Mar 26, 2019

Stronger Together: The Power of Community

Written by Caroline Hollick-Ward

I was reading an interesting article in Psychologies Magazine recently, titled ‘Create your own happy tribe’, which got me thinking about our membership community and everything that comes with it.

The piece I read examined how meaningful connection with peers brings opportunities to share ideas, activities, and triumphs, and how this can have a transforming effect on our lives. The message stood out to me as particularly significant – and it really resonated, because ultimately this is what we are doing within our own professional membership.

Belonging to a community can have a profoundly positive effect on us, both personally and professionally, and in both emotional and more practical ways. It’s well established that connections and a sense of belonging create a good state of mind, bringing greater overall happiness and a support network which can positively impact our professional (and personal) growth and success.

This is not a frivolous notion – it’s backed by heavyweight research. The Harvard Study of Adult Development, a major long-term project conducted over decades, proved that embracing community and nurturing strong relationships helps people live longer, happier lives. Of course, we also know that professional success often goes hand-in-hand with happiness and contentment. Being part of a strong and active community provides great encouragement in that regard.  

Joining the Tribe

Mark Nepo, modern-day philosopher and author of More Together Than Alone, and Seth Godin, renowned entrepreneur and author of Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, have both explored the concept of community. Nepo’s research draws on natural and historical events to demonstrate that our human nature guides us in our tendency to join together, connect, and accomplish great things. “Community is that authentic ground of relationship by which we discover that we’re more together than alone,” according to Nepo.

Godin explains how the power of the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time, helping existing tribes to grow and enabling many new tribes to be born. Ideas, causes, and trends can spread rapidly around the world thanks to the digital revolution.

However, the technology cannot provide leadership, Godin maintains. That must still come from individuals, people who have passion for something, and the Internet now means that those who seek to make a difference have the tools available to them.

In the case of digital marketing, that passion can be channelled in several different ways – a passion to grow a business or spread a brand’s message, a passion to engage meaningfully with customers, or a passion to develop greater skills, knowledge, and expertise.

““A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”” Seth Godin, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

Forging Deeper Connections

One core theme of that intriguing Psychologies Magazine article was the idea of creating substantial, meaningful connections which we can access through a real community of like-minded individuals. This can open the door to new opportunities for learning, business networking, and greater professional fulfilment.

Community can offer four key things – support, listening, questioning, and stories based on experience. These are immensely valuable to all of us. However, while we may feel that our social media interactions connect us to a tribe, this may be little more than an illusion of being connected.

Social media clearly provides amazing marketing opportunities, and access to a vast range of content, but excessive consumption and time investment can also lead to a missed opportunity to connect, and create deeper, more meaningful interactions and relationships. For example, studies have shown that even those with thousands of Facebook friends still only enjoy a close, deep bond with a handful of people.

Consider the ephemeral nature of content on some of the major social channels now – yes, it is often interesting and entertaining, but it’s gone within a day! While that has its place for sure, we have an innate desire for more substance and meaning when it comes to our interactions and relationships. Deep down, we all want to feel that we’re part of something solid with a degree of reliability and permanence.

Of course, this is available to some extent through social networks, with LinkedIn groups providing industry updates and access to peers for example. However, the connection here is rather limited and transient. Truly being part of a professional community can provide so much more in terms of development, ultimately supporting your growth and facilitating person-to-person interactions and knowledge sharing. A professional community can provide advice and best practice guidance, as well as helpful hints and tips for completing key tasks.

While it’s often seen as a negative these days to follow the crowd, or adopt the ‘conventional wisdom’, having access to the wisdom of the crowd can actually be very worthwhile, where there is industry expertise within that cohort. Professional communities bring together a network of individual members from different organizations, career stages and locations around the world, but all with one main thing in common – in this case, a passion for digital marketing and sales.

The community can provide an effective channel to discuss high-priority topics and issues surrounding the profession, and get advice and guidance from peers who have knowledge, skills, and experience. 

Tapping into a strong professional community can also go a long way to removing or alleviating the professional isolation that many may experience. If you work alone (an increasingly common trend in the digital sector) or within a small team, there can be great support and strength in knowing you are connected to something bigger, bringing wider access to knowledge, new innovations, practices or technology. This dialogue can provide access to new perspectives and insights from the industry at large.

Bringing This to Life with Membership

With all this in mind, we see the community aspect as absolutely central to our Membership offering at the Digital Marketing Institute, along with the other pillars of a high-quality content library and continuous professional development (CPD). We’re putting time, thought, and effort into creating a positively orientated online community of digital marketing professionals, a community where peers support peers. We plan to expand and develop this a lot more over the coming months and years.

Our series of live webinars provides a virtual environment where members have the opportunity to engage with (and pose questions to) our subject matter experts on various key topics. The introduction of discussion forums on the platform will soon allow members to exchange insights and opinions on important topics, as well as industry developments and trends.

We feel that, by opening up this facility for dialogue and shared global expertise among members, the platform will come to life in a whole new way. Real connections can be built through this, giving a major sense of togetherness and common purpose, as well as enhanced expertise through a shared knowledge base.

Networking sessions for members, which we plan to start hosting later this year, will provide a great opportunity to meet and exchange professional views with peers. We’ll bring you further information on this soon. Connecting at these events will add another crucial layer to our burgeoning community.

All in all, being part of a vibrant professional community can bring immense value, helping you to rise to the challenges ahead and thrive in your career. There is great strength within the tribe! In the words of American author and activist Helen Keller:

““Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.””

Caroline Hollick-Ward
Caroline Hollick-Ward

Caroline was the Membership Manager with the Digital Marketing Institute until 2023. Caroline has worked in membership and event management for over a decade, and is dedicated to growing and developing the features, benefits and service offerings through a global membership community. Prior to this, Caroline has worked in both education and recruitment sectors.

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