Supplementing Your Knowledge Through Online Communities And Forums
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How To Connect And Share Your Knowledge Through Online Communities And Forums

How can you further develop a skill you have learned? How can you clear your doubts and get answers to your questions? How will you constantly stay updated in your industry?

With so many resources available in today’s digitized world, where is the right place to look?

Well, there is one popular place—online communities and forums.

Online communities and forums provide learners with a platform to share their thoughts, have healthy discussions, get feedback, clarify their questions, and learn new, industry-relevant information. It provides an avenue for like-minded people to connect and share knowledge.

First of all, let’s understand the difference between online communities and forums. Online communities are platforms where questions will be asked, and members can answer. Forums are more like discussion groups where people speak their opinions and share information. The thread of questions and answers, and discussions will be visible for anyone to see. Sometimes, they will be visible only to members. A majority of these online communities and forums are free to use. Anyone can create an account, ask and answer questions, and participate in discussions.

How To Choose The Right Community

There are a huge number of communities and forums present. It is important to choose the right one according to your needs. Before choosing the right place, decide on the purpose and be specific. For example, ‘I want to know more about creating authority using backlinks from case studies’. Having a clear vision of your goal will help you shortlist the communities and forums.

After having a clear and specific purpose, check the most frequently used online communities and forums in your particular niche. If you have some demographic-specific needs, be sure to shortlist them. Now you will have a condensed list of online communities and forums.

According to the 90-9-1 rule, 90 percent of users are lurkers, 9 percent are occasional contributors and 1 percent are heavy contributors. So, check the number of active participants in your niche. It’s of no use to join a popular platform and later realize that there are no contributors to your niche.

Now, most of the communities will have an option to see specific topics based on tags. Use this option to see the quality of the questions and answers in your specific field. If it is satisfactory and already making you interested in reading more, then select the particular community. If the questions and answers aren’t up to the mark, do not waste your time. You can do the same for forums, too.

In the end, you will have a list of four to five online communities and forums. Create an account, understand how it works and start utilizing it for your purpose.

As you start using, you will find two or three online communities and forums that you prefer more than the rest. Ditch the others and start concentrating on these selected ones, going back to the others only when you feel the need to learn more.

If you are enrolling in an eLearning course, see if it has any communities or forums. You can become a part of it and gain wider insights from your fellow learners when you are taking up the course.

Making The Best Use Of Online Communities And Forums

Participate. Participate. Participate.

Concentrate on one or two communities and actively participate. Do not dilute your contribution to many platforms.

Sharing your knowledge will do more than just helping others gain knowledge. When you pitch in to answer questions that you have knowledge about, people will start recognizing you more.

It doesn’t mean you need to know everything and answer all the time. When you see any topics or some explanations that were useful to you, leave a thoughtful comment. Make sure it is more detailed than just a ‘thank you for sharing this thought’.

Though the platforms will have a huge number of users, only a few people will be frequently active. According to the Society of New Communications Research, nearly 31 percent of the users in online communities are passive participants who observe others’ interactions. When you are seen as a regular user, people will respect and recognize you more. And when you have a question, many will be more than happy to help out or have a discussion with you.

Build A Relationship

You can see a lot of experts on these platforms. These experts have high knowledge in a majority of things discussed in the niche. But why do you think they are using these platforms?

According to the Society of New Communications Research, nearly 80 percent of people participating in online communities do it to share information and help people. Sometimes, community involvement can lead to personal discussions in emails or messages that can create a long-lasting professional relationship from which both people will gain more knowledge.

Be Smart And Proactive

When you see a question answered well and you have a related question, ask it in the same thread instead of starting a new segment. You can even direct the question to the person who answered the original question to get a quality response without much effort.

Before asking a question or starting a discussion, check to see if there is similar content already on the community or forum. If you find similar threads, check those to see if they satisfy your needs. If not, do not ask the same question as the one that already exists. Similar questions will mostly be left unattended. Reframe your questions in an engaging way to get it through to the users.

Online communities and forums will enrich, empower and enlighten you. With the right approach, these will become a crucial part of your continuous learning process.

Share your knowledge and gain a lot more on the way! Make good use of these platforms to easily and swiftly gain knowledge.

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