When I was finalizing the Community Business Summit schedule, website and materials last week, I was overwhelmed. Rachel, our operations manager, had been on a well-deserved vacation with her family which meant my usual sounding board wasn’t around to help get everything ready.
I had big ideas for the summit and how it would work and a date to announce it, but how to communicate it didn’t feel super clear. So I decided to take my own advice and ask the community for help. I shared a Google doc with my thoughts with the BACB community and asked for comments to shape the direction of the summit.
I expected a few encouraging comments and maybe some grammar corrections. What I actually got was a bunch of foundational questions on what the summit was, a reframing of the whole event and even pushback on the purpose of what we are even doing as a business. Sounds discouraging, but it was great!
The result is that:
- The direction of the summit is so much clearer and I feel much more confident inviting people in to what we’re putting together.
- The summit is now not just my thing, it feels more like an event the community is putting on.
- Community members who gave feedback shared that they were happy to help and participate. It made them feel more invested to be able to contribute.
We often think twice before asking our communities for help. It feels like we should be the ones helping, especially if members are paying to be there. This approach is worth questioning.
First, community builders are used to being helpers. We can often put our needs last, in favor of the needs of others. Practicing asking for help is a way to heal that part of us that feels like we have to provide constant value in order to be valuable.
Secondly, showing up imperfectly is the biggest gift you can give to your members. It gives them permission to also show up as their full selves. Imperfection is what makes connection possible in the first place.
And lastly, communities are more fun when they feel less like a fancy 5-course meal and more like a potluck. Everyone has something to contribute and things feel more human when even the community leader is a contributor.
The summit is a lot better now because I asked for help.
I wonder if there’s anything in your community that would be better if you allow members to help with it?
A potluck is one of our inspirations for the summit. It is super important to us that the event isn’t just an experience you’re passively watching, but a gathering that you have the opportunity to contribute to and shape. If you haven’t signed up yet, I hope you’ll join us for one event or all 3 days!
Already RSVP’d? In the spirit of this post, if it feels good to you, we’d love your help to get more thoughtful community builders to join us.