Growing up, my world was the neighborhood that surrounded my Grandma Beautiful's house.
It was a community built for the workers of the local steel mills. The neighbors were Mexican, African-American, and Polish, both immigrants and first or second-generation families. The kids and grandkids played together in the park on the corner, we watched parades downtown, and we were sent to Stinky's for quick food supplies for my grandmother. She knew everyone! And by association, everyone knew us.
We could go to nearly any house to get a drink, have a snack, or visit. Whether it was Mr. Williams, Mrs. Garza, Opie and Baby's house, Candy's grandma, or Noni (my best friend's grandmother), there was always someone to talk to when we weren't home.
It wasn't a fancy neighborhood. It was diverse and filled with good people.
As an adult, this experience set the stage for the many people who became family, as my husband and I moved around and couldn't be around our own family. In our neighborhoods and our workspaces, we became a family of a diverse group of people. We cared for each other, supported each other, cooked, laughed, and watched kids and pets together. These connections are a cherished part of my life.
I bring this sense of community to how I conduct my own business.
Community is the backbone of my method of work.
My clients become my community in that I work to help them move forward in their success, much like my neighbors and family did for me.
Consulting with small businesses and nonprofits means taking the time to understand their needs, challenges, and goals. It means looking beyond the obvious in their world and getting to the heart of where they need information, guidance, or to be challenged in their thinking and planning.
It also means producing quality work and outcomes, showing integrity, and building client trust. Those trusted in a community display integrity, compassion, empathy, and trust.
How can you display these qualities? Try these tips to start:
Produce work that is backed up with traceable data.
Be on time or communicate when you can't be on time.
Give space to the person you are working with to speak and be heard.
Check and double-check your work.
Ask clarifying questions. It is better to adjust while working than do it all over again because you didn't understand something.
Be prepared for meetings.
Think back to your community - whether it be your neighborhood, family, social group, or even workplace. What makes that community special or meaningful to you? What characteristics stand out? What characteristics do you try and bring to that community?