A diploma is the final step in a traditional education, but in the DIY world, credit comes from the reputation you build by doing good work and demonstrating it to others in a community. The rules of this world are informal and evolving, but joining and demonstrating value to a network is not optional for success in the 21st century. Here’s a guide to becoming a valued part of a network.
- Pick your path. The community you want to be a part of should reflect your passion. If you don’t see it among the ones listed below, search until you find it, or form your own by expanding out from your personal learning network.
- Show up. Your profile on an online network must include samples of your work, whether it’s writing, photographs, video, audio, or code, or at least written descriptions with photos of projects you’ve done. The more time you spend presenting yourself and sharing stuff, the more you’ll show up.
- Help others. Good citizenship in a reputation-based network means being helpful in any way you can: pitching in on another’s project, offering feedback, publicity, support, or just answering questions from newcomers. The golden rule rules.
- Meet up. Whether it’s a local mixer at a bar, panel discussion, workshop, or a big national or international conference, shared-interest communities like to meet up in person. This is the way to solidify your connections and find new opportunities. Go.
- Keep an ear out for opportunities. Some networks have job boards, others just have informal connections. Some one-year courses at community colleges also are designed to prepare you for certificates.