Building Your Community

push pin mash up of the work "community"

Source: socialmediaexaminer.com

I sat down with a friend recently to share stories about the holidays and how the new year has started, but also to talk opportunity. He talked at length about how his professional environment was impacting his personal environment in a very negative way. His comments didn’t surprise me as many of the people I connect with are feeling similar feelings. It’s unfortunate, but as the economy improves, a study by Manpower found that 84% of workers would begin looking for new lines of work because they are that unhappy with their boss or their organization. My friend is in an unenviable position, he’s paid very well for what he does, but he’s terribly unhappy. He’s being forced to accept increasingly bad tradeoffs, in exchange for his hefty paycheck. For some reason, I don’t think he’ll put up with it for much longer. He, and his community, deserve a more meaningful existence.

Towards the end of our conversation, I asked him, “How often do you connect with people you’ve never met before?”

He gave a half-hearted response that led me to believe that it wasn’t often. I know of a person who did an internship at Cisco Systems and conducted 55 informational interviews in three months. Talk about building your community. She clearly feared mediocrity. She didn’t fear whether or not someone was going to say no to her meeting request. Many did. She chose to “go for no”. The more times she heard “no”, the more times she heard “yes”.

She is a connector.

Here are practical tips for building and adding value to your community:

  • Seek New Opportunity – Operate like my friend and reach out to new people every day. Learn about what they do and how you can help them achieve their goals. Undoubtedly, your hard work for them will come back to you in unexpected ways.
  • Never Eat Alone – Regardless of whether you’re meeting new people or current acquaintances, good conversation over a meal opens doors. You may learn of leads for new business, philanthropic opportunities, or help the other person create her meaningful community.
  • Stay Top of Mind – If you are learning continually, you will come across interesting ideas, people, or articles. When you see a link between what you just learned and one of your acquaintances, forward the information with a brief note. Showing that you care by taking the time to make the connection will foster engagement and further growth of your community.
  • Organize Events – If there is a cause you are passionate about, send messages to your community to get them to attend. I recently volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. After I posted a picture on Facebook, I was besieged with messages asking to be included next time. As you attend or create events that connect people, eudemonia will be created and new relationships will be formed.
  • Be Fulfilled Personally – If you are unhappy, the previous four items will not be relevant. Find ways to ensure that you are engaged in your life’s activities. Others will sense your contentment and feed off of it. Read my blog post about the myth of work-life balance here. You shouldn’t strive for balance, seek activities that drive personal merriment.

The building of your community will take time, but the effort is more than worth it. Instead of going to a job that extracts meaning from your life on a daily basis, you’ll be creating the exact opposite, a life full of memorable experiences. Industrial economies in the developed world are giving way to knowledge economies of the 21st century. In order to become indispensable in your community, you must understand that your knowledge and connections are saleable products and are the equivalent of the natural resources countries used to derive wealth in the 20th century.

My advice?

Educate yourself. Grow your community. Create triple bottom line wealth.