Business Tip for Culture Makers #1025: Invest In Your Community
Written by Kelly Diels
When I was first starting out online, I witnessed an influential woman using her platform to boost the signals of others (including mine).
She tweeted people all day every day and every week, she profiled someone her audience didn’t (yet) know on her blog.
She created a list of professionals she recommended and posted it on her site. This was a career-changer for lots of people.
Personally speaking, she invited me to events with her and introduced me to people who could hire me.
Gloria Steinem apparently does this too — I’ve read that whenever she’s speaking somewhere or invited to an event, she brings along young feminists with her so they can make connections and get known.
This informal mentor of mine was public as someone who believed in women and invested in her community and I can tell you from personal experience that she did even more of that behind the scenes.
I know the impact of this, first-hand, and it taught me something important.
I explicitly resolved to do this, too. (I’ve written about the importance of hiring our community members **before** they’re famous or successful.)
Even when I wasn’t making money but I was getting attention, I used what I had — my social media reach — to invest in community members.
A while ago I was interviewed by Morra Aarons-Mele (Women & Work) for her Hiding In The Bathroom podcast and she described a way we could do even MORE of that kind of investing — not just with attention and sharing — within our community.
I also want to point out she knew I existed and invited me to speak because a mutual friend introduced me to her. This is exactly what I’m talking about: we help each other rise.
She told me about a recruiting agency founded by women. They interview people at lunch and at coffee, which means they spend a lot of their business money in restaurants. To make that money have a social impact, the owners specifically resolved to do that at restaurants and coffee shops that were minority- and women-owned.
If you’re an online business, there’s an opportunity here for you, too. Most of our expenses are for apps and software, so we can leverage those line items to have a social impact.
Let’s say you need a social media scheduler. You’re comparing three or four options for their functionality. You could also look at their team or org chart to see if there are people of colour and women in executive leadership positions (and, and, and).
You could make a list of things that matter to you and try to select providers that you WANT to invest in (here’s a list of 8 apps founded by women of colour and white women, people of colour, feminists or culture makers that I recommend using in your business and marketing).
To help me do this when I’m comparing new apps and software, I made a matrix of all the functionality and culture-making criteria I’m looking for. Then I fill it out for all my options.
(I included this matrix in the toolkit of the social media workshop I teach, too, so that participants had something to help them get started on this.)
- Sometimes I have to choose the least offensive option. (In these cases I remind myself of something Rebecca Solnit says about voting: it’s not a valentine.)
- Sometimes I get to choose an option that makes my heart sing.
It’s a simple step when you’re selecting apps and providers, and it helps us invest in our communities, and it builds culture-making business practices into the day-to-day structure of your business.
You can do this when you’re choosing new software AND you can review the existing providers in your business and see if they’re still the best fit (a lot of mine aren’t, so I’ve got some work in front of me…iterate, iterate, iterate).
We have a lot of power (sometimes more than we even recognize) and this is one of the ways we can use it to grow ourselves and our communities.
Seeking to invest in what you want to grow is a simple and important thing to do in our businesses.
Because together we rise.
You might also like these related posts:
- Business Tip for Culture makers #220: 8 apps that are great for your marketing AND are founded by Women of Colour, People of Colour, Women, or Feminists
- Hire them When They’re Hungry. Hire them On Their Way Up.
This Business Tip for Culture Makers is part of a series.You can find more of them here.