07 July 2010 ~ 0 Comments

How to develop passion for your community topic

climb knowledge ladder to develop passionAs a Community Manager, it helps if you have a genuine passion for the topic of the community you are building. However, sometimes you may be asked to work on one in a field you are less knowledgeable about, if at all.

With a well-cultured passion, you will find it easier to work the hours necessary to maintain your community and support the people within it. Even if the topic is not one you know much about, you can train yourself to develop passion, at least enough to enjoy managing the community and have enough understanding to help others.

Here is a template to follow to help you build up knowledge and eventually passion.

Do the prep work

First off, you need to define for yourself what it feels like to be passionate. Pick something you are already really into, and think about how it makes you feel, and how you come across when you talk to others about it. This might be a hunger for knowledge and opportunities to discuss and practise your passion, a deep sense of fun doing it, or an energising feeling.

Hold on to that feeling, and use it as a benchmark; this is what we want to get close to so you can transfer a similar enthusiasm to you community management and interactions with community members.

Next up is locating some resources to learn from. Reading and researching your topic will help get you excited about it, as writers are generally passionate themselves about their topic matter. Search out some blogs in the Technorati Blog Directory, or via Google. Bloggers of ten recommend books to read within their niche of interest; pick these up as well. Subscribing to a couple of podcasts is worht doing as well as you can listen to these on the way to and from work.

As you learn about the various aspect of the topic you are researching, write down your ideas and spend some time expanding on them. You will naturally discover angles you are more interested in and want to know more about.

Finally, don’t just rely on reading and listening material; to develop a passion for something, you need to transform this knowledge into skill. Developing your skills will also help develop your passion and enthusiasm.

Build the muscle

You’ve heard the expression before: Just like a muscle, pushing yourself to just outside of your current comfort zone and exercising passion will encourage it to grow and develop in intensity. I’m sure you’ve experienced that physical astrophy when you don’t exercise for a while and your muscles shrink and weaken. Treat your passion in the same way and give it a regular workout to ensure it is always available to you to draw upon.

But this can be a bit of a bind if you are lacking in confidence at first. A classic trick to overcome doubt or shyness is to pretend you feel something, and “fake it till you make it”. As a natural sceptic I ignored this piece of advice for a long time, but having had cause to apply it recently, it did help me through a period of personal growth.

After a while of pretending, the feeling will develop as you gain in confidence and the knowledge you have been storing in your brain will start to seep through in your speech. 

So go out and experience the subject you are trying to develop passion for. Pretend, work that muscle and cling on to that benchmark feeling we discussed at the start of this article. Review your experience and repeat, taking on board any learnings.

Follow through

Once you’ve gotten into the habit of informing yourself on your online community’s topic, and started expressing your knowledge and hopefully developing your passion for it, the hardest part is fully engaging with the theory and challenging standard thinking on the subject. Asking yourself theoretical questions will encourage you to look at the tangents and investigate the finer intellectual points of your chosen topic.

Challenging currently accepted theories is the first serious step towards engaging your new community, and encouraging its participants to grow together.

In the same way, once you feel your knowledge is sufficient, start reaching out to less-knowledgeable members and teaching them the basics. Think of the knowledge ladder pictured above; as you look upwards towards your next step, you might easily forget that others are still struggling with the lower ones. Reach down and help them step up and you will be acting as a great community leader.

Teaching others is a great way to cement your knowledge, and you will find it becomes a selling point for your online community or brand; to stand in front of people and sell them your knowledge, you need to be passionate. When you are successful in this it will feed your passion and encourage you to move onto the next step of the knowledge ladder.

Finally, surround yourself by people who are passionate about the topic. Organise offline events for your community members to get together, or look for professional organisations to partner with, which will feed new members into your community.

Now that you are well onto the path of developing a passion for the topic of your community, make sure to organise practical activities to keep putting your new knowledge into action. You only need one or two simple ones, as these will be enough to continue to feed your passion and help you bring new angles of thought to your online community.

Have you had cause to learn how to be passionate about a new topic? How did it work out for you? Do you know of any other great templates to develop passion?

[photo by degreezero2000]

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