You’re in at least one writer’s group, aren’t you? Industry groups are fantastic for making connections, getting information, and learning from other people in the same place as you, so why wouldn’t you be in one…or a dozen?
Let’s face it, these resources can be invaluable to us, and if you do it right, it can change the face of your brand.
Today we’re discussing 8 Ways To Get the Most Out of Being in an Online Group. Check out the full episode here:
Or check out the highlights reel here:
8 Ways To Get the Most Out of Being in an Online Group
1.) Follow the rules
If there are rules to the group, take note of them and follow them. Don’t upset people or miss out on opportunities because you didn’t take the time to read the rules.
If the group rules as you to fill out a Document, do it. Usually it is a way to make sure everyone can easily reach you if they need to get in contact.
2.) Don’t lurk
It can be scary to get involved in a group, especially if you don’t know anyone, but don’t let that stop you. If you just hang back you’ll never make friends, never share your knowledge, and never get yourself out there.
If you don’t take the time to be involved you won’t get the most out of your experience. You’ll never be able to ask questions, nor will you be able to use your knowledge to help out others.
Lurking is also going to leave you feeling lonely. You’ll feel like you’re friends with the super active people in the group because you’ll be reading all of their posts, but if you ever chose to reach out to them, you’ll be the “new person” because while you’ve hung out with them for a year, they didn’t know you existed because you hid yourself away.
3.) Create Community and Make Friends
Making friends makes it feel like a community. When you have an active and engaged community it brings trust to the group. When people are talking and working with each other in the group it turns it into a safe place where members feel like they can speak and not be judged, ask questions and not feel stupid, and bring their worries, cares, and celebrations forward and have a group of people to surround them and support them through the good an band times.
4.) Do Not Cause Drama or be Negative
That being said, do not cause drama. Online groups are safe places for member to go to vent frustrations, share celebrations, ask questions without being judged, and feel at home.
When people start drama it is one of the fastest ways to get kicked out of a group. No one want negativity for the sake of negativity. There are proper ways of expressing an opposite view without starting drama.
Within my two main communities (photography and book world) we all have very different opinions, and when we see things in different ways, we kindly talk about it. We don’t have to agree, but we do have to be respectful and because of that, we are free to express ourselves without fearing backlash.
If someone causes drama within the group, the group is going to pull back. This might mean the entire group gets quiet for a long time, or it might mean the dramatic person isn’t addressed often, but either way the group is trying to avoid conflict.
If you find you’re in constant conflict with a group, maybe it’s not the best fit for you.
5.) Communicate Clearly
It’s hard to understand the tone someone is taking in the written word. It’s also hard to understand the point if there’s a lot of fluff in a post. Clear communication helps to keep the conversation running smoothly and reduces the risk of miscommunication.
Identify what you mean, strip away the excessive flowery words, and then post. If you have a question ask it, but only give the background information that gives context to the question.
Make sure your posts make sense before you hit enter. Check for autocorrections making your life miserable and your post unreadable. Before you hit send, double check to make sure your post couldn’t be read more than one way because you don’t want confused readers replying in a way you didn’t mean for them to reply in.
6.) Do Not Give Advice if Not Asked for Advice
If someone posts something and does not ask for specific feedback, chances are that they don’t want feedback in any other form but “Oh that’s cool.” Do not give your opinion on something unless you’re asked for it.
For example, if someone posts their book cover to show it off, but doesn’t ask “what needs to be changed,” then they simply want you to tell them it’s a good cover. They don’t want you to critique it.
If someone tells you about their bad day, they don’t want you to tell them how to fix it, they just want a sympathetic ear. When are feeling down about their publisher ignoring them, they don’t you to one up them with your own publishing woes.
If, however, they ask for specific feedback, by all means, give them a helpful answer. The key here is that it is constructive criticism. Don’t be mean or vicious. Enter into the conversation with a helpful attitude and say things nicely. If the posts sounds critical just to be critical, take an hour and rethink how to phrase it to be beneficial to everyone involved.
7.) Be Helpful
Jump on different posts and be helpful. It never feels good to post something and then have no on respond, or even worse, post something that asks a question and then only have people like the post.
If you see a post struggling, help bump it to the top or tag someone who might have the answer. When people see a lot of posts going unanswered, they assume the group is no longer active and everyone will drift away. That’s not what you want for your group.
The more people you know within the group, the easier it will be for you to be involved and be helpful. You may not run the group, but it is your job as a member to help the other members. Make the effort to get into the group and be a helpful, active member.
8.) Give More Than You Take
No one likes those needy people who show up in a group only when they want something.
When people show up only long enough to post “promote my book for me” or “help me run my event” or “do work for me for free” but are never there to support others, those people aren’t going to be helped and they aren’t going to be liked.
But those people who show up frequently, regularly, and actually put some effort into being a friend, authority, and voice of knowledge and experience…those are the people who are raised up and lifted up to a level of authority. Those are the people who are respected. Those are the people that the rest of the group turns to.
Be someone who is involved and gives more than they take from the group. When you’re one of those people and you then ask for something, the group is happy to help you and never sees you as someone who only makes an appearance to ask for something.
When you are an active, engaged member of an online group, you not only get the benefits of being in the group, but you also give that to your fellow community members. When you create a safe, welcoming place for people and invest time into a community, you get back so much more than you give.
Communicating within a group not only establishes friendships that you can depend on for support, but it also establishes you as a leader within the group that people will turn to. This can lead to some amazing opportunities down the road.
Missing out on being an active member of a community is one of the worst things you can do to yourself as an author because it deprives you of community, friends, sound advice from other people in the same place you are in, industry leaders and their knowledge and connections, and prevents you from having a number of amazing opportunities. Don’t miss out on everything you could get out of being engaged in your group just because you’re shy. Make the effort and it’s going to go a long way, both in your professional life and your personal life.
Now you know I never leave you high and dry, and I know it can be hard to remember to do these things every week. It’s so important to remember to be involved in the right ways that I don’t want you to forget an miss out on an incredible opportunity. So I’ve got you covered!
You can download your FREEBIE bonus, How to be a Good Online Community Member Weekly Checklist, by grabbing our weekly show notes, and because I think you’re awesome, I also have an extra special gift for you while you’re there!
Just down to the comments and let me know who many groups you are in and what they are like! Bonus points for recommending some good groups for me to hang out in!