Last week, I attended a community benefit fundraiser. I have been a part of this program and served on the steering committee for the organization for several years. The event was a huge success, and I invited 2 tables of guests to attend. Being part of the steering committee meant many photo ops, gatherings after the event, and so much networking during the luncheon.
I remember when I started my own business, I worried about finding my new community. Not only had I always worked in healthcare, but I worked for the same organization almost my entire career. Thinking about how to build a new community of colleagues, mentors, confidants, and even “work friends” seemed impossible. I feared I would be isolated and lonely, and I was terrified of that.
Yesterday, as I stood on the stage getting pictures taken, I reflected on this. Fast forward to today from being afraid of isolation, I realized nothing could be further from the truth. Just in that ballroom alone, I had colleagues, clients, friends, relatives, previous colleagues I am still connected to, and a stage full of steering committee friends, inspirational figures and resources. Not to mention handfuls of other guests who I knew and had connections to. My heart was full.
But how did I develop these communities? As thought about my journey, I realized a few truths:
It takes time and effort. These meaningful relationships did not come by themselves. Being purposeful about building relationships in various circles is key. And patience to build bonds over time is important.
Make the first move. Start a conversation with someone new. Break the ice by asking about them. And then really listen. It’s amazing to me how many real connections we can make by listening to other’s stories.
Keep the connections alive. Be that person to reach out to those you haven’t seen or talked to in a while. You might make their day, and you will rekindle that relationship.
Diversity matters. This means several things, including diversity of the individuals and cultures, and diversity in their relationship to you. The broader the backgrounds and wider the circles you can connect with, the richer your growth and experiences will be.
The more circles you have, the richer your community. This means “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Work connections are good, but branch out to professional organizations, philanthropic groups, local friends, and more. Lastly, follow the Girl Scout adage, “Make new friends but keep the old …" Keep those connections from previous companies and positions that fill your cup, help you grow, and support you.
Building a community is not easy and takes attention over time. But the rewards are endless and worth every ounce of effort.
If you are struggling to build meaningful connections and create your community, join our Women Leadership Summer Coaching Circles. This 8-week program will introduce you to likeminded leaders in a safe space to help you:
Surge your confidence
Increase your sense of belonging
Improve your clarity and purpose
To join a Coaching Circle, please visit