Yesterday, we focused on the importance of deepening one’s roots, of establishing community in one’s community, of “growing where you are planted.” Today, let’s take it a step further and talk about planting seeds elsewhere. The idea here, of course, is to think outside the “four walls” of your own community and look beyond our community to make broader connections.
For me, though Kansas City is and has always been home, I am proud to have family, friends and colleagues across the globe. I have siblings in New Jersey and Dallas, uncles and aunts in Los Angeles and St. Louis, cousins and other extended family in many locations throughout the U.S. When I go to visit, it feels so comfortable. Having gone to college and graduate school in Massachusetts and Chicago and then worked as a professional for nearly 20 years at major companies New York, Kansas City and beyond, I have friends and colleagues in far flung cities around the earth.
Last year, my colleague, Michele, and I had the opportunity to go to Terni, Italy – on the plains of that country (it’s sort of like the Kansas City of
Italy!) – for almost a full week. While there, we trained and certified 24 people to deliver FastTrac courses. The business aspect of the trip was important and extremely satisfying. But, I must tell you, the part that was the most meaningful and fulfilling was building relationships with people – now friends – from 10 countries in Europe! And, I must mention, our primary partner not only hosted us to conduct the training, but he invited us into his home… prepared meals for us… introduced us to his family. It made us feel like family. It made us feel like we belonged there. Michele and I are still talking about that experience – the place, the food, the sites and especially the people.
The point of all this is to say that while it is important to establish community in your own community, it is equally important to be a person of the world. To have contacts and touch points in as many locations as possible. It will expand your presence, it will expand your mind, it will expand your knowledge, it will expand your world view. And, hey, it never hurts to have friends in places like Italy!
The question is, of course, how do you build and maintain relationships from afar? Though this can be time consuming and even tricky, there are ways to ensure that your ties go unsevered. Some ideas include:
- Telephone. Ah, it seems so “old school,” so mundane, but the ol’ telephone can still work wonders! A simply phone call from time to time can help to keep you caught up with folks in faraway places. Oh, and don’t forget that there are free or very low cost options like Skype, FaceTime and Lync to allow for both voice and video discussions making it seem like your contact is sitting right there with you! You could even kibbitz over a morning coffee via video!
- Social Media. Consider use of tools like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to share your updates and to check out updates from others. Though this is more of a one-to-many approach to staying connected, you can also use these apps for one-to-one communications to make the conversation more personal.
- Pen and Paper. I know people who, especially during the winter holidays, take time to send a greeting card or, better yet, a letter to share year-in-review style updates with family, friends and colleagues. Sometimes they are handwritten, sometimes they are typed out or sent via email, sometimes they are photocopies, sometimes they are personalized for each recipient. No matter… the sentiment is the same and it is a way of expressing the importance of maintaining your relationship with the addressee.
- Texting. What, you might wonder, could one possibly share in 160 characters or less that would be meaningful as a way to stay in touch with those in other cities? Well, for example, on the kids’ first day of school, my sister-in-law in Dallas sent a simple text that said, “1st day of school” with a photo of my nieces. That’s all it took to put a smile on my face and give me a small glimpse into how the girls are growing and what is going on in their lives. Quick hit. Effective.
Those are but a few ideas – what others can you suggest for people wishing to plant seeds elsewhere and cultivate them as they blossom and grow? The global CLC community eagerly awaits your input.