The Value of Community
I used to work out of a home office... There were too many days when I felt isolated and overwhelmed, as if I had do to it all on my own.
Recently talking with some of our Holistic Chamber of Commerce Chapter Presidents, the benefits of networking in a community of like-minded professionals - both online and at local meetings - came up. Meeting visitors often have questions about how it works.
After asking around, I found that Judy Santos, owner of OfficeSlice CoWorking, has a helpful definition to start with: "Community has a variety of meanings. Families buy into a neighborhood because of the "community" and entrepreneurs can join a coworking space to gain community, or your hobby can place you automatically into a community. But what does community really mean? I believe it to be a collection of people, from various industries, locales and backgrounds, brought together for a common purpose. We all belong to a number of communities, and participation in the community is the key to its success."
However you personally define community, most people seem to agree it can be very helpful in providing support for personal and/or professional success. Here are ideas to help you make the most of a business-oriented community:
1. Meeting new people, creating relationships and then being introduced beyond them has created a ripple effect of others learning about our services. Ahhh, yes, networking! In groups of where everyone has a similar set of values, it's easier to share perspectives that encourage us to go beyond our current comfort zone to find a new audience.
2. Better business brainstorming: When I have a dilemma, I see it from my own perspective. By sharing it with someone else, they may see an aspect and a solution that was hidden from me. I will always remember when professional organizer Jeana Watts was talking with realtor Andrea McGilvray and she was given the idea to meet more real estate agents (what better time to organize than when you are moving in or out of a home or office?). Talk about a great idea!
3. Collaborations create influence: In the realm of shopping, we understand the good prices Costco offers because of the quantity of members they represent. In the world of advocacy, large organizations have a stronger voice for influencing legislation and policy. How do we create connections that do the same for us and our market niche? By coming together, especially in a professional organization, we can negotiate from a stronger position and advocate for our cause and community in places of power.
4. Easier access for each of us and everyone else: Groupings of similar products and services help people know where to go to find what they are looking for (i.e. food court, auto mall). In the world of holistic, natural and "green", large organizations simplify the work of reaching new consumers by creating websites that are growing and attract more attention for everyone involved on an ongoing basis. In fact, Selfgrowth.com is an example of how this works. Likewise, the Holistic Chamber of Commerce takes a different approach with the same intention: How do we attract more mainstream consumers to holistic and sustainable professionals, practitioners and businesses?
As I consider my vision in the form of the Holistic Chamber of Commerce, I realize that the community here is creating the collaborations that will help us have greater impact in the world around us.
Where do you find the people who help you do what you do? Where do you find your community?
Camille Leon is the Founder and Director of The Holistic Chamber of Commerce, a growing community of professionals, practitioners and business people who support each other in blending spiritual values with building businesses and helping consumers find holistic and eco-friendly solutions. She is also a speaker and author. For more information or to become a Member, please visit http://HolisticChamberOfCommerce.com.