Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Sense of Belonging Should Power Associations

Knowing Your WHY creates a sense of belonging
Walking through a very crowded Midway Airport the other day, I thought about a key point Simon Sinek makes in his awesome book Start with Why.
  • “All people of all cultures share the basic need to belong. When we feel like we belong, we feel connected and we feel safe. Our desire to feel like we belong is so powerful that we will go to great lengths, do irrational things and often spend money to get that feeling.”
Sinek mentions that often when traveling, we connect with strangers who turn out to be from our home towns or our home state. These may be people we really don’t know but when we’re away from home we connect with them because we both grew up in the same area.

When I wear my Ohio State hat in my travels, I find these types of connections. It almost always starts a conversation with a fellow Buckeye (or sometimes a Michigan fan!). As Sinek says, it gives us that sense of connection.

And, that is a connection I feel when traveling through Midway, Sydney Harbor or other airports. A quick nod or greeting (as in "O-H!") to others wearing Ohio State apparel. 

Thinking about this while I was in a crowded airport, I remembered some old ASAE research on the 10 fundamentals of community as strategy. Among those fundamentals were three that relate to the sense of belonging:
A. The Linking Business    
     1. Exchange is the engine
     2. Strength in weak ties 
     3. Energy of the edge 
B. The Identity Business
     4. Symbols make community visible
     5. Power of stories
     6. A sense of place

I wonder if it is still relevant today? Given some of the research listed in Sinek’s book, it seems to ring true.

If so, what is your association doing to create a sense of belonging for its members? Shirts? Hats? What other ways to show members they belong?

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