Tuesday, September 16, 2008 11:15 PM
This post is part of a series called Ignite Your Life. For background info on the series, please refer to previous posts on introducing the series and The 5 R's (where you can find links to the other posts in this series).
Ok, so we’ve established that we need relationships. But how do we go about fostering them…creating them even? For some of us making connections with people isn’t a big deal, but for many the idea of meeting people, interacting with people, and just making small talk is scary…foreign…bizarre.
The key is discovering and finding your tribe. A tribe is not simply a group of people…its a group of people that share common interests and experiences while showing genuine interest and care for the members of the tribe. Tribe members are as quick to return an email response to a technical question as they are to sending one checking in after hearing you’re under the weather. It’s not just about having the most friends on Facebook, or the longest MSN list. It’s about quality relationships in orchestration.
Note also that I didn’t say you have to create your tribe, but that you have to discover or find it. It exists. It’s out there. There is a community of people that are waiting for you to join them…you just have to take the appropriate steps to make the tribe visible and obvious. So what can you do to aid in finding your tribe?
Get In Touch
The first step in any relationship is saying “hello”. In our world of online social networks, blogs, and instant messaging, there’s no excuse for us not to reach out and try and connect with someone. Services like Twitter and Facebook are excellent ways to find people who share the same interests and areas of knowledge that you have.
Reading blogs and leaving comments are another great way to connect. I emphasize leaving comments because some great conversations with people I’ve had started with either them commenting on my blog or me on theirs. Comments are a way to connect.
Get Out And In Person
Although making connections via online tools and communities are great, nothing can beat having face-to-face interactions with people. So how do you make those happen? Luckily there are many opportunities. In the technical realm, user groups have been a great way to bring people with shared skills and interests. In Winnipeg alone, we have a .NET user group, an IT Pro user group, a PC user group, etc. Realize that I’m not suggesting that these groups are your “tribe”. Rather, these are places where you can *find* your tribe....to connect with those that will become your tribesmen and tribeswomen.
And what if there isn't a venue for your area of expertise or interest? Start a community! Start your own user group or similar organization and create your own environment to build your tribe from.
For those that aren't in the technical realm, this idea of community still works...I'm actually surprised that there isn't more of this type of community being fostered. Maybe the IT world is just different in that although there's competition between technology companies, the employees of those companies (and the companies themselves in some cases) see the benefit in fostering relationships with each other.
Understand Your Role
Your tribe is your clan...your network...your family. And as a member, you have responsibilities as well. This isn't something you become part of just to serve yourself. You need to give back, to offer support, and to provide value back to the group as they support you. Know that your role is more than attendee or passive member within a tribe...its as active member.
So now that we've covered some ways to connect with your tribe, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start planning how you'll start searching for your tribe: what upcoming community events are happening, what are some prominent blogs for your key interest/knowledge area, and will you take up the mantle and create opportunities for community to foster if there aren't any available?
Find your tribe. Of course, creating relationships and finding your tribe means that you'll need to deal with people. That's how we'll conclude this area of the Ignite Your Life series: a discussion on learning to deal with people.