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How to Build a Quality Network: A List of Life-Changing Communities

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn.

Today’s post is inspired by one of our readers, Stephanie C. in North Carolina. Stephanie is possibly moving and exploring work in another city, and she asked me:

How can I see what professional relationships are like in a different city? And how do I find my community, especially since I’m not finding it where I currently live?

Finding your community is a game changer for almost any challenge you’re facing: love, work, health, etc.

Where networking is about making connections and leveraging those connections to get a job, get information, or build a partnership, finding your community is about belonging to a community of people who understand you, support you, provide resources for growth, and make you feel like you’re not going at it alone.

Although it’s not easy to find your community, whether in a personal or professional setting, it is definitely possible, no matter where you live. Below are four steps to finding your community.

Be Clear about You

What Do You Value?

Before you start reaching out to people, scheduling calls and attending events, take some time to get clear about you. What are your values? What’s most important to you?

Different communities have different values, and as you survey for your community, you can let your values guide you. Think back to profound and memorable experiences that you’ve had.

What stands out about these events? Were you taking risks? Were you connecting with others? Write out your experiences, what you were doing and feeling, and see if you can connect the dots.

What Do You Care About?

I’m not talking about identifying your “passion.” That’s a loaded question. Simply make a list of the blogs and books you gravitate to. Are there podcasts you can’t wait to download?

We leverage our interests to connect with people and find others with similar work and hobbies. This step will also show up later, so just take note.

What’s Your Problem?

We all get stuck somewhere and making a transition can definitely bring on new challenges. Be clear about your need.

For example, when I was launching this website and working on my first company, I had a multitude of challenges: needing access to affordable legal advice, understanding how to overcome different tech hurdles, and finding emotional support to survive the entrepreneurial path. The list goes on.

Often times, we know something is bugging us, thwarting us, but we don’t take time to sit down and articulate it.

Be clear on your problem so you can find the right community to help you solve it. This way, you’ll also know how to best leverage that community.

Start the Conversations

Now that you’re clear on you, you can start to “network.” Networking becomes easier because you know what you’re looking for.

Here’s a quick guide:

Go back to your interests. Are there any events/meetups in your area around those topics? Do a quick google search or check out eventbrite.

For my shy ladies and gents, are you dreading that meetup with 50 people? If you’re better one on one, you can still be just as effective at building relationships. Reach out to the owner of the meetup group, and get to know him or her. A one on one call might make the event less intimidating.

However, like in Stephanie’s case, there may not be many cool events in the area. If events are lacking, or you strongly prefer more intimate conversations, try the following:

Go to your LinkedIn homepage. What’s on your news feed? Are there any articles that pique your interest?

Professionals who are immersed in their work often leverage LinkedIn to write about what they’re doing or researching. Don’t be shy about reaching out to the writer if his or her work speaks to you.

I received this email a few months ago, and a few months later, the writer of this email joined the entrepreneurial community to which I belong even though she lives in Los Angeles.

You can take a similar approach with podcasts you listen to or search Twitter for people tweeting about topics that resonate with you. Don’t let location hold you back.

The key is to look for the opportunity, for those who are writing or talking about your interests. Reach out and make a genuine connection. – Tweet It!

Some Amazing Communities for You to Explore Further

Take your outreach to the next level by joining already-established, mission driven groups that offer both one-on-one support and group events.

