Seth Godin calls them Tribes. Google+ has circles. Athletes have teams. My mom has her peeps.
Whatever you want to call it, human nature is such that we seek out communities. In primitive times it was necessary for survival. In more modern times, studies have shown time and time again that being part of a community is good for our health.
A Sense of Belonging
Before the Pittsburgh Steelers football season starts every year, most of the over 6,000 parking spaces in the Heinz Field parking lots are pre-sold to fans who wish to tailgate. Many of these fans start arriving five hours prior to the game to cook, play games, and chat. A lot of them don’t even have tickets to the game. Before kickoff, they file into local bars and restaurants to watch the on-field action.
An out-of-towner wishing to connect with other Steelers’ fans need only don some Steelers gear and walk up to any number of groups tailgating and strike up a conversation to be included with the group. The fans will readily fold you into their tribe, offering drinks, food, and camaraderie over the shared love of a favorite team.
In short, you belong.
By being a fan, you are automatically a member of the community and embraced as such.
Help when you need it
A sense of belonging is only one of the positive benefits of belonging to a group. The expansiveness of products available in our industry is mind-blowing. If something isn’t available as a stock piece, you’re certain to identify at least a handful of vendors (maybe more!) willing and able to create a custom piece from scratch off-shore.
The product offering is so vast that one person cannot possibly keep on top of it all. In my life at RIGHTSLEEVE we would have a minimum of one vendor PK session a week. Sure, the constant exposure to a wide array of products helps keep us on top of our game and fill up our knowledge banks, but unfortunately the product from one vendor can easily blend into the products from another and after a while you don’t remember them all.
But, what sticks in my mind won’t necessarily be what sticks in someone else’s mind, so I can easily tap into the knowledge of each person until I find someone who remembers the product or vendor that I’m looking for.
Now, multiply that by the entire industry.
What used to be a walk around the office has turned into a simple post on commonsku.
And, requests for help that used to go out to only a few select individuals now goes out to the entire industry. And the industry responds.
Our collective wisdom and helpfulness cascades across the industry lifting us all up in the process.
There are other benefits to group belonging and participation. Motivation, influence, learning and access to information, and less likelihood of a heart attack among them.
This is all well and good, but let’s talk about things you can do right now. I’m a fan of action items.
- Join a community. I suggest commonsku or PromoKitchen as friendly and open communities for the promotional products industry.
- Help someone else. Throw out a sourcing answer, or put two people in touch so they can assist each other.
- Contribute. Post information, questions, or even frustrations to engage your community.
For more steps on community building or involvement on commonsku, you can access our how-to presentations on our website by clicking here.
Tell me in the comments what you think the biggest step in building a community is.
commonsku helps you strengthen relationships and grow your business. We marry a social network with powerful crm and order management to connect the supply chain. You can read more information at commonsku.com or stop by to say hi on twitter, facebook, or pinterest.