Community is a word that we hear often. We have our work community, our neighborhood community, community outreach, and even the television comedy Community. Regardless of how you are thinking of the word ‘community,’ we are all members of various groups. These groups help us shape our view of belonging, purpose, and commitment to the group.
A community is made up of multiple people, families, businesses, parks, restaurants, etc. These communities rely on their members to exist, develop, and thrive. I want to offer three ways we can help our communities grow.
1) Volunteer: By volunteering your time in your immediate community, you will begin to form relationships with people who are your neighbors, have similar interests, and help the sustain community. Volunteering does not have to take a whole day, but can be an hour each month at a local food bank, after school care for children, or just helping a neighbor tend to their lawn. We can be surprised how far a helping hand and a smile can lift the spirits of a neighbor.
2) Mentor: Most business professionals have mentors. By mentoring a new graduate, a teen, or even a transitioning professional, you will be able to instill the same guidance you received in your early years in your profession or service. Mentors ask the difficult questions of their mentees. They do not complete projects for their mentees, but challenge and celebrate thoughts, concerns, and achievements. Mentors can help mentees in several ways including: sharing contacts and information; offering challenges, support, and advice; helping with setting goals; and being role models.
3) Networking: An excellent way to be involved in your business and personal community is to join a networking group. These groups can include professional resources, adventurous outings, or even a love of the arts. Many cities have business owner groups, hiking clubs, bike groups, and running clubs. However, these groups are often not well advertised because they are just friends who enjoy shared activities. So our friends at www.meetup.com have found a solution for those of us who are new professionals, new to a city, or even just starting an activity. On their website you can check out hundreds of groups for personal and professional growth. When you attend these networking groups, you can shake a hand, have a cocktail, or even hike a new trail. Most of these groups are free or low-cost.
By Volunteering, Mentoring, and Networking you can become more involved in your community. Relationships are important to your mental health and professional development. They help sustain the business community and can even help you accomplish some personal goals.
Adam R Glendye MA MFT, LAPC