When we think about our communities, we can see the entirety of the impact they’ve had on our businesses, careers and personal growth. Look closely enough and you’ll see the rungs of the ladder you’ve been climbing since you started out: the referrals that built your client base, the partnerships that opened your brand up to media attention, the organizations that valued your ideas, and the associations that provided leadership opportunities along the way.
The faces, brands and groups that form your community are an invaluable, unique patchwork of support that has had your back since the start. Likewise, you’ve surely dedicated your own time and energy to lifting up your community as a whole.
Recently, COVID-19 has forced us to retreat to our homes, clear our calendars of appointments, and rely on technology to stay connected to our networks. By no means is this an ideal situation, but it’s important to recognize that a feeling of community is more important now than ever before. We shouldn’t be thinking of it as “social distancing” but more as “physical distancing”; we can and should still be social members of our communities. It’s one of the only things that will get us through to recovery.
Here are a few creative ways to continue nurturing your community, even from the confines of your home.
- Provide useful resources.
In times of crisis and confusion, there’s a notable uptick in the spread of misinformation. It’s not always with malintent, but it can certainly be a method of fearmongering, and it’s up to community leaders to set the record straight. Use your social media platforms and website to communicate valuable, accurate information that has been fact-checked and comes from an authoritative source, like the CDC or local government officials. The fight against misinformation is critical, so do what you can to bust the myths floating around the internet.
- Reach out more often.
From new homeschooling duties to caretaking of sick loved ones, we’re all facing our own unique challenges outside of the virtual workplace. That’s not even considering the uncertainty for small businesses at this time. We could all use some extra positivity, so be intentional about checking in with friends and colleagues to see how they’re doing. Share uplifting stories and do what you can to bring a smile to someone’s face. There’s a good chance you’ll get one back in return--and that’s never a bad thing!
- Set up virtual coffee dates.
Just because you can’t meet up with others at the local coffee shop doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a cup of coffee (or tea!) together. Schedule a Zoom or Skype meeting with your peers and brew up some tasty coffee beforehand. Now’s the perfect time to bring out that French press and savor a coffee while catching up with your friends. Spread the invite—the more, the merrier! Bonus points go to the person with the coolest mug. This idea works just as well for post-work happy hour!
- Go live on social media.
If you aim to be a pillar of hope in your community, you need a platform where you can reach many people at once. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat all have features that allow you to record a live feed from wherever you are. Choose the platform where your community is most present and jump on for a quick update on your end or an inspirational message to push forward. You may also consider turning this into a weekly or bi-weekly “show” of sorts, where followers can chime in and ask questions while you’re live.
- Create a mastermind group.
We’re all finding some extra room in our schedule, so it’s a good time to gather a meeting of the minds within your community. Pull together a group of leaders in your community to brainstorm recovery strategies and plan for the future, understanding that it is still unpredictable to some extent. These discussions will ensure your community is ready to bounce back on the other side of this crisis, with new relationships and bonds formed in the process. Consider inviting people from across industry lines, age groups, and social status for a more diverse perspective on what lies ahead for everyone in your community.
Rest assured, we will return to the days of coffeeshop meetings, on-site tours, and in-person networking--things may be different, but we will adapt as humans always do. Until then, we must stay strong and supportive within our communities and continue being a beacon of positivity and a proponent of future-thinking and preparedness.
With 30 years of experience owning event planning, high-end catering, and design and decor companies, Meryl Snow guides businesses to get on their own path to success. As a senior consultant and sales trainer for SnowStorm Solutions, she travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design, and branding. As a member of the Wedding Industry Speakers, she speaks with groups from the heart, and covers the funny side of life and business.