How to become a valued member of Geekdom (or any startup community)

So, when people ask how they can get into a community like Geekdom, I talk about “giving first.” You get paid back in multiples of what you give. This is the essence of a book I’ve recently learned to love called Give and Take by Adam Grant.

There tend to be three types of people in a community:

  • Givers: Who give to the community often more than they receive. These people make themselves valuable by helping others without expectation of return.
  • Takers: Those who look for the community to do for them. I’ll hear these people saying things like, “I joined Geekdom to find xyz.”
  • Matchers: These people give but only in a quid pro quo fashion. “Do this for me and I’ll do for you.”

In four years at Geekdom, I’ve seen the Takers grab what they can and disappear. Over time, the community has learned to not help those people.

The Givers become trusted members of the community. They give time, money, or effort without expectation of a specific return. In a sense, they’re depositing in the “Karma Bank” and someday the universe will  pay them back.

It’s also not that hard. Ask around: “What gaps are there in the community today?” Try to solve for those.

Michael Girdley