Is it time to build your tribe?
We’ve all heard that it’s important to surround yourself with a supportive tribe. After all, great memories are better when shared and as they say, a problem shared is a problem solved. That’s great, but what does ‘a tribe’ actually mean and how do you go about building one?
TRIBE – noun /traɪb/
According to the Cambridge dictionary a tribe is:
- a group of people, often of related families, who live together, sharing the same language, culture, and history, especially those who do not live in towns or cities
- (informal) a large family or other group that someone belongs to
Most people have a few different tribes – professional, personal and family. Each will bring something different to your life and be supportive of your goals. Don’t get us wrong, like any relationship, things won’t always be kittens and roses and good connections will challenge you but a good way to look at it is that for someone to be in your tribe, they should make your world better for them being in it.
The benefits of having a tribe are many. Talking problems and opportunities through can help you see things from a different perspective, getting introductions or recommendations can lead to unexpected solutions and when things are hard it can be helpful to know that others face similar challenges.
For some, connecting with like-minded people comes easily, for others it can be a bit harder. If this is you, here are some suggestions to get yourself out there.
Step 1 – Put yourself out there
First and foremost, you’ll need to step outside your comfort zone. We know this can be tough but the more you do it, the easier it gets and remember, many people (including others you meet) feel this way.
Step 2 – Find your tribe and start connecting
A great way to find like-minded people is to join groups that exist in your personal and professional spheres. This could be professional networking groups, local sporting teams, school or other local volunteering groups or meetups for topics that interest you.
If you’re a bit nervous about going on your own, invite a friend to come with you or contact the organisers and see if you could meet with them before the event so you’ll feel more comfortable. For larger events, see if there is an attendee list and whether you are connected to anyone through a mutual friend. If so, ask if they could intro you both before the event. If you’re attending with people you already know, make the effort to meet new people, not just talk to those you know.
Come armed with some talking points. Share what is it about that particular group that interested you. Ask other attendees what drew them to the event, if they’ve been involved for long or other similar groups they are part of.
Consider if a professional can play a role. This could be a counsellor, a coach or a mentor. Sometimes it can help to have someone completely removed from the rest of your life.
Step 3 – Just say yes
If you get an offer to attend an event or meet a new connection for a coffee, say yes! Maybe you’ll find that they aren’t really your cup of tea, maybe you’ll not stay in touch but have another friendly face at future events or maybe you’ll become lifelong friends. The point is, you won’t know unless you say yes to that first follow-up meeting.
And while you’re at it, try asking others for coffee or to an event you think they’d be interested in. Probably don’t launch into this when you first meet someone but do find ways to connect regularly, whether it’s attending the same gym class, connecting on Linkedin or asking follow up questions next time you see them if they’d mentioned a particular upcoming challenge. Sometimes asking to connect through a social channel can be less confronting than asking for a phone number.
Step 4 – Sharing is caring
Most of us feel more comfortable offering help rather than asking but often sharing our own stories can really help others and clarify any misperceptions about what your own journey has been so if people take the time to ask, don’t assume they are just being polite.
“For myself, I’ve found that people can be surprised to learn the meandering route I took to get to where I am today, both personally and professionally. They say it is reassuring to learn that I didn’t have it ‘all figured out’ from the beginning! As a Next Gen Ambassador for LASA it’s important that I’m open about sharing the ups and the downs so those who are newer to the industry can find their own paths. I used to feel that my story wasn’t of value to others but I’ve realised that this was in my head more than others.”
Finally, remember that not all connections are the same. You’ll get different things from different relationships and just like in business, diversity leads to a healthy and helpful tribe. To get the best out of all your relationships be open and honest, show appreciation when someone has helped you and celebrate successes, yours and theirs.
Remember, in any relationship someone has to take the first step so why not you? It’s never or it’s now – your choice.
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