If we learned one thing over the past few years, it is that community has always been a cornerstone in our development and well-being. And thankfully, tools like social media, Zoom meetings, networking events, and online groups and forums have made it easier than ever to join a community regardless of your physical location.
As an entrepreneur, leader, or professional, fostering community is one of the best things you can do for your career. It presents an opportunity to show up as your most authentic self while connecting with others through common professional interests.
Building a support network filled with talented individuals is a powerful way to feel inspired and motivated to keep moving in the right direction while learning from each other. When you think of how community has served you personally, it often represents support, a sense of belonging, and encouragement. As you shift towards a professional community, the benefits only multiply — referred business, partnership opportunities, and fresh new ideas coming from masterminds or simple coffee chats, to name a few.
Why Is Your Network So Important?
Being part of a community offers you a sense of belonging and helps you identify growth opportunities. We often find ourselves connected over shared experiences or interests. And if chosen wisely, communities offer a way to expand our lives through learning, influence, and acceptance.
In addition, online communities hold us accountable for our daily goals, especially when working remotely or alone. Some common reasons for joining a professional community include building on a personal brand, professional development, seeking a support network, and expanding your professional and business opportunities.
In today’s world, you need a curated personal brand — whether building your empire or applying for jobs. A personal brand is how you present yourself to the world, express your values and beliefs, and influence how people perceive you.
Joining a community presents the opportunity to offer expertise while building your personal brand and developing your brand message, which is how you communicate your uniqueness and why someone should work with you over competitors.
Joining a community is one of the best ways to engage with like-minded people who often inspire and push us to elevate our careers and development. By surrounding yourself with professionals in your industry or niche, you may feel inspired by new ideas, keep tabs on recent trends, offer direction for your business or career, and be encouraged to learn new skills.
Access to a network of peers who can lend a shoulder or offer a fresh perspective is a valuable resource in your professional toolkit. Many entrepreneurs or freelance workers find online communities helpful for accountability. Support networks are also a great place to brainstorm, work through obstacles, lament business or career challenges, or find new or more accessible ways to perform tasks.
Now more than ever, small-to-medium organizations have a greater need for support. Communities are essential for building connections and relationships for referrals, partnerships, and introductions to expand on opportunities and offer a way to share your niche, industry, or business. By sharing your knowledge and insights, you can differentiate yourself from competitors and show potential customers that you are an expert, which can help to build relationships with customers and create a more personal connection with your brand.
Four Ways To Expand Your Professional Community
As a professional, you have unique skills and abilities that are valuable. Those skills are often needed in building professional communities through volunteering, inspiring others in a learning setting, serving on boards, or providing perspective. Here are four ways to try if you’re hoping to expand your network.
Volunteering your time, mentoring, or joining a nonprofit board will help you expand your professional community while using your expertise to inspire and help others succeed.
To try this avenue, choose events or causes within your industry that you are passionate about. These opportunities can help you boost your resume while providing networking opportunities.
Learning new skills is essential as you develop your career or organization. It’s also an opportunity to grow your network and community. Starting a new course or attending a workshop or conference can open new doors and provide new opportunities to build valuable relationships if you enter the room with a positive, confident outlook and aren’t afraid to put yourself out there.
Professional Organizations or Groups
Most professionals use LinkedIn as a go-to resource for building their professional networks, but there are other resources. For one, you may mingle with your professional acquaintances at work happy hours or other events. Or you can take a more intentional approach and join a professional group, which can be the perfect place to brainstorm innovative ideas or vent about a tough day or situation.
Leaning into your network is great for business because it can lead to new opportunities and bring awareness to your brand. Whatever the road you choose, always remember that how you present yourself will leave a lasting impression, so always come to your interactions from a genuine place and provide real value by actively participating.
An incredible and often overlooked resource for expanding your professional network is Alumni Associations. Attending networking events through Alumni Associations is a great way to build connections. Since you already have a common interest in your alma mater, connecting or breaking the ice is more effortless.
Building a Community Helps Cement Your Leadership & Expertise
Having a community of trusted peers is like having a professional family that’ll always root for you and help steer you in the right direction. Whatever ways in which you find professional community connections, you should feel inspired, supported, and empowered to grow.
Book a discovery call today to learn more about how you can foster a community and show up as your authentic self to garner the power and support of your network.