Continuing on from our last article about the Importance of Networks and Community, we need to have a good look at how we can connect with others. You know what you need, but how do you create a plan to move forward? How do you get from A to B?
How to Build Community
There are so many different elements and people that make up a community, community groups – in person and online, local sporting clubs, networks and organisations. These are the people you can make new friends with, meet up with for coffee, shared activities or social sport.
Here are some great ways to interact with a new community:
- Get to know new people: Ask questions and listen
- Invite people in: Meet someone for coffee, ask someone to share their story or expertise at a group event
- Contribute: Share your own experience or skills without needing anything in return
- Use the community for help and advice
- Share the opportunities: Make sure all members of the community are benefiting from what you all share.
Do a bit of research around your community and find some ways you can connect, assist and contribute.
- Can you do some volunteer work?
- Become the Manager or coach of your child’ sports team?
- Assist with shopping/spending time with elderly community residents
- Become a mentor
- Join your local SES or Rural fire service
- Join a social sports team
- Get involved with your church
How To Grow Your Networks
This depends entirely on WHY you want to grow your network. Is it to enhance your business? Further your career or gain specific information before a job interview?
Think about what you want to know before you look at who you know that might be able to help you. For instance, friends in specific industries, recruiters or professional connections such as your work colleagues or from a platform such as LinkedIn.
Think about what can be achieved from a good network:
- Do they have something to offer you?
- What can you offer to them?
- Do you want to speak to them to gain information, other connections, or just a chat?
- Can they help you with something specific: Maybe a foot in the door for a new job, A reference or recommendation?
Pick a shortlist of people you think would be helpful to you and reach out with a short, personalised message. It should state what you are after, whom (if anyone) has recommended them to you and what you might be able to offer in return. Everyone is different and some may reply with an email, or others agree to an invitation for coffee. Most people love to be thought of as useful to others, but don’t be upset if not everyone has time to help you.
Some other ways to grow your networks:
Work for free: get your name out there by doing a few jobs pro bono
Join a workshop or do some study: You can meet like minded people this way
Find a mentor or a coach
Join an association or group for your industry or interest area
At the end of the day it’s about starting small. Pick one or two ideas to try. Don’t go overboard and message everyone on your LinkedIn list or join every local club you can find. Look for things that resonate with you. Try one thing at a time and if it ends up not being your thing, or the connections don’t eventuate or friendships don’t gel – look for something else.
There’s a whole world out there….you just have to find your tribe.
Just Be You, Everyday