Communities are at the centre of our being. We are social by nature but building a community takes effort and practise.
Get Together brings the tested and proven wisdom from the initial spark moments to stoking the fire, and finally to pass the torch forward. The key of a successful community is to do things together with people: not for them nor consider them as an audience. You don’t manage a community.
Great communities live beyond the founders and they raise new leaders as their mature. The answer is always to collaborate more and share the activities with people.
Starting with why is a natural way for any new venture. Yet, in community building who-questions should be considered first. Who are your people? Who are the first passionate ones that are willing to take the first steps?
Mapping the shared interest areas and target group help to define the why. If you’re passionate about something and you’re not the only one it’s a great starting point.
Why is the equal partner of who that defines the shared activities that you do with the people. Communities can bridge different people, skill sets and knowledge but they also can bond via solidarity, reciprocity and social support.
Being aware of the different dimensions helps to codify the assumptions, shared values and rules for the community to flourish and grow new members that may not be as familiar with the nuances of the community from the outset when they first join.
Doing things together is the very thing that manifests a community’s purpose. These are something that are done or experienced better with people than alone. They should be purposeful, participatory and repeatable.
Every member has their own voice and they want to use it. Relationship building takes time and doing things repeatedly is essential for new habits to form for members. Otherwise, you’re only having one-off events or projects and not a community.
A shared base enables the community members to connect with each other directly. It’s a good idea to nudge people talking to each other, and help in the process. A healthy community embraces new members and actively involves everyone in activities. Setting the ground rules for community behaviour is something that becomes necessary with the size of the movement.
Every community needs an origin story that communicates the shared values and the cause for urgent actions now. What good is a group of people that have no purpose to act now?
New member recruitment is the responsibility of everyone. The community should be something where people want to become members of. And for existing members, it should be a place that they are proud of and actively sharing with others they participation and activities. Network effects are the way to grow membership using social media, word of mouth or any other means to convey the message by members.
Supporting each other and celebrating members’ experiences are natural ways to share the message. Storytelling is the age-old proven method of passing the word and getting new people interested.
A community identity has many ways to manifest itself. It can be a visual identity, shared language or rituals.
After the initial growth and formation, it’s time to nurture new leaders and “hand-raisers” who are the future leaders of the community. They are passionate and contribute a lot to the community. In any given group, it’s always a few people who are the drivers and motivators for others.
Giving responsibility for other people and letting the community evolve and organise itself are essential ways for a long-term survival of the vibrant movement. It’s a balancing act of providing enough support and structure to enable the community to flourish but still keep everyone’s freedom that brings the individual ownership and drive for the further thrive.
In summary, get together with a meaningful purpose, share the passion with others, embrace the journey together and let the community outgrow you with new challenges and people that carry the torch forward.