Travelling around the region lately, I’ve been attending interagency meetings telling them about what I do now! Now meaning, I’ve been to the meetings for years as an agency employee and now I run my own business. Over the years, I’ve got to know each group of agencies, the individual members, the way they work, the culture of the group, how they run meetings, what kind of information to share and how to build partnership, collaborations and most importantly one-to-one relationships.
I’ve been honored to be a part of these groups and I am reminded now how valuable they are. Wherever you are, whatever you do, there are always groups of people in your community who get together to share information in some way or another. Join these groups. Attend regularly. And if there aren’t active groups, I encourage you to create them. These connections are vital to the work we do.
There is only one way to survive in this world, in your own personal world and the world of business and community agencies and that is by doing things together. You are not the be all and end all. You can’t do everything on your own and by yourself. At least not in the way you could if you worked with others.
Working with others does not always mean partnering with them and formally developing working relationships. It might simply mean having a conversation that sparks creativity. I watched yesterday as one agency brought forward a desire to have youth more involved in the community. She asked for ideas and suggestions and as the members started to talk you could feel the energy in the room rising. People became engaged, even excited about possibilities. Stories came out about other successful ventures and the impact it’s had not only on the youth but also the community at large. This member walked away with ideas and possible partnerships for her venture.
As a leader it is up to you to set the tone in your organization to show the importance of these connections. Attend the meetings yourself. Take on a leadership role at the meetings to validate their importance and ensure they sustain the impact of the business in the world. Encourage your employees to participate. This is part of your mentoring role as a leader. Show them the value in the meetings. Talk about what they learned, how they participated and what value your agency and the community received from their attendance.
The other benefit you might find is that you find a friend. Someone who you can talk to who might also be in a similar position as you. Someone who you can share a bit of your challenges and successes with too. I have some pretty special friendships that were developed from community interagency groups that have withstood the test of time. These friendships not only allowed us to complain to each other about proposal processes, the red tape we had to jump through and recruitment woes, but also our families, our dreams and our visions for life.
Take the time to connect regularly with others and ensure your organization does as well. These connections that allow for both informal relationships and formal partnerships to blossom and grow to provide you and your organization with a strong foundation to do your work in a way that will have the biggest impact on your community.
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