Making Connections and Building Community

23 Dec, 2012

by Jenna Kashou

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There are certain advantages to being from a small town. “Connection really matters in small towns,” says Phil Gerbyshak. Phil is from Crivitz, a popular summer destination with a rustic charm in Northwest Wisconsin.  He’s built his own robust community and is passionate about helping people connect.

Phil was the featured speaker at an event Monday night for the Working Writers of Wisconsin. He is known for his no-nonsense approach to communication. He’s written five books (the first when he was only 26) and insists that good communication is always the differentiator in the room.

There was no need to warm up the crowd. His effervescent presence, neon yellow glasses and jazzy hand gestures were enough to immediately command the group’s attention. He introduced the idea of human connectivity and preaches: “If you build a community, each one commits to its success. You have to make people feel welcome and give them the space to be a part of whatever it is you’re doing.”

Phil and WWW member Carla Ann Ernst.

Phil and WWW member Carla Ann Ernst.

Writers create niches and now more than ever, have the power of accessibility when it comes to building communities through social networks. If you contribute to something – like good content – then you’ll have amazing reach. His advice doesn’t just pertain  to writers though. Phil encourages everyone to cultivate their own community around whatever it is that you have to offer, and convert them by making them feel included. Give your community something they can’t get anywhere else.

This small-town concept of community has a very practical application in both business and communications. And  how novel an idea that in the digital age you do something as simple as reach out to someone face-to-face to share ideas, rather than just Tweeting or Facebooking (Yes, they’ve now become verbs) back and forth. We are all guilty of getting stuck behind our screens, but it’s always a nice reminder to leverage those digital tools for real connections.

 

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About the author

Jenna Kashou

A Milwaukee native and freelance writer, Kashou has published in local publications such as Milwaukee Magazine, M Magazine and the Shepherd Express. Find her weekly adventures of city life as MilwaukeeMag.com's ‘Girl About Town.’ Kashou earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa in mass communications and Spanish, and a graduate certificate in digital storytelling from Marquette University. By day, she is a grant writer for Radio Milwaukee and has worked in the nonprofit sector in arts and education for 10 years. In her spare time, she enjoys dabbling in everything from being a DJ and photography to do-it-yourself deco, yoga and rock climbing.

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