“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate,” explains entrepreneur and marketer Seth Godin in his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us.
“You are welcome here, we like you”
Human beings are wired to connect (research supports this). At our core, we’re cooperative creatures who work together to better the whole of our system. We tend to gather in tribes of people who think and act like we do because it’s safe, comfortable, and advantageous. In high school we called them cliques. Animals in the wild gather in herds. Godin explains, “the modern tribe simply says ‘you are welcome here, we like you, people like us are a part of a thing like this, we’ll watch your back.’”
Science is just beginning to discover how truly connected human beings are to one another. It turns out our hearts literally send signals to one another that can be measured and studied. Our brains are capable of matching the emotional state of someone we’re with. If I’m anxious, you too will become anxious. If I’m happy, your mood will lift.
Today we have at our disposal more tools than ever to connect us with other human beings. But often the conversation turns to how disconnected we feel, how lonely and isolated. Symptoms of our disconnection include offices implementing “no email” days to force people to interact face-to-face, poets virally lamenting their isolation, and individuals who text more than they talk.
It stands to reason that the human need to connect with like-minded individuals united under leadership and a common idea is the perfect recipe for stellar conference attendance. Yet here, too, we feel a disconnect when perhaps 30% of membership attends a conference (and many of those who do are so plugged into their smart phones they aren’t truly present). Why not 100%?
Godin tells us the second element of a tribe is a way to communicate. You probably already have a system of emails, direct mail, postcards, social media, ads, and more that you use to provide information to your base. But are you truly communicating? Do you convey a powerful message of value, of belonging, of connectivity? Are your members enticed and inspired enough to take action? Are they taking part in the conversation and communicating back? If you’re not sure, maybe it’s time to take a closer look at how to communicate in a way that moves people to action. (More on this next time!)
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