First things first, it took a change in mindset for me to value my community for what it is.
I grew up believing that you had to earn you way. No relationships or connections would bring you as far as you could bring yourself with hard work and skills. Teacher’s pets were cheating. They were, ‘sucking up.’
I still believe that hard work and skills are essential, but now, I’ve realized that not every connection is a form of ‘cheating.’ It’s not cheating to seek advice from local business owners. It’s not cheating to make a connection with someone and realize that the two of you would work really well together, and so you do.
It’s not cheating to show up and be an active community member.
In fact, if you do try to fake your way through relationships, chances are it won’t work out anyways. The disingenuous type gets weeded out. Or they stop showing because ultimately, they don’t care.
Those that do show up, though — they’re great.
Community has added so much value to my life. Here’s how:
Gosh, it feels good to walk into a coffee shop and know the owner — to order your coffee and see the face that works behind the scenes, every day. Yes, you’re supporting them and their livelihood, and feeding their families, but you’re feeding your soul.
There’s something about human connection that fills your cup, so that, at the end of the day, after you’ve run your errands and officially shopped local, you feel good. You feel valued. You feel embraced, all because you deliberately chose to support someone.
Shopping local feeds your soul.
Sure, knowing more people could potentially mean that while you’re out on a cereal run in your pajamas, you stumble into someone you know. But, it also means that you now have a story to tell, a funny, coincidental connection with that person you were so incredibly embarrassed to see.
I don’t know about you, but I love the small-town, small-world feeling I get when I run into people I know. My husband and I have had a long-time, almost competition, of who knows more people. When we were in college, and mind you, my husband is not even from this country (hallo Germany!), he knew more people than I did!
After we moved, and my new job required a community presence, suddenly he lost his lead, and I was the one who was running into people all throughout town. And my goodness, I’ve loved it. I like knowing names, seeing familiar smiles, and having a place where I feel at home. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve lived in plenty of places where I hardly knew a soul, and it feels much better knowing your community.
(Not sure how to get out there and meet new people? Check Facebook for local events, go to chamber of commerce networking meetings, or bring your dog to the dog park and talk to people.)
They’re the nicest, sweetest people in the world. They’re the type that are generous with their time, who show up to networking and community events and ask about your kids, or your last vacation. They surprise you with thoughtful, sweet-smelling gifts (candles and bath bombs for example), and are there when you just need to text a friend.
These are the type of people, and friends, I have met in my community. By showing up. And wow, I have better friends than I’ve had in a long time. (Shout out to my WIB tribe friends like Heidi Flitton or my old work pal, Shila Garcia.)
Okay, okay. You get it. Community makes a difference. It makes your life feel more full. But what about your business? Let’s get down to the bottom line. How does it help?
You’ve probably tried asking your Facebook “friends” to share your event or like your business page. But it only takes you so far. You have to actually know people to get a response out of them. It’s those generous, caring friends you make in your community that will actually help you reach more potential clients. Just make sure to be straightforward and honest, and don’t bombard your friends with requests. Be genuine and thoughtful. How can you help each other?
Have you ever tried to collaborate with someone on social media who you’ve never met? Well, it’s a heck of a lot easier to collaborate with someone you know! Plus, if they’re local, chances are you’ll reach more of the people in your community. It’s also a lot simpler to be able to meet in person and plan out a collaboration.
Have you ever tried engaging on social media platforms, such as Instagram? Maybe you’re commenting on posts, tagging other accounts, and trying to be present and engaged on the platform. It is so much more fun and genuine when you can do shout-outs and engage with platforms from people who you actually know! And that in-person connection will make them more likely to engage right back. It’s a win-win.
By showing up to community events, shopping local, and being present in my relationships, my life and my business have been more successful. How do you shop local? Share below! I’m also game to hear some funny, in my pajamas, ran into so-and-so stories.