From convincing to conversations


March 9, 2017

As we become more digitally connected, are we also becoming more isolated? Apparently so, which might explain the recent growth of face-to-face conversations – fulfilling some unmet need – in communities and networks.

A network creates a strong sense of belonging, but belonging without commitment. Examples include Oslo’s cultural events, forums and (career) networking events. Talks are hosted at venues, such as Litteraturhuset or Christiania Cafe, by organizations, think tanks and increasingly by companies. As a result, such networks enhance your career.

Although communities are diverse, they tend to have a common characteristic: they help build your character, in all senses of the word. Your communities will reveal your interesting and unusual qualities, perhaps even your quality of being determined (and able) to deal with difficult situations. Communities build character because they are often place-based, intimate, and thrive on trust. People know about each other’s struggles and successes. They show up to be there for each other, not to promote themselves.

Communities differ from organizations in that they do not have an organized goal, such as an environmental issue or a human rights concern. But they have a clear vision, such as opening people’s horizons, improving skills or raising awareness of hidden talent, Communities often have rules or regulations, but these are commonly understood rather than formally written.

Conversations That Matter in Norway examines community trends nationally and focuses on those that host conversations. The report touches on five different communities: Connect, MAK, Minds of Oslo, Sikt, and Young Ambassadors. All focus on belonging, relationships, potential and exploring how to make the world a better place.

Other trends discovered are:

  • The communities are by invitation only.
  • They are free.
  • Mentorship programs or bringing experienced leaders with younger leaders ensures sharing of knowledge.
  • Lectures with famous people inspire.
  • Facebook groups are the main way of staying in touch.
  • Conversations take place over dinners.
  • What is served sends a message.
  • The communities believe in strangers becoming friends.

Communities are filling a void and an innate desire to belong. And we need to do our part. We need to move from convincing people about our cause at conferences to listening and speaking to people through conversation.

Thank you for reading, and please get in touch with your reflections and recommendations.