the full story. Depending on where you look and how much you effort you put in, there are also people out there who genuinely want to connect. People who have similar interests to you that you may not otherwise have the chance to meet because geography isn't in your favor. The internet has made the world a smaller place and though that can be scary sometimes, it's also remarkable to know that you can find a friend across the globe who likes learning about note-taking and productivity systems just like you (or is that just like me?).

So if you haven't tried it, what's there to lose. If you don't like it, you can just stop. That's also the beauty of the internet. But I think that if you really look for a community, you'll find something great and gain a lot of value from it.

The #roamcult

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I'm deep into Roam Research right now. So deep that I joined the #roamcult on Twitter and also have been part of the Roam Slack group since the beginning of this year. Through it I've learned so much not only about the app and how different people use it but also about different resources, tools, articles, books, and systems that I have been able to integrate into my own life. What started out as me just wanting to check out a new beta product, ended up providing me with insights on how to build a personal management system and what the Zettelkasten method of learning is.

A view inside the Roam Slack group

The best example I have of this is when I received a message on the Roam Slack by an old coworker who also had found Roam online and joined the Slack group. It was a pleasant surprise and we started exchanging workflows and what we were using Roam for. He then messaged me and asked if I'd be open to doing a Zoom call with some other friends of his who were also using Roam. I literally ended up spending a Wednesday night on a Zoom call with 5 random people and my old coworker talking about Roam workflows, how we used the app, how we ingest content, knowledge management, and many other topics. It was amazing. I didn't know how to find people who were passionate and interested in the same things as me and was always nervous to ask because I felt that talking about productivity systems was something that only I cared about and others found weird. But I was wrong. All I had to do was find the right community.

Sometimes we forget that the world is a really big place and that it is definitely likely that there are other people out there who are interested in the same things we are. Joining online communities is a great way to find and build these connections that we seek.

Writer's Bloc

Now that I've decided to write a newsletter each week, something else that I've been focusing on is how to build a habit of writing and find a community of people that will push me to stay consistent and improve my skills.

Finding Writer's Bloc was pure luck for me. It came (as many things have this year) via Twitter. I was originally thinking of starting my own Slack group of 4-8 people based on an article shared from Brandon Zhang on building a small group that had a similar mindset to keep each other accountable. I did some digging and found Twitter accounts who were also on the smaller side like me and working to build newsletters from scratch and reached out to see if they would be open to creating a Slack group together.

The few people I reached out to were actually down and one of them (Alexander Hugh Sam) ended up telling me about Writer's Bloc. I looked into it and found that it was exactly what I was looking for - a community of writer's looking to build a writing habit and get better at their craft. I messaged one of the founders and thanks to a referral by Alex was granted access to the group.

I haven't been in it for long but the community is amazing and so supportive. People share their writing and are open to review your work and provide feedback. There are challenges you can participate it and conversations about building habits like Morning Pages and links to helpful tools to use like Hemingway.

Again, the lesson was the same. I wanted to find a community that would propel me forward in my writing and hold me accountable. It's much easier to go to the gym with a friend and get stronger together and writing is no different. I've been fortunate to find my virtual gym as I work to strengthen my writing.

How to Join a Community

If you've gotten this far and are interested in joining a community here are my tips for you:

  1. Identify your interests: You know what you like and what you want to get involved in. Go with something you've always wanted to explore but haven't really done so because you didn't know others who were into it.
  2. Find a community: Reddit and Twitter are truly the best places to find communities. Follow likeminded people who are talking about topics you're into or find a subreddit dedicated to your interest. If all else fails, you can make your own community too. You'll be surprised how many people are looking for the same thing you are.
  3. Engage and give back: Once you've joined a community it's important to engage and give back. A community is only as good as the people in it. Don't use it for self-promotion and getting your content out there. Be a team player and make an effort to get to know the people in the community and their stories. You'll only get out of it what you put in. The best communities in my opinion are those where people operate from a perspective of wanting to improve outcomes for everyone rather than just for themselves.

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