It can be intimidating getting to know other people to develop authentic and meaningful friendships. We all have different personalities. For some it is really easy to be outgoing and put yourself in situations where you can make new friends. For others, this can be overwhelming and the thought of being in groups can cause significant social anxiety or stress. However, we are not meant to live life alone but rather in community. What does that even mean? Let’s not mistake community for large numbers. Community comes in many shapes and sizes. It could be a small circle of friends or a big network of multiple groups. Either way, we all need support and people to live life with. Often our opportunities are directly linked to who we are connected with. Our relationships provide support, growth and stability in our lives.
Here are 5 ways to build community around you
- Acknowledge. We are all looking for the same thing. It is easy to judge a book by its cover and assume someone has no need for friends, new community or is would never be your friend. However, the core need in every human is belonging. People want to be accepted, valued and loved. Reach out and never dismiss another based on their current situation or differing beliefs. You may be the answer to their own personal need or they could be the answer to your need.
- Cultivate Community. Nothing happens over night. Relationships need to be invested into with time and energy. Have you ever said the following, “ I went to that party or that church and no one even said hi to me”. Ask yourself if you initiated any conversation or talked to anyone around you? It is not always comfortable to enter conservation but you have to make an effort and invest into others. The quality of relationship you will have will be directly linked to how much effort you put in.
- Create Opportunities, We can all get caught in the cycle of busyness. Our days can be filled with so many to do tasks that we don’t make time for others. Be intentional about getting to know others. Make the effort, take time to attend events and gatherings. Invite someone along or activate conversations. Great community never happens on accident. It always happens on purpose. Be someone who creates opportunities not just for you to connect but others as well.
- Be Present. It is easy to engage online but when we meet up in person with others we tend to not be present in those moments. When having face-to-face encounters put down the phone, look someone in the eye and truly listen to what they are saying. Sincerity, authenticity and presence leads to meaningful relationships.
- Follow up and Follow Through. Have you ever said the phrase, “we should go for coffee.” And the months go by and you never had had coffee? Follow up and follow through with the things you say. Set appointments. Set reminders on your phone. Take good intentions and turn them into actions. Be proactive in making things happen and you will be amazed at how your world changes by the people you connect with around you.
How to apply this practically:
- Join a local Facebook group today.
- Initiate events or gatherings. Don’t wait for another to take the lead.
- Comment and engage with others online and in Facebook Groups.
- Be a source of positivity and encouragement for others. (No one likes a Debbie downer).
- Use #socality and your local hasgtag (#socalityseattle, #socalitydallas) when posting. Follow these online and find others around you.
- Get others involved. You don’t need a lot of money to hang out. Find common spaces like the beach, parks or hikes where people can easily gather. Set a time and place and go from there.