Stepping out of our comfort zones is scary. It is never going to feel right but it isn’t meant to be easy. Sometimes though, stepping over that line we’ve drawn into the sand ourselves can bring the biggest opportunities. That line we have drawn for ourselves is full of all the things that make us feel comfortable and familiar with but that’s the point, it’s drawn by ourselves and familiarity.
I recently had a chat with a second-year student who was looking for advice and information on the internship I’ve just completed. It’s almost the reason behind this post (she got the job too, bonus). Without social media, she might not have found me or this blog. She wouldn’t have found my posts talking about my placement journey or me full stop. Social media has opened up so many doors. We can literally connect with anyone and everyone across the world (if we wanted to, of course!).
I can’t talk for her, I don’t know how she felt contacting me but even now when I email industry professionals to feature on this site, I feel nervous. Sometimes I will chicken out and decide I’ll send the message the next day. I don’t even know why but I think it can be nerve-wracking. But in the journey of this blog (which is now 2 and a half years old which is pretty crazy) and the people I’ve spoken to during the way I’ve created my own little community. A community that wouldn’t grow if I didn’t take steps outside of my comfort zone.
In some ways, blogging, in general, is still a real leap out of my comfort zone. I used to hate people reading my writing and will happily admit I can’t help but compare myself to others ALL the time. I loved writing and that is what this blog was really created to do. Sharing industry related posts with professionals who have more experience than I’ve been in education for is scary. But it’s bought a benefit that I had never really considered before.
An online community is a weird concept. Because in fact, it is just people on a site. But the benefits it can bring is huge.
You could say the Best PR blogs / #PRstudent hashtag on Twitter was my first experience of the benefits of online communities. I remember Richard picking up my blog for the first time and I found Marcel. I followed him closely throughout the year and was fascinated with how well he created his own PR community on Twitter. I wanted to do that for myself. I’ve not done it half as well as he has as my Twitter love was completely replaced with my love for Instagram during placement and I kind of forgot about blogging over placement, I was just enjoying myself too much! But the concept is there. Without social media, I would not be able to connect with industry professionals and other students in similar stages of education to me (hey, Orlagh). I wouldn’t have met the people I’ve met and learnt what I have learnt.
Richard himself has created a community within the #BestPRblogs hashtag which is joined by some of the industry’s biggest names and inquisitive students. Being a part of this community means I can interact with these people and learn so much.
My blog has taught me a number of lessons over the year but the importance of a community and your networks is a big one. It’s a proven fact it works. I’ve seen the benefits of my own community from job and internship offers to just learning and keeping my mind open. These people talk about topics I might not have thought of before or angles I might not have considered before. Without this blog, I would not be thinking in new ways or coming into contact with such insightful industry professionals. It’s possible that my confidence in my own writing would still be pretty low. I wouldn’t have spent one week at Weber Shandwick and my blog wouldn’t have been ‘Britain’s Best PR Student Blog’ in 2017.
I wouldn’t have the community I do and it’s a powerful thing if used right.
So how do you create your own community?
Yes, its scary at first but it is the best way to create a community of your own. A place where people come to read your thoughts on the world. As I’ve found, just having one connects you with others and eventually you’ll find yourself in your own community.
2. Interact with Twitter chats or industry professionals on Twitter
You don’t need to be weird and stalk people here but there are always Twitter chats such as Ella Minty’s #Powerandinfluence chat and industry professionals often create conversations. Join in. Be a part of it. Be heard. It takes time, it won’t come naturally or quickly but work at it, it will come.
3. Be you.
Everything I’ve said rests upon this point. Find a community that suits you and is interested in similar things to you. You probably are already in one and don’t even realise it.
4. Try it!
You’ll see the benefits for yourself before long.