Beginning Introduction

Whether you are worried about workload, reticent to share, or just not comfortable with digital tools, this section will help you get started.

There are important reasons to be active online. Your audiences:

  • are already online
  • are looking for you
  • expect you to engage with them
  • are asking questions, looking for information, making contributions and purchases
  • want to identify as a fan or follower

You may find this section vital at the outset, or you might want to skip ahead. Regardless of how you begin, you can return to this section for tools and inspiration whenever you hit obstacles along the way.

A journey of a thousand milesor followersbegins with a single step.

15 minutes to skim
45 minute exercise
15 minute reflection
15 minutes to explore links
1.5 hours total

Practitioners on Getting Started Interviews

Make It @ Your Library
“Our biggest fear was that people wouldn’t find us, or if they did, our mission wouldn’t resonate…”

Make It @ Your Library saw a need and created a multi-organizational online group to fill it. We reached out to Victoria Rakowski and Katy Hite to learn about how they began.

Read the Interview

“I sat in trepidation having some real barriers because I was ignorant, frankly, about how easy it is to use social media.”

Eugenia Bowman talked about fear and strategy in her role as executive director at AXIS and about how they grew their social media profile and engaged ambassadors to expand their reach.

Read the Interview

Create a Personal Advisory Board Exercise

A personal advisory board is a group of people whose work, approach, or attitude inspires you. In practice, the board is a tool for motivation or problem solving that helps you get through challenges. It is a go-to resource for times when you feel stuck, overwhelmed, or uncertain about how to move forward.

Your advisory board can be real—comprised of people you know personally and plan to reach out to for help. Or it can be imaginary—featuring leaders in your field, historic figures, famous people, etc., whose symbolic characteristics or approaches bolster your confidence or provide models for action.

Step 1: Decide if your board will be real or imaginary

An imaginary advisory board can be a source of inspiration; a real one can be a resource when you need advice. Either will work!

Step 2: Brainstorm

Use the following prompts to create a list of potential board members:

  1. I want to share my professional aspirations and struggles with…
  2. Creatively, I would like to be more like…
  3. I am consistently inspired by the work of…
  4. I have learned so much from…

Step 3: Narrow

Narrow your list down to at least four but no more than twelve board members. Aim for diversity and discernment and keep membership meaningful so you can name everyone by memory.

Step 4: Create

If your board is imaginary, create a physical or virtual board. A physical board is a visual reminder in your workspace. A virtual board could be made on a platform like Pinterest (an examplewhere you pin photos of your advisors, even including quotes or reasons why they inspire you.

If your board is real, create an email list (TinyLetter is a good tool) and reach out to your desired board members. Feel free to use this email template as a starting point.

Step 5: Use Your Board

If your advisory board is imaginary, let it be a source of encouragement. For example, if you have troubling growing your network or if an initiative doesn’t have the response you hoped for, reflect on how your board members would handle the situation and how they might help you.

If your advisory board is real, reach out when you have a specific question or challenge, or send occasional email updates. Thanking your members periodically by sending a real note in the mail is a nice touch to show your appreciation.

Consider Risk Reflection

Everyone varies in their risk aversion. You might feel comfortable with some kinds of risk (financial), but not others (emotional).

Imagine that you have an idea for an Instagram feed, but you’re not confident about it yet. Your idea has a lot of potential, but it could also fail. Review the statements below. Ask yourself: Which is most like you when it comes to professional/work-related risk-taking?

Click on an image for suggestions on being more risk tolerant in that situation.

Ask for permission or ask for forgiveness?

Ask for permission or ask for forgiveness?

Plan and research or learn as I go?

Plan and research or learn as I go?

Hope no one notices or explain what went wrong?

Hope no one notices or explain what went wrong.

Feel paralyzed when I'm unsure or fake it 'til I make it.

Feel paralyzed when I’m unsure or fake it ’til I make it.

Go with what has worked in the past or try something different to see how it might work?

Go with what has worked in the past or try something different to see how it might work?

Focus on what went wrong or focus on what I learned?

Focus on what went wrong or focus on what I learned?

Resources on Failure with NAS Go Further

National Arts Strategies

National Arts Strategies is a leading education provider for the arts and culture field, working with individuals, institutions and communities to tailor solutions for applying new ideas and perspectives within unique situations.

# 1 — When You Should Worry About Failure, and When You Shouldn’t

Failure is often painted with a very broad brush. This article makes the important distinction between “good” (occasional) failure and “bad” (systemic) failure.

# 2 — Why Success Always Starts with Failure

A very straightforward, practical recipe for dealing with failure and being adaptive.

# 3 — Five Lessons Only Failure Can Teach You

This article acknowledges the emotional aspects of failure and the conflicts that may arise from it. Softening energy and intention setting are highlighted among tools for dealing with (and avoiding) failure/conflict.

# 4 — The Art of Failure

An excellent perspective-taking collection of articles featuring failure stories from Toni Morrison, Perry Chen, Sarah Kaufman, and other artists and entrepreneurs.

# 5 — Who is Allowed to Fail?

The author asks us to think about failure as a luxury to which not everyone has access.

Know What You're Getting Into Think Deeper

Digital engagement offers opportunities but it also raises ethical questions about the nature of your work, ad-driven platforms, interaction with fake accounts, and distraction culture. Consider these questions as you move forward:

How will you take care of yourself?

Social media is always on. As a worker in these spaces, be aware of holding yourself to a standard of responsiveness that eats away at your energy. How will you establish boundaries so that you don’t empty your reserves?

How will you deal with your personal need for competency or perfection?

Digital platforms and practices regularly evolve and require constant adjustment to platform changes, trends, and innovations. You’ll often find yourself in learning mode, which runs counter to a drive for perfection. How can you develop comfort with adaptive learning, trial and error, and the missteps that come as part of exploring this changing terrain?

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This course was created to encourage small and under-resourced non-profit professionals to navigate the changing landscapes of digital engagement with a spirit of possibility, experimentation, and thoughtfulness.

Read more about what inspired the course and learn about its makers.

Wanderway was commissioned by the Wyncote Foundation

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