If you've read any of my other articles on belonging, you'll know that the most important thing you need to create it is an INTENTION to do so. Surprisingly few spaces are facilitated with the intention of creating belonging, and without that intention, none of the following tips will work ????
But let's say you DO have the intention of creating belonging. Well then this article is for you! Especially if your goal is to create belonging in a digital space.
The most important place to start is with a commitment to building digital relationships.
We've all met those people who are convinced that a digital relationship will never be as authentic as an in-person one. And I'm not here to convince you otherwise. BUT, if you are one of those people who believe that relationship building just can't be done online, then this is where you'll want to stop reading.
If you're ever going to create belonging in a digital space, you need to BELIEVE that it's possible to FEEL belonging in a digital space.
If you're looking for a place to test out this theory, connect with me to get your invite to a No Pitch Networking Event with theYour Business Peeps Community.
Ok, so once you believe it's possible to build real relationships in the digital space, next we need to address another key point in building REAL relationships...the ability to be yourself.
Since the beginning of general usage of the internet, there has been this sheen of fakeness. It's always been easy to create an online profile that doesn't show the authentic you. And I think for a lot of us who have grown up as the internet grew up, there's something in the back of our minds that keeps saying, "it's not safe to be your 100% authentic self online".
And when it comes to the workplace, we've been even MORE stringent to not let any part of us that might be quirky or off-putting out into the digital world; because "it might make prospects uncomfortable".
And we don't want to make people uncomfortable...society taught us that.
Narratives like these are super powerful at dictating how much of US we show online.
But a REAL relationship (one that works anyways), is built on authenticity.
Built on knowing a person and either liking them or not.
If we try to be likeable to EVERYONE, creating belonging is out of the picture.
Because belonging is just for YOUR people.
It's not for everyone.
And you can't attract YOUR people if you're being generic.
I was in a conversation with a connection the other day who was sharing that if your prospects move to a different platform, then you should too. I wholeheartedly disagree.
You can't show up authentically in a place that feels uncomfortable for you. So you shouldn't just choose a platform because "your leads are there".
There are MILLIONS of users on each social media platform. So no matter which one you choose, you can find LOTS of people.
You just need to choose what feels right for you ????
For the sake of this article, let's choose your LinkedIn profile as your space.
Just like the feelings you get from entering a specific room, you can create the same type of feelings in a digital space. But again, not without intention and clarity on what you want people to feel.
Start by asking yourself, "how do I want MY people to feel?"
Notice the use of the possessive, MY.
This isn't an experience for ALL people. It's an experience for YOUR people.
For example, if you haven't already, check out the tagline on my LinkedIn profile. I use it to frame the type of experience people can expect by coming to my profile.
For people who are interested in one or more of these things, it feels like the "right" place for them to be. And for people who don't, it feels like the "wrong" place.
And that's the point.
To be the RIGHT place for the RIGHT people, you need to be the WRONG place for the WRONG people.
And let it go ????
Belonging is an experience that happens between people. So, without people, it doesn't exist. In order to create belonging for yourself and others (notice how YOU are included as well?), others have to be invited.
I like to look at this as inviting people into a club.
Anyone else here have kids that watch Numberblocks? Not only is the show great for learning math skills, but they have a great episode on creating clubs like:
At the end of the day, everyone who fits the profile can get into the club. So, if you end in a 9, you're in the 9-Enders ????
All you have to do, is have a conversation to learn if someone fits the profile and invite them into your club.
Let's look at it from a business perspective. For the sake of this article, imagine your club is all about Creating Belonging. Your goal is to fill it with people who believe in creating belonging. Let's say you meet a new peep at a networking event, or you're having a virtual chat, and through your conversation, you find a joint belief in creating belonging.
You invite them in.
Maybe they say yes, maybe they say no.
But they definitely can't say yes without an invitation ????
P.S. If you're looking for a space that's all about bringing more belonging to the workplace and the world, check out theCreating Belonging Membershipwithin the Your Business Peeps Community.
This last step is probably the most critical.
When it comes to social selling and digital marketing, often we focus on the touches and not the on-going relationships building. But belonging will never happen if we don't INVEST in an on-going relationship.
People might know right away when a connection feels right, but if you leave them blowing in the wind, that feeling will eventually fade.
Belonging is an investment two people make in each other. There's a sense of ownership in the relationship. That's MY client. My partner. My Peep. And most people don't know enough about a person after one interaction to take that ownership.
The things required for ANY investment to pay off.
Belonging IS available in the digital space. It takes intention setting, focus, personal growth, and an investment in other people.
Which is why most people DON'T bother trying to create it.
But, if you look at all the "work" that gets done (especially in marketing and sales) that actively DOESN'T create belonging...well...let's just say there's lots of space available for a digital transformation.
If you're ready to choose THAT type of digital experience for your Peeps, I'm here for it!