Saturday, April 24, 2010

What Kind Of Community Member Are You?

There are many different communities available today for partners in the IT channel. Distributors have them - VTN, Tech Select, Varnex, SMBA and the like. Industry groups have them like ASCII and CompTIA. Vendors have them like ConnectWise and Autotask and Microsoft SBSC and dozens of others. Peer group organizations take it to a new level like HTG, TPG, Taylor Business Groups and others. There is no shortage of places for partners to plug in and be in community.

And honestly, after 25 years in the IT world, there is nothing with more power to change a business or a life than being part of a vibrant community. Community works. It changes people and businesses. And the reality is that it is one of the few real ways to see consistent and repeatable growth happen.

One of the things I have heard somewhat regularly relates to the value of communities. It seems some have the perception that they have learned all they can from their peers in the community they belong to. First of all, I highly doubt that to be the case. There is always more we can learn. But once the focus moves to self and what they get out of it, all of a sudden the rules change. Since business is doing so much better, and in some cases companies are really doing well now, some are not sure it is worth the time to come and continue to participate in their community any longer. They have got all they believe they can squeeze out of their participation so off they ride into the sunset.

When I have these conversations – I realize there has been a failure to communicate. Community, and certainly HTG, is NOT ABOUT YOU taking what you want from others. Community is about giving what you know to others. It is about sharing life. When is it time for you to move on from your community? Here are the short things I would have on that list:

1. You have given all you know and helped every member in your patch apply and be successful with it
2. You have clearly defined your business, leadership, life and legacy plans and shared that with all stakeholders so they have understanding
3. You are executing as a CEO thinker and not mired down in the day to day problems and issues
4. You have reached your goals, achieved your dreams, accomplished what you believe is most important

Having a great quarter, signing a big contract, selling more than ever before, enjoying success at the moment – those are all great things and definitely part of any community's mission. But that isn’t the end game. The question is – have you given all you can in a way that helps every person you touch become much better because they know you? Are you pouring your life into the important things – your spouse, family, relationship with God and anything else you say is important? DO you LIVE the way you talk? Vision without execution applies just as equally in areas of life and leadership as it does in achieving your business plan.

As you attend whatever community events you are part of – I hope you will come with a focus on WHAT CAN YOU GIVE rather than what you are going to take away. If everyone comes with that as their primary objective, we can all experience a time that will be unparalleled in industry history. If we come focused on sucking everything possible out of those we touch, it will just be another event. Put your focus on the giving. The receiving will take care of itself. Being a Go-Giver requires us to focus on the other person - not me, myself and I. Are you living that way? If so, I seriously doubt it is time to move on quite yet. You still have a lot of work to do in the community you are part of!

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