With creative and increased social tools for networking, neighborhoods all over the U.S. are using safe and effective ways to bring back a sense of community.
Why networking strengthens your neighborhood
Just like social networking can strengthen a company, networking — both online and in person — can strengthen the people around you. There’s some truth to the saying “it takes a village” and, in modern times, that village is typically your neighborhood. It’s more than borrowing a cup of sugar or hiring a babysitter, neighborhood networking promotes healthy relationships, encourages safe social situations and provides services and advice to other families in need of some help.
Neighborhood networking made easy
One way to network with the people around you is through the ever-growing world of social media. With many connection and networking sites at our fingertips, people can easily inquire about schools, find or form mommy groups and support groups, raise money for fundraisers, swap information, share homeowner’s updates, organize a school carpool and form a neighborhood watch program.
Social networking neighborhood sites like Nextdoor.com allow neighbors to exchange information and build a community in a safe and secure way. The easy-to-use platform confirms members by address and allows private, secured communication through the site, email or by text message. With sites like Nextdoor, neighbors can meet, mingle and share advice and services, which makes life easier and more manageable.
Meet your neighbors
Busy lives call for busy actions and when it’s within the comforts of your own neighborhood, a simple and polite wave through the glass of a car window suffices — most of the time. Whether you’re leaving late, focused on the workday ahead or coming home to spend time with your family, some busy neighbors save time by waving instead of stopping for an introduction or to chitchat about life. But when you’ve lived in a neighborhood for years and years and you find yourself doing the same simple actions, there comes a time when an introduction or conversation is the long overdue and polite thing to do.
Tips on how to introduce yourself to your neighbors:
- Plan a neighborhood block party and make sure the invitation suggests all are welcome.
- Set up an email list and start exchanging email contacts through the neighbors you do know.
- If a neighbor has a new baby, bring over a frozen dinner or card congratulating them on the new arrival. Life-changing events, like a birth, tend to bring people together — even neighbors.
- Play with your kids in the front yard on the weekends and after work. Most neighbors will be out walking their dogs, getting some fresh air or playing with their kids after a long day at work or on the weekends when schedules are less hectic.
- Stop and say hello when you drive or walk by.
Share the wealth with each other
When you take the time to network and get to know your neighbors, you learn about the strengths, services and advice different people have to offer. When you pull all those resources together, your neighborhood suddenly becomes one strength in and of itself.
You might find your neighbor’s daughter is an experienced babysitter, the guy three houses down is an insurance broker or the lady around the corner walks dogs for people while they are at work or on vacation. Instead of enlisting the services of strangers through broad social networks, you can network and confide in the people around you. Chances are, even if you don’t know the neighbor well, one of your other neighbors does and can vouch for his or her credibility.