Meet Kirsten Wagenaar, Founder and Owner of Bind, a Netherlands-based community-building agency that works to professionalize community building within and around organizations and make them future proof.
A psychologist by study, Kirsten Wagenaar is now running a community-building agency to help organizations grow and build connections. She started working as a community manager in 2008 at a chamber of commerce with entrepreneurs and then as a social media consultant. During her corporate stint, Wagenaar realized that most community initiatives and demands were also being picked up by social media agencies with a completely different focus. This is when she decided to go on her own and become a private contractor. She would work on both short- and long-term projects before launching her own firm in 2017. Peter Staal, her co-founder, is a biologist by trade, and at Bind, they focus on strategy and sessions, interim community management, and educational training. Together with Peter, she wrote a book called “Organising Communities” in 2019.
Growing up, Wagenaar had a smooth childhood wherein she got a lot of room for growth, exploration, and possibilities. Her father was an entrepreneur, and she knew from a young age that she wanted to follow in his footsteps and explore the world. Her passion for community building started as a 25-year-old, where she helped build them around her hometown with friends and family. This later became her career path and now her business and a part of who she is. Now she is a strategic consultant and business coach who also coaches community managers and teams in proactive and goal oriented community building and management. Her master’s in psychology has helped her a great deal in this.
Talking more about her company, she says, “Bind helps organizations (profit, nonprofit and governmental) to build communities based on common themes, interests, locations, frustrations, ambitions, etc so that organizations become more future proof (the objectives can vary a lot). The building and managing of connections between all kinds of people provide enormous value to both the organization, the individual and therefore also the world around them.”
Kirsten is an individualistic person who likes the freedom of arranging her own day and time. To be on top of her game at work, she focuses on eating, sleeping, and exercising well. She believes in maintaining a balance to ensure productivity. Being an individualistic and independent person, the first years of Bind, she felt it was challenging sometimes to collaborate closely with a business partner. Also, sometimes building a reliable team can be a challenge. However, she is making it work with an incredible team of six by her side.
She is very happy to have worked with amazing clients over the past years with whom Bind has lasting relationships with. They build strong relationships based on trust, honesty, and loyalty. They have implemented many community platforms, trained and coached numerous community builders while also having written a book about it.
Kirsten believes in paying attention to the needs of others. This is one idea that has served her well in both her personal and professional lives, allowing her to build a successful platform. You create your own world with what your convictions are. Leaving an inspiring message for her readers, she says, “I have always been working full time, also after I had my three sons. My then-husband was a stay-at-home dad. It really worked for me but was also hard at times. The most important thing is to find your own purpose and passion and believe that you have something to give to the world. After that, you need to believe that you can achieve anything you want. Confidence in yourself and trust in the process is key.”