Community = Growth + Connection

Community is a potent force. We’re social animals, and coming together around shared goals gives us room to grow and truly connect with each other. It’s the growth and connection that make communities so invaluable and sought after, and the more we understand the driving forces behind our communities, the better we can be shining, loyal members of them.

It often seems like lone geniuses grow in leaps and bounds, but the truth is there are usually people behind the scenes who help them on the road to success. Ideas may occur in isolation, but they come to be through collaboration and community, which is why you can’t grow a business if no one knows about you or buys from you. You need a community of peers and mentors to spur you on through the rough patches, and you need a community of consumers & clients to buy what you’re selling.

The more deeply enmeshed you are in the right communities, the easier it is to make the personal and professional connections you need to grow your business. Good business depends on expertise and goodwill, and if you have one without the other, you’ll stay stuck playing a smaller game than you’re capable of playing. Is that enough for you?

Of course, communities are 2-way groups; if you get a reputation as a taker, people will be leery of getting closer to you or sending business your way. But if you’re known as a generous team player who genuinely cares about people, it’ll be easier to attract the kind of clientele and recommendations you desire. People respond to generosity and genuineness, so letting them shine through in your character makes you a prime candidate for goodwill referrals and more “Yes!” moments in your sales.

Community is a sacred container for your business. Attending industry talks, conferences, and fundraisers can raise your profile, enrich your social ties, and introduce you to the right people. Remember, being genuine and generous goes a long way, and sometimes that’s all you need to break into a new market. Savvy business owners pride themselves on their B.S. meters, aka their intuition, so if you make the right impression, they’ll be interested in getting to know you better and helping you any way they can. I don’t need to tell you how great that can be for your growth, revenue, and profits!

Community is also a sacred container for your business because you can bounce ideas off each other and plug the leaky holes that make the difference between flops and roaring successes. This usually happened in controlled groups like masterminds and with accountability buddies, but it can just as easily happen over a cup of coffee with a colleague. The point is having the right sort of feedback helps you polish your ideas to their highest form so you can dazzle your potential clients and customers, and dazzling them is a very good thing for your bottom line.

Again, you want to make sure you’re in the right place to suit your needs and personality. If you do best in small, intimate settings, forcing yourself to endure large, non-intimate gatherings may not be the right move for you. It’s important to create an environment that lets you shine, so if you end up hiding or glowering in a corner, you’re missing the point of the exercise. Be open to new things, but be able to enjoy yourself while at it. If it feels like pulling teeth or stabbing yourself in the eye, it’s time for a new game plan.

When you’re in the right place, you can be yourself and happily contribute to the others in your group. Feeling at ease uncorks your creativity and generosity, so it’s great for fostering connection and making room for growth. Feeling at ease also means you don’t censor your ideas or contributions and don’t have to worry about offending anybody when you’re simply being yourself. Of course some occasions will call for diplomacy and tact, but you’ll still be able to speak your mind without stuffing the words back down your throat because you’re afraid of offending somebody or saying the wrong thing.

You already know this, but you can’t build an enjoyable business if you’re afraid to be yourself. Didn’t you start your own business so you could have fun AND profits? Just like you’ve been disappointed by people who weren’t who you thought they were, your clients will be disappointed if your image fails to match your personality. You need to bridge the gap so your marketing and services deliver the exact same thing, or you won’t have repeat consumers. And people can always tell if you’re not all in, so remember that when you’re tempted to edit out the quirks that make you you. Let your true self shine through, and don’t forget that you’re here to serve the people who want what only you can offer, not contort yourself to fit into any preconceived notions of who you are and what you do.

Of course, being yourself means you don’t have to jump on fads or trends that don’t mesh with what you want for yourself; you can just show up, do your thing, and know that you’re enough. Knowing your own mind and worth make you attractive to other people because they respect the strength it takes to do your thing when there are so many sycophants and copycats floating around. Authenticity has no competition, and the more you do your thing, the more you’ll attract people to you.

Community is great for growth & connection, but you have to show up to get the full benefits. When you’re brave enough to be your genuine, generous self, you foster goodwill with the people who’ll move your business forward and/or recommend you to new clients. And when you relax enough to be yourself without digging for connections, you spark an organic process that takes you where you want to go without jumping down anyone’s throat for new business. Nobody likes pushy, overaggressive people, so remember to breathe, smile, and go with the flow.

Attracting people to you will always win over railroading them into doing what you want. Act accordingly.

Photo by "My Life Through A Lens" on Unsplash