The Magic of Including People

gathering Participation is a powerful thing. There’s nothing more magical than including others into your circle, be it at a social event, at work, or in the larger context of using social networks and media. Here are some thoughts about how this impacts your work and your life overall.

Building Networks Fosters Support

In building a social network, I try my best to be as inclusive of people as I can. In the online world, this means that if someone I don’t know adds me to Facebook, I accept, because it might be that they read my blog or follow my Twitters, and maybe they are great folks who know something, and have something to add to the conversation. Why should I exclude them.

The more folks in a network, the more likely someone I’m connected with knows something. I decided to ask a question about professional speaking today, and asked seven people in my network. When I need support, I have a network to reach out to, and I use it regularly. Conversely, I try to be as helpful as possible all the time, too.

Including People in Social Events

During the Podcasting and New Media Expo, I did my best to connect up people I knew from different circles, such that maybe some new friendships or partnerships would form. Why? Because there are LOTS of great people doing great work out there, and it’s not so likely that we’re all going to know each other. Better that I make an effort to help folks make new friends, so that something cool might happen in the future.

And it’s not hard. You just say something like, “C.C., have you met Joel Mark Witt? This guy has the best presence I’ve seen in a while. His podcast totally blew me away. Joel, if you want tips on speaking, C.C. knows how to give a gripping presentation while still seeming human in the process.” Poof. They both have starting points for conversation. Now, if nothing takes off from there, it might just be bad timing, or bad chemistry, but you’ve given it a shot.

Including People at Work

The key to great work relationships is participation. This goes from the leaders down to the smallest elements of a team. If you’re part of a group at work, participation better be the mainstay of your operating method. And you can’t fake this. Believe me. You might say team, team, team, but if you can’t walk that talk, it will show almost immediately.

Ways to include people at work might be to seek solutions to challenges through the team’s methods, instead of simply dictating an order. If you’re not sure about your team, start with small challenges, and work your way up with each success. Provide guidelines and edges to what you want the team to accomplish, but give them the satisfaction of recommending and implementing a solution. Even if you do this SOME of the time, it’s a great leg up.

Including Family

There are ways to do this in the house. My five-year-old daughter is definitely part of the team wherever we can include her in the picture. She helps my wife bake things. She makes decisions on how we’ll spend free time by making choices we offer to her. She participates in my travel experiences, by charting out my trips on a map, and by keeping close attention to my flight rewards program, so that she knows when I’ll get a free ticket (because she and I have a date in Manhattan when I get that next ticket).

Every time my daughter feels included, she feels stronger, smarter, and more confident. And it’s in that example, in what I know she feels, that I tie this all together. People, when given the chance to participate, feel like they’re PART of something and like they matter. The more you do this in every thing you conceive, and in every project you’re a part of, the more the rewards will come rushing back in upon you.

How about you? Do you take steps to make people feel included? How do YOU feel when you’re included, or not? Any advice for the rest of us?

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Photo credit we3m

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