The world we live in is becoming a world where isolation and lack of human connection is the norm. We don’t know our next door neighbors. Technology means we don’t actually have to talk to or interact with anyone. Our jobs take us far away from friends and family.
As I watch these realities day in and day out, I’m struck by the contrast of the rapidly rising trend in the demand for communities. The more our complex world isolates us, the more we seek out human connection and a place to belong.
I listen to conversations about this all the time, whether I’m working with a client, speaking at an event, or just sitting in a coffee shop or in the airport. And here’s what I’ve gotten to: in many ways we long to live and do business the way our grandparents did. We want to know the butcher. We want to talk to the mailman. We want a relationship with the truck farmer at the farmer’s market. We want to be recognized at our favorite Saturday breakfast place.
These longings and wants create an incredible opportunity for businesses that are committed to building communities for both their customers and their employees. Organizations who understand our drive for connection and meaning are perfectly poised to fill these needs and create a lasting bond that increases engagement, loyalty and revenue.
So how do you make this happen? Create a village. Before you start singing “YMCA” (a great community building song by the way!), I have a few ideas to get you started:
- Make sure your community members know their neighbors. Take the lead in making introductions either online or face-to-face rather than hosting a get to know you event and hoping people will show up.
- If at all possible, gather your community for a live event. Virtual communication is great, but nothing replaces the fire-power of real-life connections.
- Have a Welcome Wagon system set up for new people that is composed of other community members working along with specific staff.
- Give members the opportunity to help and support each other by setting up small group discussions based around topics suggested by group members.
- Give your members a way to hold leadership positions in the community and allow them to have a say in how the community is run.
Pick one or two of these ideas and come up with a few small, simple actions you can take to make them happen in the next week. If you get stuck, stop and ask yourself “If this were a real village, what would need to happen?”
And of course I’m always curious about your thoughts. I learn so much from you! Please share your tips and ideas in the comments below and let’s talk about them.