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In my time I’d say I’ve built two communities: One at my blog, NoahBrier.com, and the other being likemind, a global coffee meetup I co-founded in 2006. Here’s a few things I learned along the way that I think might be useful:
- You’ve got to believe in it: The difference between an event and a community is that the latter is a living thing. A community needs space to breathe and evolve and to do that you’ve got to be committed to encouraging that growth. You’ve got to believe in the mission and be able to plant the right seeds/push the right buttons to encourage the right kind of movement.
- Respond to everything and everyone: This is something I (used) to do on my blog and with likemind and believe it had a huge impact. Real communities need to feel connection and your job is to be at the center of that. To make that happen everyone needs to believe there’s a real person on the other end. For likemind that meant emailing back every single person who signed up for the mailing list anywhere in the world. This started lots of conversations and generally let people know this wasn’t just another networking event.
- