Fundamental Elements of Community

I just got back from Fuse, the Orion-hosted three-day coding/software developer event with the financial services industry’s top software firms. The event focuses on creating better integrations, building stronger relationships, and shaping the next generation of financial advisor technology. It was a lot of fun and a lot of great innovations came out of the weekend.

In the middle of this great, collaborative event, an interesting thing happened. I was sitting at a table with the CEO/CTO of Redtail and the top developers at Junxure. These two companies represent leaders in advisor CRM and here they were working along side of each other toward the goal of making the lives of advisors better.

The world of software development is often shrouded in mystery. Plenty of companies love to keep everything they’re doing under wraps until it launches. I get it. Competition is a powerful force. But maybe there’s something to be learned from events like Fuse, where developers share their ideas and work together with competition still squarely in mind (there were some great awards on the line).

Whether we like it or not, we are all competing. Every day we’re running in a race for attention, time, interaction, space, and dollars. We can either keep our heads down, eyes fixed on the pavement that’s right in front of us, or we can look up. We can see who is running right next to us and work together to make better things and serve our clients in greater ways.

Here are a few ideas you can implement to help you compete in a community-minded way:

1. Find those who share your ideas. Obviously your philosophy and your way of leading won’t mix well with everyone, but you already have relationships with like-minded people. The attorney you use for your business? She has clients that need wealth management solutions. Reach out to her — not just to share clients, but to actually create community and real, lasting solutions.

2. Make space to meet up. Maybe it’s just online through LinkedIn or Twitter or by reading and commenting on some Medium posts, but make space in your week to engage with people you admire or whose strategies seem similar to your own. Often face time is the best way to build community. Meet up for coffee and talk about your challenges and the needs of your customers. If someone shares your values of service and moving forward, they will be quick to share their own experience.

3. Open up. Life isn’t a zero-sum game and neither is business. Through community, you can become better together. You can serve current needs, create future solutions and build something much bigger than yourself.

As conference season rolls in, I hope you will take the opportunity to build true community with those you meet.