  • Obviously, Work Bigger. If you want to do work you love that makes a difference in the world without burning out, this community is for you. We offer group coaching, career resources and a community to make your career journey fun, exciting, empowering. You can apply here to join.
  • Dreamers and Doers is a membership community of trailblazing women. I’m a founding member of this group. They have my back when I’m having the worst day, and I’m so lucky to have found them. Check out their Jobs & Gigs Facebook page if you’re looking for new job opportunities. They offer much more than this, but the jobs page is a great place to get started.
  • The Upside: If you’re an independent consultant who needs support with growing your business, I highly recommend joining this community. The founder, Erin Halper, was an independent consultant herself for years before she launched The Upside. She knows the struggles with finding clients and pitching yourself and she’s created a platform that offers support in all of these areas.
  • NationSwell Council: This is a membership community of service-minded leaders. I’m a member, and love the diversity of this community. If you’re in the social impact space, check them out. They’re working to solve some of the biggest problems in the world – from climate change to poverty to racism.
  • The Coaching Fellowship is an incredible community of nonprofit leaders, impact entrepreneurs, activists, rocket scientists, artists and more. They offer executive coaching at a highly discounted price, and an opportunity to connect with mission-driven women.
  • Women Catalysts is “for those of you who want to get ahead without losing your heart.” They offer coaching through workshops and events, and have a highly engaged community both online and offline. This is especially great if you’re based in the west coast.
  • She+Geeks Out is for women in tech who are looking for support in developing their careers. I’ve attended their workshops on diversity and inclusion, which I loved and also interviewed one of the founders – Felicia Jadzek – on imposter syndrome. Check out the interview here.
  • thecnnekt is all about her, him, them. They host online and offline events to promote diversity, community and safe spaces. You can learn more about them here.
  • The Joy List: This community is all about connection and bringing people together. You can sign up for the newsletter to get a weekly dose of inspiration, and if you’re in NYC you can attend an event IRL.

You can also tap into communities by joining a co-working space, taking a course or volunteering.

A few deep connections can make a big difference in helping you create a strong network. These valuable, two-way relationships can provide you with the support you need to navigate the highs and lows of work and life.

Now I’d love to hear from you! What steps have you taken to find your community? What’s worked for you, and where are you still stuck? Share in the comments below. And as always, if you like this post, make sure to subscribe and share.

Belma McCaffrey

Author Belma McCaffrey

More posts by Belma McCaffrey

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Saya Hillman says:

    Great article! Stumbled upon it cause I’m one of the Good Life Project workshop leaders this summer and someone in the GLP tribe posted it.

    My favorite topic and why I do what I do!

    When I graduated from school in Boston and moved back to Chicago, I realized I had to start all over again. With relationships, challenging myself, self-love, personal and professional development. And that it was a lot harder to do so in adulthood than I thought it’d be.

    So I selfishly started throwing events I’d want to go to (think opposite of any horrible networking event you’ve been to), and it turns out, a lot of people would rather flip flops and jeans, couches, and friendly just for the sake of being friendly people, than suits, standing awkwardly at small tables, and people throwing business cards in your face.

    Hence the birth of Mac & Cheese Productions℠ twelve years ago.

    What you mention hits upon so many of the issues my Cheese Its are grappling with, so happy to share this with them. Thank you!

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Hi Saya! Thanks so much for your comment and so happy to hear you found this on GLP! Love what you’re doing with your business, and that you started to “selfishly” throw events that were more suited for you. That’s awesome! I’ve always found “networking” really uncomfortable too and finding your tribe is a MUCH better way to make connections. Also, it’s just way more authentic. Thanks again for writing 🙂

  • Saya Hillman says:

    Amen, sister!
    I’ve learned being selfish can actually be a good thing, for you and those around you.

    Best of luck to you.

  • I really like the idea of being clear about who you are. Knowing what someone values and what they car about is a huge part of getting to know them, not to mention getting along with them. Overall, these were some really great ideas on how to start networking to find that job you’re looking for. Thanks for sharing!

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Hi Tobias! Thanks so much for your comment, and I’m glad to hear this resonates with you. I agree that networking and connecting with others is so much easier and more authentic when we know what we want and who we are. 🙂 Really appreciate your insights!

  • I really enjoy interacting with people/companies on Instagram and YouTube who I share the same interests and values with and who I can learn and grow from. I love engaging with them by leaving thoughtful comments and feedback under their posts and videos, and it’s so fun when they reply and we can become friendly and connect with our thoughts and experiences. Engaging with those I admire and find common ground with on social media is one of my favorite ways to find my tribe.

    • Belma McCaffrey says:

      Social media is a great way to interact and build relationships, Jana! Thank you for sharing this. Great insights and tips here 🙂

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