Communities of Practice and Credibility

There’s nothing like finding what you really enjoy doing. It gives you a sense of empowerment, an energy that nothing else does. And that’s great. That’s exactly how it should be. But as the internet records everything, you now have to be very careful about how you present yourself to your new field.

A while back, I ran across a college student offering classes in her field. She was up front about being a college student. about her history working in the family business (which is a different field). She explained she had years of experience in her field, and it’s possible she spent time during her childhood pursuing the field. She claimed to be a communications major, but her website lacked design principles or readable copy. I appreciated her enthusiasm, but closed the tab. She just hadn’t inspired much confidence in her claims.

A couple of weeks later, she came into a LinkedIn¬†group and, in an overly bubbly manner, introduced herself as being brand new to the field and just so excited to break in. Recognizing the name, I said nothing but went back to the website, which did in fact claim she was experienced at both the craft and managing other practitioners of the craft. I checked the Facebook groups for some of the other local industry groups. Her name was nowhere to be found in either membership or posts. Her website’s credibility was shot.

It’s something to keep in mind as we’re putting ourselves out there. Take an interest in something. Join local and online groups interested in the same industry. Contribute what you can, but never, ever represent yourself as something you aren’t. I didn’t bust this poor college student, but it won’t take long for others to uncover the same things I did, and then she’ll have to deal with the trouble of cleaning up her mess.

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