I remember when Facebook first launched. I was out of college, but a tech-savvy student intern at my job got me an account somehow (back when you needed a .edu email address). It wasn’t all that great to be honest. But I kept playing around with it and posting.
After about a year, I had a new job that required me to run programs and host events on college campuses and try to get students to come. I leaned heavily on Facebook and was able to quickly build an excellent network of college students, and especially student group leaders.
This led to an amazing job offer a few years later, as I continued to launch a career. I kept using Facebook, and as an early user with a network of early users, I had a huge advantage. In a few years, my Facebook audience and engagement was really high, and tightly targeted around freedom-loving college students and recent grads.
When I launched my first company, I had no money for marketing. My Facebook reach was awesome though, and I was able to mostly bootstrap into profitability based almost entirely on it.
Now, eight years later, Facebook doesn’t do that much for my career or company (unless we pay for it). It’s too late in the game and the competition is fierce. Being there early opened up so much. Not only jobs, but chances to publish articles, do speaking gigs, and (a few years later when podcasting was on the rise) do interviews.
I had similar experiences with Medium and Quora, and most recently Twetch. Getting on and active very early in the game led to some pretty big payoff and many unexpected connections and career opportunities.
I’m older and at a much later stage in my life and career, so it’s hard to keep up with new networks and products like I used to. The payoff also isn’t as high, as my network is strong and wide already. I could still benefit from being an early adopter for sure, but if you are early in your career, the benefits are much bigger.
When you see a new thing you think is kinda cool, try it! Get on, get active, and stay active for at least 6 months. It’s amazing what can happen. Not only do you have disproportionate reach, but the small number of users on any new platform or product are going to be a pretty tight niche, rather than the random assortment of people in later-stage apps. Niches are powerful things in your career. They are like clusters of super nodes in your network. Far more valuable than the same number of people without shared interest.
Early adopter communities are powerhouses when it comes to increasing your luck surface. Being an active, generous, open, fun early adopter can even get you connected to the people who built the community or product.
Go try some stuff out!