When I see an online article — ANY online article — with something like 738 comments, I get a little anxious. Okay, a lot anxious. (And I don’t read a single one.)
Also: I can’t bring myself to read any YouTube comments, EVER, for any reason. Holy hell the things people say!!! They’re so MEAN! (I go a little bit righteous 2-year-old when I read ‘em, lol…)
Additionally: when I see a few thousand people in a Facebook group, I’m not tempted to participate. Massive numbers make me want to break out in hives.
I propose a new way of doing community for business.
First community change: forget obligation.
So you’re off having adventures and didn’t check your e-mail today? Or yesterday? AWESOME. No need to feel guilty for not being 100% connected at all times. No need to know every person in the group. No need to remember everyone’s birthday.
No need to be anyone but who you are right now, which may or may not be a person who can make space for cultivating new relationships in your life.
Second community change: only real connections matter.
Real connections don’t have a target-number-of-business-cards-handed-out goal attached. Nor do they have a “What can you do for me!?” approach at the core of the relationship.
Real connections in business look a lot like real connections outside of business: friendship.
Whether you want to connect with a single person deeply, or with 22 people in person, or found the “Extrovert Rampage” Facebook group with 632,389 members — cool. I’m not judging extroverts, I’m just tired of playing by those rules when it comes to this sort of thing.
Third community change: let go of the “obligations” surrounding community.
So you hate Facebook groups? Quit ‘em all! Can’t stand forums? Cool! Don’t ever want to leave a blog comment again? Fantastic! You’re making the rules when it comes to interacting with your business. So do it up however you’d like.
Let’s defy convention and the ways we do “community” in business.
Here are ten ideas to get you started:
- meet in person instead of connecting exclusively online
- (and of course) meet online in addition to your offline meetings
- start a mastermind group
- found an accountability group
- ditch comments entirely and offer an alternative way to connect
- ramp up comments by asking people to comment with specific tasks or activities
- connect people you know personally via e-mail a few times a week, just for the sake of making introductions
- introduce a snail mail component to your work
- start a living room tour of your state, otherwise known as taking your show on the road
- arrange Skype or Facetime dates with potential customers instead of e-mailing ‘em
We’re wired to connect — so let’s do it. But let’s do it in a way that feels good, and sustainable, and that builds lasting bonds, okay?
Because I’m wired to connect one-on-one and intimately/privately, blog comments have become a bit of a…thing…for me. I love them. I love hearing from you, but then I feel obligated to respond to each one. And then I feel obligated to go and leave comments on other people’s blogs. The word “obligated” indicates just how I feel about all that — it’s not fun, you know? You’re never like, “YAY I’M FEELING SO OBLIGATED RIGHT NOW!!!!!”
Which means no more comments. No more high fives or go get ‘em’s — though those are, of course, nice, and I’m grateful for all of ‘em. For every single one that’s been left over the nearly five years I’ve been writing in this space.
If you want to connect with me, I’d love to hear from you personally. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and lemme know what’s up, or what’s shaking, or spill all your secrets. (Because “I’ve never told anyone this before, but…” makes me lean in. Always.)
Wanna be my pen pal? Write me a letter! P.O. Box 287, East Texas, PA 18046
I’d love to connect — but I’m ready to start defying convention to get it done. Join me?