The Internet is exploding with social networking sites and websites designed to educate and connect people, whether they’re across the street or across the globe. While most of us visit one or more of the most popular online social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google Plus are currently the top five – there are countless websites and social networking sites available in cyberspace, with more appearing every year.
People use these sites for a variety of reasons, including expanding their social and professional networks and opportunities, promoting their businesses, seeking and sharing information, ideas interests, and much more. If you have a specific need or interest, there’s a good chance there are specialized websites and social networking sites for you – and they’re a valuable resource for obtaining information and connecting with like-minded people.
That’s good to know if you’ve recently moved into a new community – or even if you’ve lived there for a while and want to learn more about the neighborhood and the people who live and work there. Strong networks create safer communities and more rewarding living experiences, but with our busy schedules and time constraints, it’s not always easy to become acclimated and involved.
Fortunately, there are websites and online tools expressly designed for this purpose – facilitating everything from helping you obtain community information, discover local businesses, organizations and service providers, build connections and friendships with neighbors, become active in your local community and much more. We’ve provided an overview to get you started.
Have you heard of Nextdoor.com? If you haven’t, you probably soon will – it’s just a few years old, but it has rapidly become one of the fastest-growing neighborhood-based social networks. This free resource currently offers private forums for thousands of neighborhoods across the country, enabling local residents to communicate, connect and share information. To join, you must be invited by a current member or prove you live in a particular neighborhood, and once enrolled, your membership is limited exclusively to that neighborhood. Members can find maps of neighbors’ homes, share information about community news and events, ask and answer questions, get referrals of trusted local service providers, use classified ads to buy, sell or give away merchandise and much more.
With a quick Google search, you can discover highly specialized local websites that take a deeper dive into specific neighborhoods – hopefully, there’s one for yours. Typically managed by government agencies, civic associations, business and economic development groups and chambers of commerce, most of these free sites provide information, rather than facilitate relationships, but they’re a great source for putting important local info at your fingertips. While each site is different, you’ll find a variety of helpful information, such as community news, municipal services, civic organizations, houses of worship, education, arts and culture, dining, shopping, recreation, entertainment, resident message boards, classifieds and much more.
Many communities strive to provide information and help residents forge relationships, and they accomplish this in a variety of ways. In addition to providing new residents with the required CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions) and by-laws – the community’s guidelines and policies – many communities distribute manuals containing helpful community and local information and resources. They may also create and manage a private website for residents, which may include news, information and resources related to both the community and the local area.
If your community is professionally managed, your property management company may offer additional community resources to inform and engage residents. For example, FirstService Residential’s proprietary FirstService Residential Connect management software is tailored to the needs of each managed community’s residents, association and management team. In addition to providing community news and updates and a specialized community newsletter, FirstService Residential Connect facilitates communication between residents, Board members and managers and enables them to perform a variety of tasks, such as paying association fees, initiating work orders, accessing a community calendar, providing emergency notifications, meeting and befriending neighbors through social and special interest groups and much more.
Becoming familiar and connected with your neighbors, your community and your local area may not be easy, but luckily, there are powerful online tools and resources that can help – and that goes a long way towards creating a rewarding quality of life for you and your neighbors.
For more information on how your association can maximize residents’ living experiences and lifestyles, contact FirstService Residential.