"The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships." - Tony Robbins
Building meaningful connections. Community managers. Your tribe.
We always hear people wanting to expand their social circles outside of their existing networks - yet, never getting around to doing so. Fear of rejection, awkwardness...
Since you all know the importance of finding the right support at whichever stage of life you are at, how do you then create opportunities for real conversations and quality interactions?
George Siosi Samuels - a community builder at Faia and podcast host - shares with us his views and actionable tips on how to do so.
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What are the key elements for a meaningful connection?
This will be subjective. What everyone finds meaningful is different from person-to-person. For me, a meaningful connection involves: physical feelings, intellectual challenges, and a shared positive experience.
Why are social connections important?
We’re social beings. The Internet has brought many great things to humanity, but also new challenges. We’re more connected than ever (digitally), but more disconnected than ever (physically). So much so that people avoid social contact all together because they’ve forgotten how to interact.
Social connections are the glue to almost everything else in life. Although we don’t always measure it directly, it contributes to trust, which can have a direct impact in the office. Have you ever found yourself getting more done at work with people you like and/or have gotten to know more? When there’s distrust, or a lack of knowledge of another, it actually blocks communication and “flow”. This then led to a decline in productivity. It’s all connected.
What are your favorite ways to create connections?
Creating safe spaces, intentional collision points, and excuses for people to connect. This could be as simple as asking ice-breaker questions, positioning objects that spark conversation in high-traffic zones within physical spaces, and bringing diverse people together you would not otherwise see in the same room.
What are some tips on how to step out of your comfort zone and create meaningful connections?
This is very personal. Plain and simply? I would just use Nike’s “Just Do It.” It really is that simple. Unfortunately, a lot of mental chatter (e.g. doubts, fears, etc.) occur that prevent people from stepping out of their comfort zones. You also have to ask yourself why? We’re emotional beings. If there isn’t any feelings or emotions attached to the desire for change, it’s just going to be a nice-to-have, not a must.
Change occurs when either (a) you’re forced to (external circumstances) or (b) you’ve just had enough of your current state of affairs, you can’t do anything but change.
The comfort zone is comfortable. It’s a great place to be, but it can also lead to complacency. And depending on what you want in your life, you’ll either push yourself out of it, or continue on as you always have. It’s simply a choice. Decide, or don’t.
Do you get vulnerable when making new connections? If so, how do men and women perceive the vulnerability?
Personally, yes, but it’s only because I’m comfortable being vulnerable. It’s taken many years of experience, and heartache, to get to that point. Once you realize that everyone is often hiding their true selves due to fear of being judged, or some other (often) irrational fear, it makes it easier to empathise. That’s how I connect quickly people - I offer my trust and vulnerability upfront, which invites them to do the same (typically). You move through small talk very quickly this way, and get to the heart of what really matters.
NOTE: Not everyone is open to this. You also need to be very aware of where people are at in their life’s journey. Some prefer to keep private, and that’s perfectly okay. They’re in their right to.
How do you hack your way around social events / networking situations?
I do two things: (1) focus on the influencers; and (2) leverage team networking.
For point (1), focusing on the influencers ensures you get more bang for buck. Instead of trying to network with everyone, by connecting with the connectors, they can open up more doors post-event. This is typically why I’ll pay more for VIP tickets at events I’m really keen on attending. The VIPs typically have those connections.
For point (2), team networking involves getting contacts and sharing it with a team (e.g. using a Messenger app) throughout the night. Instead of just doing 1:1, you leverage the contacts with your “team". It can be very effective.
What are some real life activities you have done with your communities to help create meaningful connections among individuals?
There are so many activities, but I find the ones that involve offline, face-to-face connections are the most productive (long-term). The most memorable one I did was Tough Mudder. I have a private mastermind I’ve been running over the past 3-4 years called The Pack, and so one year, we attended Tough Mudder together as a “pack.” The group’s values were really put on display. One of our members joined us, even after being on a fasting marathon herself. About half way through, she wanted to tap out (understandably) but, because we believe in “all for one, one for all”, all of us took turns carrying her on our shoulders for the remainder of the course. Covered in mud, exhausted as hell, we left no person behind. It summed up everything that we’re about in life.
What are some things that are part of your practice when building a healthy relationship with self?
Journalling, reading, affirmations, exercise, and strategic games.
What are 3 things that are part of your practice when building healthy relationships with others?
- Believe in their inherent good
- Be positive, but truthful
- Be curious
How are the above tips you mentioned applicable to building meaningful connections with brands, customers and broader communities?
Be human. In a professional world where everything became about surface appearances, and moving to digital, there’s a trend now reverting back to the opposite end of the spectrum. People in developed countries are seeking to “escape the grind” or “get offline”. Why? Because you realise there’s more to life than just working, paying bills, and repeat.
The ironic thing about helping others “build community”, is that it was once a normal thing. Nobody did community. It just was. It was a result of being kind to your neighbours, looking out for one another, and taking pride in the neighborhood (not just your own home). It really is that simple.
We just now need to apply those same principles back into the business world. For brands, imagine if your brand was a character. Define them. Who would they be. Who would they interact with other members of the community? How would they help? How would they hinder? The best brands know this intimately, and so attract strong “communities” around them naturally. They “give” through their products or services, and so customers respond. And if they go beyond (through say smart marketing campaigns that tap into the social good), they get even more in return. Communities will always matter. They just matter more now because we went too far the other way.
How do you build healthy relationships with yourself and others? You can create meaningful connections over healthy activities with like-minded individuals on BrocnBells.com.
Questions? Email: [email protected].