Hello Friends 👋,
Have you ever had an experience of joining a community and not knowing what to do or where to start? Well, you're not alone! I had lots of these experiences myself. Being an introverted and shy person makes it even harder for me.
But after joining (a bunch of) communities, being active, and volunteering in some of them, I started to get the grip. And I will share what I usually do when I join a community until I engage and get involved, which hopefully can help you as well.
Code of Conduct and rules
First, I will read the community's Code of Conduct or its rules before anything else. This is essential. Why?
Have you ever received a notification, and when you checked, someone used the tag
@channel, which wasn't an announcement or something important? It's annoying, right? Or when someone sends you a DM, and you feel bothered, to whom should you talk or report it? These things are usually regulated and written in the community's Code of Conduct or the rules.
Like when we enter someone's house, they most likely have different rules than ours that we need to respect. It works the same with communities. Every community has its own rules that we must follow.
We can often find the community's Code of Conduct or rules on its website or a channel on its text chat app. If the community uses Discord, new members will usually get prompted to the regulations they must read and confirm before posting anything.
For some people, this might be challenging (I'm talking about myself, this introverted and shy person 😁).
However, I will introduce myself by heading to the channel that they suggest. If there's no direction, I'll try to find the channel
#introduction, or something similar. I then look at people's introductions to formulate how I will introduce myself.
Introducing ourselves allows people in the community to recognize us. It often makes me more comfortable when I receive a warm welcome in a community. And when I see someone else join and introduce themselves, I engage with them and say, "Hey, I'm new too. Welcome!" It's always lovely to see and know fellow newcomers.
Next is to observe. I will check what channels are in Slack or Discord and what they're for.
Most of the time, the conversations are too long to follow, and I get overwhelmed. So I usually look at today's or yesterday's discussions. I observe what is happening in the channel and how the members interact. I will stay on the channels that interest me and often mute the rest.
From observing, I sometimes have questions for clarification, for example, where can I post to ask for particular help, etc. Once I take the leap to ask a question, I feel more at ease when I need clarification about anything in the community. And most of the time, I can get the sense if I would engage further, be a forever lurker, or leave after some observation.
When I feel more comfortable, I feel more ready to interact. Welcoming new members usually help me to start engaging. Because I was once new too, and welcoming new people always gives me a nice feeling. Besides, who doesn't like a warm welcome? 😀
Then, I will pay attention to the channels I'm in and see if I can engage in some way. For example, I will say good morning when other people do that or answer questions I can answer. Or if the community holds Twitter space or any other events, I will attend or participate in them whenever possible.
I will do small things that can nudge me to be more active and get involved. Because I know if I don't make those tiny steps, I will always stay quiet and miss the opportunity to get the best out of the community.
Bonus part: Volunteering
After being in the community for a while, actively engaging, and getting involved, I often start to see things that I can offer my help. Or when the community asks me if I could volunteer or contribute to certain things, I will do that if I have the capacity. I learned through time that volunteering allows me to grow and learn about many things.
Currently, I'm volunteering as a Documentation Lead and an Advisor at Virtual Coffee, a Code of Conduct responder and part of the social media committee at The Collab Lab, and a moderator at DEV and CodeNewbie. I once volunteered as one of the Call For Proposal (CFP) program committee members and moderators for the CodeLand 2021 conference.
And from these experiences, I learned about open source, documentation, community, reviewing talk proposals, and many more. On top of that, I made friends with many great developers and technical writers! Pushing myself out of my comfort zone by being more active and getting involved in communities is what allows me to experience these things.
For an introverted person, being active in a community requires hard work and often drains energy. But it's fruitful once we conquer the challenge to get out of our comfort zone, even just a bit!
You don't have to get involved or be active in many communities. Find that one community that makes you feel safe and comfortable, and take a tiny step one at a time to be more active in that community. Because being in a community, especially when you're involved, can take you further in your journey.
Do you have any other suggestions? Feel free to drop them in the comment below! 😀