– How to build community FAST when starting out in a new location–
Connecting into a community fast is vital for life on the move. I’m not a tourist – I honestly need to feel connected in and to be part of a community, even if only for a few months. When I move into a new phase/ base or land in a new city for the next segment of life – I am always finding ways to build community FAST. I often move to places where I don’t know a single soul. The flip side of that is also building community with the right people – so that folk become part of my bigger, ongoing global community of clients AND friendship circle. Just this week I chatted to a great friend I’d met in California over 7 years ago! From my years of connecting in this way, I have friends and connections in Spain, Greece, Romania, Dubai, South Africa, Australia, New York, San Fransisco, Amsterdam, and more. A truly global village.
So it’s not just about immediacy, but also about sustainability and longer-term community.
Here is how I do it…
One of the things I do is join the local FB group of the location in which I’m going to be based. The smallest geographical one possible. So when basing myself in Edinburgh, it was about finding the local WEST END group. A smaller community to connect into. I do this about a month before I move in, or as soon as I know where I’m going to be based. You have to find ways to connect, get known, and be recognised as a “Local.” I start commenting, asking genuine questions, and also try to be helpful and supportive where I authentically can. Just yesterday I saw someone missing a kitty – so I keep my eyes open and check back in to see if they have come home. It’s not rocket science, right – it just takes heart and a bit of time /energy to give a damn.
I’m always looking for ways to connect and contribute.
Just a week ago, the very week I moved into my city pad, there was a community meetup. Of course, I made it a priority to go along to finally meet some of the faces I’d connected with online. Simple – yet most people don’t bother and exist in their own little silos.
I’ve booked more coffee meet-ups, recommended newly-released books about Edinburgh to a fellow reader (and heard back how much they are enjoying the said book), offered to dog walk for someone who needed a hand and posted in the group about meeting the local cat adored by everyone. Dear Hugo, the vocal Arabic Mau (see pics below).
I wanted to log onto the local NHS system and within ten minutes of posting a question, I had five answers to help me find my way. Bingo.
I was even offered a bicycle, been invited to see a new yoga studio and the local coffee shop already has my loyalty card on the till (and I shared some fresh Origanum I brought back from Greece this year when running my writing retreat when I learned they LOVE Greece too).
Can you connect in just a little better where you live?
That’s ONE WEEK – connecting in gets a big TICK!
2. EXERCISE BONUS
I regularly walk, practice yoga, and started salsa dancing again (after a couple of years hiatus – a whole different story) as my way of staying healthy, fit, fun and it’s social. When I go walking I’m always on the lookout for friendly faces I’ve seen before, and am quick to strike up conversations. Yep, I’m that weird neighbour that smiles, waves and chats! Since the community meet-up, I’ve spotted a couple of familiar faces while walking. Oh, and my hair is often a talking point – go figure!
People matter – I just keep on being my usual friendly/connector self – and while walking will stop for a cuddle with a dog or cat wherever possible. I walk with my eyes open, and will always be on the lookout for someone who needs potential help. Be kind where possible, is my motto.
Mmmm – more about the salsa next time!
3. PASSION and EXPERTISE
My quickest advice to build a work-related community is to simply START something in your area of expertise. Offer your time, heart, and energy. One winter I stayed in Malaga, Spain for 4 months, without knowing a single soul, or the language. I joined a few of the groups and started a WRITING group as I was busy penning my 5th Book – the one about living #LocationFree. Every week I would be writing anyway, as my winter goal was to complete the book, and I invited others to come and write with me. In just 11 such sessions I finished the outline and first draft of that book! It is now changing lives for folk over 45 who also want to think about living life in a larger, simpler, more passionate way.
“10 Lessons for Living #LocationFree – an Insider’s Guide to Living and Working Anywhere and Everywhere” is available here
I have done exactly the same here in Edinburgh – the week I arrived from Greece I started up a free writing community,. It’s not in competition with anyone as it’s all community-based, and we have already had 5 meetups in the last month. You do NOT have to wait for someone else to start it up – just leap and BE the leader. Think of it as being the flame, not the moth.
Stand up, show up. You can course-correct as you go along. Nothing is set in stone! The way I do that is to connect into the bigger catchment area of Edinburgh on FB, Linked In etc., by searching for names like Edinburgh Ladies, Edinburgh Ladies over 40, Writers in Edinburgh, South African in Edinburgh. I joined the groups that seemed a good fit for me and just posted that I was starting a free community writing group.
Voila – People connect, find me and I add them to a Whatsapp group. YES – it does take effort and energy – but it’s my version of volunteering and giving back to a community.
4. BIG AND BOLD!
Within a week of getting to Edinburgh returning from Greece, I had found a lovely venue to host an upcoming Writing Retreat. I got ‘oot and aboot’ (out and about) checking out all sorts of interesting venues, historic buildings and coffee shops to gather my clan of writers. Even folk who have been living here were introduced to new areas in the city! I’ve put together 3 days of focussed workshops in THE most glorious castle-like setting, under the watchful eye of Arthur’s Seat. If you are interested you can check it out here. Yes, it feels like a huge leap to try and pull it off – but it’s forcing me to think differently, act strategically and get creative about meeting people who may just need this writing support from me.
It also forced me to do some LIVE postings on social media, and get out my comfort zone making some videos again to bring the city to life. By mentioning it to a contact, I am now also connected to a wonderful collective of creatives that run workshops in the city…..an exciting way forward to be revealed in a future post.
What might be calling you right now – can you get it set up and just give it a bash? There’s never TOO much to lose by going at it!
If you are a writer or know someone in Edinburgh, then just drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org to connect into this community.
NEED SOME INSPIRATION?
You can read more lessons and insights about the practical in’s and out’s of this #LocationFree lifestyle in my book. It’s got GREAT reviews – I know this from the feedback I get when people dare to take the leap! Along with sharing my 6 years of living and working around the world, I also interviewed 16 other awesome global nomads – all over 45 years old – to help you see how many ways there are to live this awesome life! Grab that #LocationFree book here
See you in the West End or a local coffee shop writing …
Till next time – stay safe out there
P.S: I recently wrote a newsletter sharing how I approach life using The 3m Principle. Edinburgh coincides with one such 3m and is my latest base. I am personally putting all of these #LocationFree tips I share above, into practice RIGHT NOW.
I was taken aback by all the responses to sharing the 3m, to be honest. It’s so natural for me to think in this way for my lifestyle – but I realised that what comes naturally to one doesn’t not for another. Duh!
If you missed that (was for subscribers only) you can still get it and see how it resonates for YOU.
Kate’s 3m Principle – grab it here confirm your mail and hey presto, you get to read about 3m.