Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to share some great resources and thoughts about mental health and mindset for entrepreneurs and business owners. Specifically regarding community building and memberships since that’s how I work with clients and what I’m most passionate about.
As someone who struggles with mental health, I know the toll it takes on the physical body and mind. If you or someone you know struggles with mental health challenges, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has free resources and support.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned as a community builder is that when we don’t have a moment to think, we tend to react. Sometimes that means when things are coming at us from all angles (family challenges, financial problems, relationship issues, work dynamics, overwhelm, lack of sleep, inability to have personal time). We find ourselves trying as best we can to survive. Many of us live in this cycle all of our lives.
According to an NPR report, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, about half of U.S. adults reported experiencing measurable levels of loneliness, which can lead to a 29% increased risk of heart disease, a 32% increased risk of stroke, and a 50% increased risk of developing dementia for older adults. There has been no bigger need than today for communities to come together.
Niche communities are the future of human connection.
Before the pandemic, we were used to doing things the way they have always been done, but when our lives changed, so did our habits and, with it, how we connected with each other. We have now emerged from our homes and into our communities, but we have rejoined society differently. Stepping into a new era, one in which we think more about our well-being, time, and energy.
You’ve been part of niche communities, and so have I, for many, many years. I can list off a few right now for you:
- I joined Weight Watchers (several years ago) and still have friends to this day.
- I was a member of the National Press Photographers Association, where I met mentors whose work continues to inspire me.
- I am a member of a Playback Theatre troupe called River Crossing Playback, and we meet once a month to learn, grow, and challenge each other.
The difference now is that there are so many more options for people to choose from that it makes finding your “people” a bit more challenging. In addition, there are some (like myself) that want to have virtual communities and participate in a variety of ways, sometimes passive, sometimes active. We all need a community to support us in different phases of our lives since we no longer can benefit from what we previously had culturally (or what was available).
People want more than ever to be connected, and that was what social networking was all about back in the Myspace days — it was really about getting to know your friends and building relationships. Unfortunately, social networks have become social media. With that, our technology and way of connecting were hijacked by large companies focused on making money (which every company needs to do) but without consideration of ethics or afterthought of the consequences.
We have a golden opportunity to regain our power at this time in history and create a new system for our culture. Once that is focused on building a sustainable future for our children. We have the benefit of being able to connect to people across the world. This gives community builders an opportunity to create a culture within an ecosystem where we build a community based on what’s best for the members and the leadership.
What does this look like? It is simple. Just be clear, be kind, and be honest. But that isn’t how the world works. Nope. But in your community, you can change that; it can be a place of compassion and kindness.
Steps to Creating a mindful community strategy
When I work with clients, we not only focus on what they want in the next year but also on the next phase of life. I ask them what their ideal day looks like and how they imagine they feel, and how their members feel.
Your membership shouldn’t leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed on a daily basis. If you are creating content just for content’s sake or trying so hard to get “engagement,” but no one seems to be responding, then it’s time to revisit your community strategy.
Step 1: Find ways to simplify
If you are struggling with managing the community or you feel overwhelmed with the amount of time and energy you are spending working in your community, take a step back and identify what is working and what isn’t.
What lights you up?
What are you dreading?
Avoid the dread; stick with the things that light you up.
Step 2: Identify something you and your members like doing together
One of my clients said she enjoys spending time on calls with her members but not doing much posting or commenting. So I told her to spend time connecting with her members in the way you enjoy connecting, and they enjoy connecting with you! If that’s a video call, do that! If it’s a voice note, a text, or a message, go with it.
Step 3: Take a break; they aren’t going to notice (I promise)
Many of my clients tell me that they haven’t been very active in their own community, and what that means to them is that they haven’t posted on a regular basis. Here’s the thing, not all members will be checking into your community every day, every week, or every month. People have busy lives, kids get sick, and schedules change.
Could you ensure you are building in time in your community planning for you and your team to process your experience?
That means that you stop running launches for a month so you can assess how that last one went before you start a new one. And people like anticipation, so tell them something is coming, but don’t tell them what it is or give them all the details immediately. Take a break, and think about what you want to do next before your next big launch.
Email questions or comments to Deb@findcalmhere.com