Connected Communities – why they matter
Home is not where you live but where they understand you.
~ Christian Morgenstern
Whether it’s in business or in life, it’s human nature to crave connection and community, to want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Your community might be your neighbors gathered for drinks on your back deck on a Friday evening or an informal group of advisors you rely on for support and advice. It might be a formal mentoring or business network that you’ve paid to join. For me, a community is a home. It’s the place where frustrations and successes are shared. It’s where they’re celebrated and puzzled over too.
Earlier this year Leigh Mitchell, Founder and President of the Women in Biz Network, invited me to join her and Wendy Morelli build their 2nd annual conference. The answer was an easy yes. As president of a women’s leadership organization in the home and furnishings industries, I understand the power of a connected community. What Leigh has built over the past two years excited and inspired me – and I knew I could help grow it even more.
This past 6 months I’ve learned quite a few lessons, and as we prepare for our S.M.a.R.T. conference this week, I wanted to share some of them with you.
Connections are meaningless without you
Working with the WIBN team has solidified my belief that connection doesn’t just happen. Exchanging a business card with someone doesn’t connect you to them. Joining a networking group isn’t a secret decoder ring that grants you access to the inner sanctum. Showing up to events, listening to others and sharing yourself – those actions connect.
In 2011, I met Deb Weinstein and actively sought a relationship with her – some might even call it stalking…but we won’t go there. The end result is that when I approached Deb and asked her to be keynote for the Idea Factory in February, she knew and trusted me. Same was true when we asked Kimberley Seldon to be our keynote for S.M.a.R.T.
The WIBN is online throughout the year and events like the S.M.a.R.T. Conference allow members to interact face to face. Showing up online every day and using the network as a soundingboard is the equivalent of your own board of directors. Except this board of directors is available 24/7 and will never offer criticism without a hug.
It takes a team to build … anything
My nephew is a hockey player and when he gets on ice and scores a winning goal for his team, he shines the spotlight on his team. He’s regularly voted MVP for his team and he earns it by sacrificing time with his friends to practice his skills. I’ve never seen him gloat or use his status to diminish another person who isn’t as good as he is.
Sadly I’ve seen more than my share of adults use their power and influence to make them look better at the expense of others.
Working with Leigh and Wendy has proved once again that respect is an absolutely necessary ingredient in a winning formula. Even more important, all three of us understand that we are just the supporting players of this network – the true stars are the members. Every time a member reaches out on one of WIBN’s Twitter or Facebook channel or attends an event, she makes the network stronger, richer and a place others want to spend their time.
It’s never as easy as others make it look
Pulling together the minutia details of a conference and ensuring the happiness and fulfillment of each guest is as easy as walking on water. Imagine predicting every single worst-case possibility (with a ready-solution) and over-delivering on the expectations of 200 digitally savvy, smart business women.
People wonder why I don’t sleep very much…
My work with Leigh and Wendy and the multitude of volunteers and sponsors culminated in a 2-day conference in Toronto. The truth is that I poured my heart and soul into this event, as has Leigh and Wendy, and if it looked easy, we did something right. I promised the team that we’d fill in the cracks of day with lots of laughter and if all else fails, I’d call in the Executive Chef of the Radisson, Romel Griarte to lighten the mood. Sadly, we didn’t need to call on Romel’s services…
To comply with the long list of regulating bodies including the FTC and possibly even the Geneva Conventions and in the interest of transparency, WIBN is a client of SocialNorth. Commentary and perspectives are those of Julia Rosien, Chief Idea Officer for SocialNorth.