The Importance of Being Part of a Community (Particularly in Tough Times)

Donna South | National Manager Membership & Marketing, Weld Australia

We tend to think of a community as being people divided into geographical areas or regions. Really though, a community is any group of people who are connected to or relate to one another in some way and, well, communicate. A community might be a sporting team, a neighbourhood, an industry sector, a group of members, or fifteen people with an internet connection and a passion for ferret-racing.

In challenging times, filled with uncertainty, fear, hardship or just plain rotten luck, being surrounded by a community of likeminded people can feel a little like being thrown a life preserver. The support of a tight-knit community that understands what you’re going through can be that all-important ‘something’ to hold onto when you feel like you’re struggling to keep your head above water.

But, how do you stay active and engaged in your community while dealing with major life-altering disruptions like those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Preventative measures, like social distancing, have been critical to Australia’s relative success in fighting the COVID-19 virus. But social distancing and lack of face-to-face contact can take a toll in other ways, leaving many feeling lonely and isolated. It’s important to remember though: staying connected and remaining an active member of your community does not rely on being able to ‘see’ that community face-to-face. In our digitally connected world, a real sense of community is not incompatible with social distancing. In fact, feeling connected and ingrained in a community is even more important now that we’re physically separated.

Here’s just a few reasons that being part of a community is worthwhile.

Your Opinion Matters

Decision makers everywhere want to hear feedback and suggestions. As an active member of your community, you can play a role in the regular exchange of information between decision makers and stakeholders, to help influence better outcomes. For instance, if your community is a sporting team, you can have a say in what type of jerseys you wear, or what time the team trains. When you’re a part of a community, you have the opportunity to voice your opinion and influence real change.

A Broader Perspective

Community members generally share a common interest, hobby, profession, or belief. But, every member of your community has had a different life experience and, therefore, has a different perspective. Hearing perspectives that are different to your own challenges your thinking and helps you to see a broader perspective. Being part of a community exposes you to a range of opinions, ideas, and possibilities.

Learn New Things

We can all learn new things, whether we’re 15 or 105, new to our field, or a well-respected expert. Learning keeps your mind active and opens you up to exciting new opportunities and lines of thinking. When you talk to people within your community, you often learn new things about a subject that’s close to your heart.

That Feel-Good Feeling

Being part of a community feels good! We all love to feel like we’re a part of something—that we have a role to play in something larger than ourselves. Having a laugh and talking about shared interests with like-minded people can help you maintain a positive outlook, particularly in challenging times.

The Weld Australia Community

Weld Australia is one such community, and one which many readers of this blog belong to. As a member, your opinions are sought after and appreciated – we really do value member feedback and refer to it regularly in the planning and development of services, programs and events.

Our membership is broad and diverse – just like the Australian welding industry. I firmly believe that that diversity is one of Weld Australia’s key strengths. Our members represent a broad school of thought and life experience, enabling all members (and us!) to learn from one another.

Many of our members tell us that the network, or community, aspect of membership is one of the key reasons they joined Weld Australia, or renew every year. Membership provides opportunities to meet people from all walks of life – people you would be unlikely to cross paths with otherwise, but all of whom share interest (and even a love) for welding.

2020 has already been a year like no other. Many Weld Australia members have faced challenges that would have been unthinkable just a few short months ago. And, we know it’s not over yet.

With face-to-face events off the cards for a little while yet, we’ve launched virtual ‘town hall’ sessions around the country. These virtual events are helping ensure that the feeling of community isn’t lost, and have been really well received by members. They make our network easily accessible to members, particularly those in regional and rural areas who can’t get to face-to-face events. They have also given Weld Australia the opportunity to meet members who aren’t normally able to engage in this way. In fact, these virtual events have proved so popular that we’re planning to continue with them, even once we can meet in-person again.

Associations are made to support their members during hard times – and this is one of the hardest times many Australian companies have ever faced. Weld Australia is your association – if you need help, or if you think there is something that we should know, or if you think there is some way you can help, please reach out any time. It’s what we’re here for.

If you’re not a member but want to learn more about becoming part of the Weld Australia community, you can visit our website.