CareersMoving

Connecting in Your Community

BARB STEGEMANN

I have lived in six provinces and every time I sing Oh Canada it brings back fond memories of a diverse collective of warm neighbors, colleagues and clients from St. John’s Newfoundland to Port Moody BC. Having moved around so much I am often asked if I was in the military. I reply, “No, but some of my dearest friends are in the military serving this great country, which I am so grateful for.”

Having the freedom to travel about Canada over the years, studying at different universities, learning French and working different jobs has been very exciting for me. After twelve years of this, I was confident enough to start my own company on Canada’s West Coast and enjoyed working with what I call the “titans of business” for many years.

About three years ago, I returned home to Halifax, (I moved back home for love!) Recognizing it was not the same economy as British Columbia, I thought it best to take a job until I had properly established my new network. And that was more than alright with me, as I accept that transition means adapting to change. Once, I had my new network in place, I was able to go solo and launch a company once more.

With this experience in mind, I would like to share some suggestions on how you can get to know your new neighbors and begin the process of building your network.

Networking_article_1Through my travels, I have discovered there are good people wherever you go. The best way to allow people to really shine and show how good they can be is to not compare communities. It’s challenging to go from a rural community to an urban setting where you go from being spoiled by neighbors showing up with pies and fresh baked pan rolls to being somewhat anonymous. However, it’s important to understand that sometimes urban folks show their neighborly ways differently and it may take a little more time to connect. From my experience the best way to get to know your city neighbors is to volunteer.

Volunteer. You will find a group that shares your values. The group you choose will become like extended family. There are many opportunities out there. You could become a member of a steering committee for an event, work with the homeless, or join a church group. Whether you like hands on volunteering or directing at the board level, there is no shortage of need for volunteers. Plus, it’s one of the keys to being happy. Forgetting oneself and seeing to the needs of others has a calming, empowering effect.

Join a sports team. If you have kids, get them signed up for a sports team. The other parents become your family immediately. If you don’t have kids, join a team yourself. Regardless of skill, adult recreation teams, no matter what the sport, are for fun.

Attend events. If you see an event that interests you, write or call the organizers and find out how you can attend. I believe everyone must be invited to the banquet, from all walks of life, to really build harmony within a community. When you walk into the room, don’t be self conscious; just walk up to the first person you meet and tell it like it is: “I am new to town, I am really happy to be here. Tell me what you like most about this group?”

Join Social Networks. Get on Facebook. You will reconnect with people from your past community, and you can introduce them to your new community.

No matter how nervous I was before entering a new room, or connecting with a new community, I have always held on to the belief that I have gifts and talents to share with others. It’s a responsibility to share our gifts with others and it’s the key to being joyous. The word companion means “sharing bread”. We were intended to gather with others. Find ways to dine with others and share bread and you will be at home no matter where you live.

Barb Stegemann is an author, motivational speaker and strategist. She recently launched her first perfume: Afghanistan Orange Blossom Eau de Parfum, made from the licit orange blossom crops in Afghanistan. Contact Barb at www.the7virtues.com

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