Connecting My Community

Technology is something that has always been given to me. It comes naturally to me, because I’ve been using it as it has developed since the 1980’s. My parents, both in printing and publishing, always had Mac’s in the household. I taught myself how to type by typing out books and articles. In addition to contributing to my typing speed, I also learned grammar and punctuation, things that would help me to communicate with others throughout my entire life.

Because I always had technology, I’ve literally just adapted to its many changes over the past two decades. I can still remember logging on to the Internet by means of a modem that would screech and squeal as it connected. At that time, pre-Facebook, I spent my time in chat rooms, downloading music on Napster, and competing in card game tournaments on Yahoo!.

By then, my parents had already made the switch from traditional printing to online publishing. They started building websites and established a company that they called Morgansites. For many in the Excelsior Springs area, the Morgan’s helped to establish a business presence online and market their goods and services 24/7 through a custom website. While my family’s business was already building sites two decades ago, there have been a lot of changes between now and then.

Developments in social media have only continued throughout that time. I started using it to connect others while running for office in 2009. Facebook was the perfect tool for me to publicize my message for the campaign, connect with supporters, and then raise money directly by linking up my website. Since that time, I have used social media to publicize various candidates, brands, businesses, and organizations.

Even still today, the developments in social media have us changing our approach when it comes to online marketing. Websites are now mostly used to house the tools that you’ll use to push to all your networks for the best return. Creating and establishing those networks is what is most important for it to be successful, though. Social media offers tools that stand-alone websites cannot, which is other people.

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About three years ago while working as the Chamber Director in Excelsior Springs, I was looking for the best way to promote our local businesses to the community in a kind of “Shop Local” campaign. I created a group and called it “Excelsior Springs News, Events, and Daily Deals.” While working from a list of local businesses, I went through and found which of them had a facebook page and which of our members were missing one. Then I started visiting each of the pages and sharing their posts into the group. I limited the group to only local business promotion, no individual promotions, because there were already established Swap Shop pages that provided individual citizens that opportunity.

Since that time, the group has grown to close to 9,000 and steadily growing with 10-20 new members each day. The list of businesses has doubled what it was three years ago. Now I monitor a little over 400 local pages, finding the latest information and sharing it with the community two to three times per day. I allow any local business that wants to post into the group to do so. In being this connected to the community, I now have around 3-5 people per day sending me questions or asking for local referrals. Having grown up in the community, I have an advantage in knowing its history and what the business community has to offer.

Aside from simply sharing posts into the group each day, lately I have been trying to offer new ways for our community to connect. I have established a type of theme for each day as follows:

– Memories Monday – sharing history or scenes of Excelsior Springs that can be reflected on by citizens
– Caption Contest Tuesday – sharing random photos depicting scenes that allow for citizens to make funny captions on
– Ask a Question, Get an Answer Wednesday – citizens ask community-related questions and I work to get them an answer
– Thankful Thursday – citizens give shout outs to things/people they’re grateful for this week
– Fab Friday – citizens share what they’re doing for the weekend
– Social Saturday – promoting local business Facebook pages to increase their follows
– Sunday Survey – asking a question for citizens to answer on random topics

As I move into a different role in the community, working as the Community and Business Liaison for the Excelsior Springs Job Corps, I’m interested now more than ever in finding out what the needs of the local community are and how I can connect others with those who can make them more successful. I plan to devote this space to positivity and the work that I’m doing daily to connect the Excelsior Springs area community even more.

There’s great power in communities that are connected. This next year not only do I plan to better connect the community with what’s going on, but also create opportunity for people to connect outside of technology. Using technology as the tool that pulls us together, to create a community of support to each other, along the way.

If you are interested in this approach to community, you might consider watching the following YouTube videos. Mrinalini Ingram talks about the power of connecting communities in her TED Talk:

The insight that Lisa Cook brings in her TED Talk to those in communities that are living alone was also eye opening:

If you have ideas for ways to connect communities or create authentic opportunities for people to connect with one another for advancement, please leave a message in the comments! To join our community’s Facebook group, click here!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Today was the day that it looked as though it could rain most of the day, but never actually produced any precipitation. This morning there was a gorgeous sky that looked like this:

11794385_1019990548013593_7630901340193717119_oMid-morning, I joined some of the staff at The Elms Hotel & Spa for a marketing meeting. It is our hope that by working together and partnering on different events, we can provide a great stay for any of our visitors to town. There are so many great things happening in our business community that we have to offer. Communication is key to making it work for everyone.

There are 40 new teachers to our Excelsior Springs School District this year! The past two weeks they have spent in orientation and meetings, preparing them for the school year that starts next week. Today they had a scavenger hunt in the downtown, starting at the Chamber office where we sent them off with bags to fill with downtown goodies.

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After this, I went with my husband to Price Chopper for lunch. They have a new grill and are in the final stages of their renovations of the dining area. I encourage everyone to drop by there for lunch, especially if you can catch a day when they’re having a fruit cobbler. Delish!

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By evening, the clouds were starting to roll through quicker and a nice, cool breeze began to blow. The sky looked ominous, but never produced anything to live up to its mean face.

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