Mindful Community Building: An Interview With Monica Moldovan
As the prevalence of online communities continues to grow, a new type of community has emerged: the mindful community. Mindfulness can be defined as the practice of connecting with others on a deeper level, being ever-present in the moment, staying tolerant of others’ concerns and opinions, and having an open-hearted and friendly approach to others. These basic principles can be applied to any type of community, no matter the central theme of the community itself.
To find out more about mindful communities and how to build them, we chatted with Monica Moldovan, Community Building Consultant, and a strong supporter of building impactful communities with a mindful approach.
After carving out a successful career in the corporate world, Monica Moldovan had a change of heart. She wanted to be part of something meaningful, impactful, and mindful. After a few years of joining, exploring, and contributing to the development of multiple communities, Monica is in the process of building a community for impact-driven entrepreneurs.
In this interview, Monica tells us a little about the steps leading up to her big career change and shares some tips for building a mindful community.
Panion: Can you tell me more about your professional background? When did you become involved in community building?
Monica: I am a problem solver and a community builder with a strong focus on co-creating synergies and exciting collaboration opportunities for entrepreneurs and startups. I have lived in several European countries (France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and, now, Switzerland). I have a background in project management and a passion for personal and professional development.
In 2016, while living in Brussels, I started an online training course in Digital Marketing and, during this course, I learned about customer-centric approaches to community-building. I took these learnings and began to implement them into the projects I was working on at the time. I saw speedy results, especially in handling customer relationships and in building a caring community around our services and products.
What happened is that while I loved my job and I was getting recognition for my vision and creativity, I started to go through an internal change, and I knew that there was so much more to explore in this world. I think we have a different vision of our careers in our 20s and 30s than in our 40s. At that age, we realize what makes us tick, and, sometimes, it can be something totally surprising and not aligned with our previous experiences and career.
Fast forward a few years later, I moved to Switzerland with zero connections, and I started to volunteer in local communities because I wanted to bring my contribution and knowledge to event organization and community building. Being an expat myself, I understood that there was, and still is, a thirst for authentic and meaningful relationships while looking for a job or working in the corporate world.
Panion: How did you end up joining the Professional Women’s Group Zurich community?
Monica: After a few successful volunteer projects, I wanted to use my experience to shape a more meaningful project. I saw on LinkedIn that The Professional Women’s Group Zurich was looking for board members for a year-long assignment. This was in 2020. I feel grateful for the year I spent co-creating with PWG members, and the opportunities I had to meet and exchange knowledge with a community of talented and like-minded women.
Panion: How important is it to belong to a community? What are the top benefits?
Monica: If you are an expat or a local, being part of an impactful community is an essential step to position yourself as a professional. Top benefits include a diverse network, the possibility to learn and meet new people, mentoring, sponsorship, or peer-coaching to name a few. And, of course, most importantly, developing lifelong relationships.
Panion: Do you have a favorite community moment? Any unique story that you can recall?
Monica: One story that I can share is something that happened very recently. As a professional, I was and I am part of different networks, but I didn’t find a group for community experts in Europe. After several inspiring conversations with other community leaders, I saw that the community building space is open to knowledge sharing, co-creating synergies, and spark conversations. So, the Community Hub was born, a place to exchange, connect and learn together.
This wouldn't have been possible without the support of Entnest Home of Entrepreneurs who kindly offered to host us on their online platform to meet & connect with other community leaders. I am looking forward to seeing what the future will bring for our new Community Hub!
Panion: Was there a specific community that really helped you grow?
Monica: I love this question. I have so many great communities in mind, and each of them has played a role in my professional and personal development. But one that stands out for me is the Women Rock Switzerland Group on Facebook. This really sets an example of how communities should be: caring, helpful, providing personalized advice, and supporting the members in their journeys and struggles, not to mention celebrating their successes.
Panion: What makes a community unique and special, in your opinion?
Monica: The biggest asset of a community is its members, which is why communities are so diverse, and there is no one-size-fits-all model of success. With this idea in mind, I always put the people in the center of each community, and I am interested in personally getting to know the members and their wants and needs.
Panion: What’s a skill you think is mandatory for a successful community builder?
Monica: Active listening and a willingness to learn, test, fail, and start again.
Panion: What are your three top tips for people hoping to start a community?
Monica: If you want to start a community, make sure you have a consistent vision for it.
Don’t create a community for a season, create it for the long term. So many community initiatives are fading away because there is no strategy or vision behind them. Understand that it will take time to cherish your community, to help it grow, and to connect your members together in a meaningful way. Starting an impactful community is not about you but about bringing people together and building something great with them and for them.
Panion: How could Panion help? What features do you think are the most powerful for enhancing community-building and why?
Monica: I think what is needed now is to help train community experts, put them in the spotlight, and give them the opportunity to share their experiences, successes, and even failures. In terms of features, if you could develop a feature about peer-coaching groups inside the platform, it would be helpful and greatly appreciated by everyone.
Panion: Are you working on any new/other projects? Any goals or milestones that you are looking to achieve in 2021?
Monica: I am working on starting and building from scratch a new community. The project is called Fructify Network, and we are building a community for impact-driven entrepreneurs and business leaders. We will have our first event about community building ideas on April 20th, and everyone is welcome to join.
I have also just been accepted into a program for facilitators developed by Now. Peer-to-peer learning and experimentation are at the core of this methodology, and I am very excited to dive in and develop new skills that I will be able to apply in all my community projects.
Panion: How do you see the future of community building in the context of ever-changing technology and the ¨new normal¨?
Monica: Although community building online is a relatively new kid in town (at least in Europe), it has already been proven that it’s not something “nice to have”, but “a must-have,” so I am very excited about the future. I think we can make use of the best technologies that are arriving on the market to create authentic communities that will change the way we work and do business. The future of work will be about communities and about our capacity to connect the dots and make things happen!
With first-hand experience as Community Lead of a mindful community, Monica Moldovan’s views align themselves with Panion’s mission of supporting mindful and impactful communities, and we are thankful that she has shared her tips and advice with us here today. Panion is committed to providing a community-building platform for mindful communities that need a new home and better management and engagement tools for creating impactful community experiences. We take a human-centric and empathy-driven approach to connecting people both online and offline, using an AI matchmaking algorithm and searching and tagging features that help members connect with each other on a deeper level.