There are lots of things happening in the world.  Authentic community matters now more than ever. And those feelings of community is being lost in many areas.  But the need to connection, I believe, is more important than ever.

Associations and business organizations have suffered since the pandemic.  Membership numbers are down for some groups, and meeting attendance is still much lower than it was before we were locked down in 2020.  Many people are publicly touting the benefits of work from home and digital based gatherings.  But I am not sure that this lack of “belonging” that is being praised is really good for society.

All opportunities come from people.  And opportunities are giving to people we have come to know, like, and trust.  Thus, while a social media following is nice, if you are not famous, it is nearly worthless.  LinkedIn contacts mean little and the algorithm probably is not showing your posts to the people you want to see them.

So what does this mean?  It means that people who embrace building authentic community will have a huge leg up on their competition. It is clear that this trend of people not wanting to network in the traditional methods will continue for sometime. This means if you are sharing in-person experiences with other people, and are authentic in building community, you will have the advantage.  It takes years to build a network, community, and reputation.  In a few years people will see that these real human connections have value and the pendulum will swing back.

Now is the time to build authentic connections.  It takes work and will not be easy.  But if you engage, you will win.

Authentic Community Takes Intentional Effort

Build real community and friendships with people in your company, industry, can geographic communities.  If you work remotely, schedule time in the office or to attend industry events.  And go back regularly.  Meeting someone once does not make them part of your network.  Meeting someone once makes them someone you have met once.  It takes seven to ten interactions before people even remember who you are, so to build a network you must be engaged regularly.  You have to be intentional in your efforts to build authentic community, but it is worth it.

For associations, make networking a key subject for your members.  Show them how to engage.  Hire “The Conference Catalyst” to speak at your annual conference.  Have pre-event webinars that show people how to maximize events and let them connect in advance.

And in all you do, but authentic.  If you try to fake relationships or cut corners on building connections, you will not succeed.


Thom Singer is the CEO of the Austin Technology Council and an experienced keynote speaker.