One of the communities I have robustly engaged with to connect with go-getters, change agents and interesting people is LinkedIn.

One reason I engage is the responses (read: conversations) by thoughtful, smart and equally engaged people – connectors, like my friend and colleague, Paul Garcia.

I asked: how do you engage with your own community, in-person, real-time?

Below is what he chose to contribute.

Gilman School taught me being a first-class citizen requires you to be a part of your community in an active way (1). Little things (2) like picking up a piece of trash instead of walking by (3), bigger things too.

I’m a little nostalgic for neighborhoods where you know your neighbors (4), you talk to one another, keep an eye out for unusual happenings (5), and bake a pie to welcome someone new (6). Those connections make a difference (7). It is best in the give-give-get mode (8). Don’t wait for others to make a connection to you. Offer a connection yourself. (9)

I joined the local civic association in my neighborhood in DC (10). It covers about 3000 houses. Mostly it’s retirees who have lived in the neighborhood since the 1960s. When I joined them about 10 years ago, I was definitely the youngest member (11), even though I don’t think of myself as particularly young (12).

After a meeting or two, I got the gist of what it was all about, and I walked up to the president and offered my unconditional help (13). 8 years later I was VP, personal friends with the mayor and two city councilmen (14). And contributed to the development of new shops and housing (15). I connected because I wanted my neighborhood to BECOME something I wanted (16). I didn’t sit back and wait for someone else to do it for me.”

Below are my thoughts on how packed with connectivity Paul’s message is, how useful it is for us all.

1. Connectors are active in their communities.

How are you connecting within your community, in-person?

2. “little things” come in all sizes (think: if you saw a brick wall and could tell either a single brick was missing or there was a gaping hole, you’d notice. bricks = small = relative)

3. When’s the last time you picked up a loose piece of detritus, discarded by another person, and took care of it? It’s a great helpful habit – and contagious & a good example.

4. Knowing your neighbors is fundamental for connectors. How many of your neighborhood neighbors do you know? Make it a goal: meet or visit with 1 per week for 2019. Introduce yourself, share a small gift or goodie, invite them to come over.

5. Familiarity breeds safer, more hospitable and fun neighborhoods. It’s about noticing, not about being nosy.

6. I love pie, P. What kind can I bring you?

7. Connections are everything; who & how you know people – how they know you as well – breeds healthy society, good business, charitable endeavors.

8. Give-give-get = a practice and words to live by.

9. Yes, make the First Move. You’ll be glad you did – so will the other person.

10. This is possible and a good idea in every neighborhood in the world. I grew up in the bustling Twin Cities (Minnesota) and have lived in towns of 212 (rural MN).

11. Age is only a number; every person, every age is capable of giving and connecting.

12. 🙂

13. Give-give…. it’s best to start by being unconditionally generous, as Paul modeled here.

14. This is how you become a “You know everyone!” person. You connect often, with meaning, when you get involved.

15. Having a say in building neighborhoods is empowering, when driven by genuine engagement in our communities. Said another way, no bitching without getting involved.

16. See #15, above.