On Switchboard, users post “asks” and “offers”—they ask their community for what they need, and offer their community what they have to give. But when you post an ask, it can be hard to know exactly what you’re looking for. This success story is about Stephanie, and how her community helped her find direction even when she didn’t know quite what to ask for.
Stephanie posted on Switchboard because she felt more comfortable contacting members of her community, even if she didn’t know them, than she did contacting complete strangers on LinkedIn. “I’m not great at talking to people, and I find contacting and possibly bothering people I don’t know to be extremely difficult,” she says. “Switchboard is home to a community that I love and am familiar with, filled with people who are either just like me or expressly looking to help people like me, which is immensely reassuring.” Switchboard provides a space online where members of the same community can feel at home.
In her ask, Stephanie wrote that she was interested in everything from library science to law. She didn’t know exactly what to ask for, but she reached out to her community with faith that someone would be willing to help. “When I posted, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect,” Stephanie says. “I knew my ask was a bit vague. After all, my whole problem is that I’m trying to find direction.”
Stephanie’s ask paid off—two people, Lauren and Steve, contacted her through Switchboard and offered her advice. “The really excellent thing was that they both helped me with what they personally could share while also directing me towards my next step,” Stephanie says. “It’s a pay-it-forward kind of situation, and it carries on way beyond just that initial post and response exchange.” Now that Stephanie has found direction, she is not only in a position to post offers for her community in the future, but invested in giving back to her community by paying it forward.
Stephanie has become a Switchboard evangelist within her community, and every new Switchboarder she enlists makes her community’s Switchboard more useful. Stephanie recommends Switchboard to her friends “not only to get them started in meeting people and practicing making connections, but for selfish reasons as well—the more people who get involved in Switchboard, the more information, and the more useful it is to everyone.”