Can't Go With Wrong Being Helpful on the Internet

Aug 21 2020

The space of what we can possibly do with our time is overwhelmingly large. So much content to consume. So many project ideas to evaluate. So many people to talk to.

To cut through the noise, here's a heuristic I find useful: be helpful on the internet .

Being helpful is a proven way to make others and yourself happy. Doing so on the internet broadens the set of options of how you can help, and amplifies the impact.

There are now over 4.5 billion people connected to the internet, in almost every corner of the world. Most of these people are a message or email away. The potential audience and reach is there. Do you have something to reach them with? A reason to get in touch?

Everyone Has Something to Contribute

Whatever it is you are doing/have done, chances are there are many others trying to do the same. Some further along in their journey, some a little less experienced.

Everyone can have something interesting to share, even if it appears mundane at first. Be it moving to a new city/country , landing a tech job ,  cooking minimalist vegan food , or even experience going on cruises .

The internet allows like-minded folks to congregate. Your weirdness becomes a plus.

Documenting Your Learnings

In my first-hand experience, the mere act of documenting and sharing my learnings has already generated a lot of interest, outreach from interesting folks (who would otherwise be strangers), and meaningful conversations over emails/DMs.

Even with my limited audience, my article about running a semi-successful online store has garnered thousands of impressions, and my post describing my experience learning 9 languages kick-started conversations with fellow language lovers. Even if the idea you are communicating isn't completely "original", it is often helpful to others to see more concrete examples and real-life experience as anecdotal data points.

I am still early in the process of publishing my experiences online. And I am thrilled to keep contributing my experience and see where it leads.

Teaching Helps You Learn

A direct benefit of sharing what you've learned with others is that it helps you understand the subject better. It is similar to the technique used by Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman .

In the process of documenting and sharing your learnings, you naturally dig a little deeper with your research. You reflect on what you know. You articulate the message more precisely and crisply. You trim the fat.

This solidifies your learning. It crystalizes your understanding on the topic.

Giving Before Taking

Both competing for your attention, claims made by a random stranger get evaluated against a much higher bar than messages from your grandma. The same is true for the work you put out, the content you write, the products you create.

We all want to hear/buy from people we already like. As you help more people along the way, you develop relationships with them. Those who already know you will certainly be more receptive to whatever you have to say next, and are more forgiving of your flaws.

As an example from my own experience, I spent some time putting together a searchable knowledge base of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ) techniques and learning resources. It was quite a bit of work to put together, and is valuable to those who want to supplement their training. I simply shared it for free without asking for anything, and received hundreds of enthusiastic responses.

I am enjoying every bit of this learning journey so far. And I am thrilled to to continue contributing my experience living in this crazy world. What a time to be alive!

Hope you enjoyed this post. Let's stay in touch.