The Surprising Power of Community

I don’t think anyone disagrees that community is valuable but people underestimate the power of relationships and many do not prioritize investing time in their community building efforts. Our relationships, the people in our lives, can solve all problems and solve them best and most efficiently. My best clients have come from referrals, all of the team members that I love working with every day have come from referrals. Outstanding companies with great cultures don’t have big talent acquisition problems because their employees stay and their employees refer new recruits. And finally, when a fire arises in business, be it a financial or legal challenge, for example, the best way to solve it is to share the challenge with a relationship and allow them to help with a trusted referral.

Relationship building is one of those things that is simple, not easy.

Here are some key things to consider when prioritizing your efforts to build meaningful relationships.

1. Be strategic in who you seek to build relationships with and invest time pursuing.

Think about the value you have to offer to others and the types of people you most need to meet. Once you have this defined, which could be your ideal prospects or key partner types, then think about who are others that don’t do the work you do, but also need to meet these people too. For a simple example, a mortgage professional and a homeowners insurance professional both flourish from meaningful relationships with realtors. They both win if they help each other meet realtor contacts and doing it together lightens each other’s load. Plus, it can be a lot of fun doing business development when you have a team helping each other.

2. Find a professional association or networking group to join.

Being in a formal organization provides a system for you to meet and advance relationship building efforts. There are meeting times in place for the group to gather and the group regularly invites new people to join. In reflecting on point number one above, make sure that you join groups where you can add value and where the people you need to meet hang out. Make sure to highly vet the group and its culture and purpose to ensure you feel committed to the cause or the why. Once you commit, be conscious of your attendance, follow up and follow through in order to maximize this effort.

3. Community creates accountability.

When you join a group of people with shared goals, it creates accountability for all parties. Members hold each other accountable for attendance and results. I am a big fan of mastermind-like groups that learn together and define weekly or monthly goals that they hold each other to accomplishing. In order to really grow, you have to pursue new things and share goals aloud and be grateful when others hold you accountable. Make sure you show up as accountability for others too.

4. Keep score of your giving.

The best way to advance relationships is to help others get traction and results. Reflect on the last time you got a great referral from someone. I bet you had that person top of mind because of your gratitude for their generosity in helping you. Pay it forward as often as possible to your key relationships and watch how greatness flows your way. I love the motto: “givers gain” and believe it is so true!

I spent time with Ira Wolfe and Jason Cochran on Geeks, Geezers & Googlization talking about this very topic. You can hear the full conversation here.

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