I like reading. When I read, I can feel my skills, knowledge and horizons expanding. For me, reading is a way of challenging my existing patterns of thought and learn new things. Another way to achieve this is by joining a community.
You will find many interesting insights on this subject in one of the best books I read last year, ‘Community Manager’ (available in Italian only for now).
This book, written by two Italian community managers, Osvaldo Danzi and Giovanni Re. Osvaldo Danzi is the founder of the thriving business community FiordiRisorse and is also a senior recruiter, author and influencer in the Italian HR landscape. Giovanni Re is the community manager of Artigiani Digitali; another vibrant group. He’s also a researcher and lecturer in the area of visual communications and digital craftsmanship.
The book presents a series of diverse communities and explains the strategic role of the community manager in each. This is enriched using real-world examples and case studies. We’re shown that, even in a world where communications are delivered via digital platforms, newsletters, mailing list or bots, the essence of any organization is always its people. They are the key to the success of a community that shares common values and interests, and that the person driving it also usually influences it.
Back when Osvaldo was writing the book, he was looking for practical examples to incorporate. I thought it would be a good idea to give him my contribution, an introduction to the start-up community in the city where I have lived for over nine years, Krakow.
Not everyone knows that this city, located in Central Europe, is one of the leading destinations for corporate outsourcing and an excellent place for start-ups, energized by an active community.
As a member of #OMGKRK (the name used by the foundation connecting the Krakow startup community) I thought I could not miss the chance to interview one of its founders, Richard Lucas, an entrepreneur and investor. As usual, whenever I interact with him, I learnt a lot (I’ll quickly take this opportunity to thank him for all the great insights he has provided me with).
During the interview, he mentioned some examples of the events he organizes, such as OpenCoffee and Krakow Enterprise Mondays. With both events, the most significant value provided is meeting other attendees in person.
If waking up early is not a problem and you enjoy meeting new people, OpenCoffee (www.facebook.com/pg/opencoffeekrk) is an excellent event for you. Here, entrepreneurs, students and others interested in startups can network. As stated in their Facebook description: “We make sure that, whenever a young person from a less supportive background or country finds the courage to join our meeting, they see that we are glad they came. We always warmly welcome their effort and contribution.”
In contrast, Krakow Enterprise Mondays (http://krakowenterprisemondays.com ) is a pro-enterprise meetup that happens in the evening, after standard working hours. Here, students can encounter entrepreneurs and alumni who have gone into business, within a friendly and informal setting.
When attending one of these events, you can benefit from many things. You have the chance to learn something new, improve your knowledge, get some validation of your idea, get a new job, find resources for your company, business partners, investors, inspirations or, lastly, inform people of that event you are organizing.
The book suggests not focusing entirely on your interests but, instead, think about what you can offer people and focus on relationship rather than transactions. Avoid asking for something before giving. The key is to be eager to help people and, in the future, they may find ways to help you.
Something I can add to this is, that when networking at this kind of event or in general, it is better to prioritize quality over quantity. Don’t worry how many people you interact with but to make sure your interactions with them count.
Even if Poland and Italy are not close neighbors, we can identify many similarities between #OMGKRK and the Italian business community that Osvaldo founded circa ten years ago, Fior di Risorse (full name Fior di Risorse “Persone al Centro”, or “People at the Center”).
Being a proud member of both communities, I have gained a lot from both. Looking back, I see that attending these communities’ events allowed me to challenge my existing patterns of thought and help me to learn many new things! And I met new friends, found suppliers and inspirations for life.
As written in Community Manager “when you are looking for a job or business partner, the likelihood of success is strongly related to your skill in creating the right network over the previous four years, before it was needed.” This reflects Dr Cialdini’s principle of reciprocity when you provide value to others, and then you can have it back. “There is an obligation to give, an obligation to receive, and an obligation to repay.”
Being an active part of a community may help your business and be an opportunity to build your credibility. As Dr.Cialdini says: “People will do business with people they know, like and trust based on your knowledge, your creativity, and your credibility.”
Even from my limited perspective, I heartily recommend anyone to join a community that has a good fit to your goals and needs. You will not regret it! It will almost certainly boost your efficiency and effectiveness when on your entrepreneurial journey.
And as the Fior di Risorse’s motto says, even in a digital world “people are always the center”.