What is Community, and Why is it Important?

by Amy Steinberg Published Nov 7, 2017 Last updated Nov 7, 2017

Every day we hear the word community used by businesses, schools and news anchors. But what does it really mean? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, community can have many meanings, but the one that most closely defines the way we use it at BioBridges is, “a unified body of individuals, such as a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society.”

Your neighborhood is a community, your gym or your professional organization could also be a community. It makes sense that the communities we gravitate toward, both personally and professionally, are made up of like-minded people who make us feel uplifted, encouraged, inspired, and supported.

Let’s concentrate on professional communities. A true sense of belonging can come when we make the conscious decision to join the professional community that is right for us.

So, why take the time to find the right professional community for you?

Having a community is having a support network.

As research has proven, our environment has a serious impact on who we are as a person. Motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said, “We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.” Having a strong support network in place can influence your thinking and make you more likely to achieve your goals.

Communities are a safe space to share knowledge and can foster collective creativity and innovation.

Theodore Zeldin said, “Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits. When minds meet, they don’t just exchange facts: they transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them, engage in new trains of thought. Conversation doesn’t just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards.”

Communities made up of like-minded individuals can be a safe space to share and build upon knowledge and experience. In fact, many of us feel a deeper sense of satisfaction and more passion and commitment toward an idea when we are able to connect with people who have similar backgrounds. Today’s technology enables knowledge to flow freely, empowering collaboration, creativity, and innovation.

Communities offer valuable networking opportunities.

Some people feel a sense of discomfort when they think about the act of networking. Think, forced small talk with complete strangers, but networking doesn’t have to take place at an awkward mixer. Networking is simply the act of connecting with people. Bill Nye said, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” Networking inside your community can help you build relationships, develop your current career, and even stay up-to-date on industry trends.

Opportunity for authentic mentoring relationships.

The right mentor can empower you to open new doors, enable you to focus on your goals, and help you realize your capabilities regardless of the challenges you foresee. On the other hand, having the opportunity to mentor someone can help re-energize your career, strengthen your skills and broaden your experience. It is not surprising that some of the most influential people in today’s world tie their success back to a strong mentoring relationship.

Do you have a professional community that you belong to? Has it had an impact on your career or your professional well-being? Have you experienced other benefits of being part of a professional community?