Andrew Fink recently wrote an interesting blog post on Multifamily Insiders about creating social connections between apartment residents, and he mentioned that the very point of living in the same community was a great initial start. I completely agree with him, but it truly is only a start. Having the same community only goes so far, and residents need to find other things that are common between them, such as stage of life, hobbies, lifestyles, etc.
I would say this is similar to online dating, such as Match.com. There are only a certain subset of people that will ever try online dating, whether it’s a function of their personality type, their interest in spending money on a dating site, or some other reason. So the population of a site like Match.com all has a common bond of actually being a member of the same site. However, it takes a lot more to find a real match within that community. Looks, hobbies, job or no job, etc all play into whether two people find a “match”.
The way I see it, the common bond of community is a great lead-in, but if it was truly a difference maker, our residents would already be great friends! So what that indicates is that there is a huge gap between that initial common bond and an ultimate friendship. The main problem is that unless you are successfully trying out a niche community like an uber pet friendly apartment community, you are likely a “diverse” community like all the others. So what you have is a large group of people with a decent starting commonality, but they are still very different:
So take the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese, for example. All the balls are in the same pit (i.e., our community), but the balls are one of several different colors, which would represent a slightly more specific level of common interests. For example, having young(er) kids is a huge common bond for people. That element in itself can bridge the gap and allow people to talk forever about what their kids have done, their own experiences with parenting, and similar topics. The same is true for “dog lovers” or fitness fanatics. These could represent interest groups that are large enough to encompass a good amount of your residents, but are not too encompassing (i.e., people who like to breathe) or too specific (i.e., people who like to wear yellow shirts with purple dragons on them).
You have all these larger interest groups at your property, but the problem is that your community is probably spread out in some way, so not all the red balls live near other red balls, and the yellow balls live next to other yellow balls. So if those groups with similar interests don’t happen to live right next door to each other, they will likely never meet! So while having the common bond of living in the same community is great, I suggest your social plan and apartment parties includes strategies to help your residents seek out their fellow green balls!