Ever sign up for a gym membership and not really use it that much? I know…I know this probably hasn’t happened to you. But, just pretend for a moment that you did. How did this help your physical condition?
Signing up Isn’t Joining
Having a social media account (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin) doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve joined. It means you’ve signed up. It’s like signing up for the gym. You can say that you belong to the gym but if you don’t get on the equipment and exercise, what benefit is there to your body?
Joining is Becoming More Important to Learning
I was thinking of John Seely Brown’s talk about the importance of learning to join. With all of the social media tools available to us, it’s more important than ever to be able to join. Being able to join (community, group, conversation) is key to learning.
You can learn by watching others but the real learning happens when you try and participate. Signing up gets you in the door but joining and participating brings you and others the real benefits.
Having Trouble Joining?
You need to join in order to participate but what if you’re having trouble joining? How do you learn more about joining without already being part of the group? You can’t, but there is a solution: Joining is part of the learning. Join and start participating.
There are many reasons why people struggle with joining:
- Fear of acceptance – not sure you have anything worth sharing? I have found that people are very accepting and want to connect with others (just like you). Try using small steps
- Risk adverse – don’t want to be quoted “on the record”. There is valid concern here but you have control on what you say. If you think it’s inappropriate, don’t send it. Don’t want to say anything? There is risk in this approach too.
- Not fitting in – if you’re trying but not getting the results you want, try a different approach. Are you too harsh or negative? Are you talking too much or trying too hard. Look back and try other approaches.
- Lack of motivation – there is no short cut to joining. You have to want it. If you have enough motivation to join, your network can help during the times when you’re not as motivated.
Helping Others Join
Isn’t this what “social” is all about – connecting, sharing, helping? Sometimes people just need a little bit to grab onto so that they join and participate. Be open and inviting to others who are not part of the group. Help them make the transition from observer to participator. Here’s a good example of how a teacher is helping shy students have a voice. In the end, it’s each person responsibility to join but those that have joined can help.
Joining is Just the Beginning
Once you’ve joined, you need to keep sharing and participating. Like a gym membership, networks take effort in order to reap the benefits.
So, Ask Yourself
- Have I joined or am I just signed up?
- If I’m signed up, what steps am I going to take to join?
- If I’m already joined, how can I help other who have signed up and are trying to join?