When I quit my job last year I had business ideas, but no firm plans (like I should have), of what I would do professionally to help contribute to the household and no entrepreneurial experience.
Five months later, with little more than a willingness to interact and get involved, I was being introduced to you as the Leaving Work Behind Community Manager. The benefits associated with this position are numerous, but some of the prominent ones are: the opportunity to work with and learn from a top influencer, increased exposure to other top influencers, more subscribers/followers/clients and a larger network of friends and contacts to connect with, learn from, and collaborate with (talk about extreme value!).
The benefits I have seen so far only excite me more for the future. Starting with some exciting improvements to the community forum, new features in discussion for Tom’s Paid To Blog course, and venturing into social media and blog management & strategy reports, I am presented with higher profile opportunities much sooner than I could have ever dreamed.
I feel like the possibilities for my business growth are endless, and I am definitely reaching for the stars to provide as much value as possible. Completing some products, higher profile collaborations, and larger, more intense research & analysis projects — which I love by the way — are things I especially see happening in the future.
In this post, I want to share with you the steps that took me to this opportunity so that you can accelerate your own success, all from actively interacting and connecting in communities.
At the beginning of September 2013 I quit my job as a Fraud Investigator.
For many different reasons, as I’m sure many of you can relate, this was a hard and an easy decision. My one year parental leave after the birth of my third son was coming to an end, and rather than miss out on my boys’ lives at this stage (or pay horrendous child care costs), I quit my job instead.
My first inkling of an entrepreneurial endeavor was to finish some books I had been attempting to write, and this led me to consider freelance writing as a possible income source. Knowing absolutely nothing about how to go about this, I dove into research on the subject — research being my specialty after-all — hunting down people and resources to learn from.
To this day I am honestly not certain exactly what I searched but it led me to Leaving Work Behind and Tom’s ten minute video on how to set-up a blog on WordPress (because apparently, to be a freelance writer I needed one). His resources also led me to Carol Tice’s Freelance Writer’s Den (incidentally, both testimonials you see on its homepage are from members of the LWB community!) and Corbett Barr’s Start a Blog That Matters course (now part of Fizzle).
The more I dug and the more involved I got in each of these communities, the more I realized that although there is tremendous value in the resources and products sold by the aforementioned bloggers, the real gold mine is in the people you meet and interact with. (Plus it’s also the most fun part!)
I joined Fizzle in October 2013 and it did not take long for me to become addicted (in a productive way, I should add) to connecting with and learning from the people there. I became a part of my first mastermind group through Fizzle, which has been absolutely instrumental in my success so far.
My group is directly responsible for encouraging me and identifying potential business opportunities from my past experiences. Through them my new research wizard identity and direction was born, thereby playing to my strengths, and continues to be nurtured on a weekly basis through our meetings. I am happy to call them good friends.
Connecting in Communities
Because of my involvement with Fizzle, I was excited to explore other communities, so when Tom unveiled the free LWB Community Forums I joined immediately and jumped straight into the conversations (and started some of my own!). Communities are about so much more than just joining, and my results speak for themselves in terms of defining the level of participation you should be aiming for.
My experience with forums is not a passive one. From the first day I joined the LWB Community Forums I made the choice to be an active member, stepping up to the plate and offering advice or value whenever I could. If there is a topic I don’t understand, I will still make an effort to find a resource or person to help. I don’t do this because I feel that it will benefit me (although it does); I do it because I don’t know any other way to be a member of a community.
I am not suggesting that you spend all your time in online communities to the neglect of everything else, but I am suggesting that you should spend more time in them than you probably think. The trick is to spend your time in a valuable and productive manner. Whether you are an expert on the subject being discussed or learning something new, the value comes from the conversations.
Adopt the mindset that each person you are attempting to help is paying for your services and that you want to keep their business. Think ‘ridiculously helpful’ and then aim higher. It’s extremely important to still be transparent and genuine, so if you don’t understand something or know an immediate answer, take the time to figure it out and then get back to them. The appreciation from a considered and thoughtful response is more meaningful and beneficial in the long run than knowing all the answers.
Why join something if you are not going to get involved? You will undoubtedly get out what you put in, so make the choice to be active and not passive in participation, and the opportunities will present themselves.
Tom describes the evolution of our working relationship as him having no idea who I was, to knowing me, to realizing my contributions and value, to wanting to work with me. All of this happened in the space of a few weeks without me ever making a pitch or proposal to him. Put simply, I created a huge opportunity based on my eagerness to provide value to others.
I have since adopted Tom as my mentor, and my enthusiasm for getting involved in his community has resulted in a glowing testimonial for my website, having him as a paying client and guest post opportunities (this officially being my first guest post). Not to mention the increased page views, followers and subscribers for my site based off of his support.
Getting appreciated and ‘singled out’ by an online influencer is an extremely exciting and validating experience, but experiences with Tom aside, I have connected with so many other talented people and benefitted on so many levels. Everything from service swaps, testimonials, exclusive deals, client referrals, guest post requests, increased authority and reach, free services, collaboration requests, appreciation, approaches and introductions by or to top influencers, and who knows what else I am forgetting to mention!
Some notable examples of awesome people I have connected with are Omar Zenhom & Nicole Baldinu of Business Republic, Tom Morkes of Insurgent Publishing, John Corcoran of Smart Business Revolution, and Darlene Hildebrandt of DPS and HerView Photgraphy.
There is a practically unlimited pool of people out there to connect with and you never know how you can help each other out.
You know the saying, “everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten?” Well everything I have learned about succeeding online I learned in online communities. I’m still new and I’m still learning, but by joining and actively participating in online communities, I have reduced my learning curve and created opportunities that have accelerated my progress dramatically.
If you go above and beyond in showing yourself how much of an asset you can be, you can get your foot in the door and be exposed to the kind of opportunities that you wouldn’t find on your own. After all, bloggers, influencers and entrepreneurs are almost always looking for good people to work with (ask Tom -– they’re rare!).
So not only will you make friends and connections to carry and support you through your own leaving work behind journey (because let’s face it, it can get lonely!), you probably won’t even be able to anticipate some of the doors that will open up to you. Make the choice to be active (and beyond ridiculously helpful) and you will be on the path to emulating my success.
So what are you waiting for? Come join the conversations in the community forum and let’s see what we can learn from one another!
Image Credit: Alberta Culture