Let’s face it, the pandemic has changed a number of things around us, including remote working, remote events, and even more time on social media. Slowly though, we are emerging from our hovels and in-person events are coming back to life. As concerts, festivals, conferences and many local events are starting to come back, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with everyone IRL (in real life).
Don’t Forget the Other 50%
If you’ve been hiding behind your screen for the past few years, this is your reminder that 50% of your job is creating/sharing, and the other 50% of your job is community. We are social creatures. Social connection is critical for our, not just survival, but our thriving. Especially for creatives. A large part of our work involves communication, idea exchange, inspiration, and sharing. But at a time when screen time dominates so much of our attention, in-person interaction is taking a real hit.
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While the internet allows us to virtually connect to those with shared interests or motivations, there is a different experience to meet people in person, see their reactions when giving and receiving feedback, share ideas, and build common interests. Community leads to opportunities, audience for your work, and potential resources you didn’t have before. There is no substitute.
- Who are some people I haven’t connected with in awhile? Maybe ask them to lunch, to a game night, or fun activity.
- What events or opportunities am I interested in?
- Are there conferences or community events in my area?
- How can I contribute or get involved? Better yet, who might I invite to come with me?
Community is key
Communities, conferences, and meetups, in whichever mode they’re held – virtual or physical – are incredibly valuable. But it’s not one or the other. You can simultaneously connect with other creators online and in-person.
As I shared in a previous episode, sharing your work with the world is an important aspect of your work as a creative. And it starts with building people connections because, nonetheless, community is king.
After REI purchased my photos to decorate its flagship store in Seattle, the managers asked me to come speak to the community they were building around the store. They knew how deeply embedded in outdoor action sports I’d already become. That was why I worked in a ski shop, to be around people who ski and snowboard all day! I wanted to be a living, breathing part of that community. I accepted the gig, and my team and I created a fun event to raise funds for the Northwest Avalanche Center to help raise awareness about avalanche danger.
Every year, I’d do a slideshow of my work, compiling the best images of all the fly fishing, climbing, skiing, and snowboarding Kate and I had done throughout the previous year. To promote each event, I’d put flyers everywhere; we filled the house on pure hustle. I’d tell stories of our adventures and then show photos while a live DJ played in the background. We got to have a ton of fun, connect in person with a couple hundred friends, and raise money for a very important cause.
The Bottom Line
The takeaway from today’s episode, therefore, is this: If you can find a way to build and connect with your community in person, do that. Get in front of people in your community however you can. Go to events, from big conferences to coffee shop meetups. If you connect with someone online in your area, invite them to meet face-to-face. Join Toastmasters International to hone your public speaking. Get involved with local entrepreneurs. Create events of your own, and help bring people together.
Attend. Talk. Ask questions and answer them. Add value. Slowly but surely, your community will take shape. Use this episode as a reminder to circle back to the people that matter in your community.
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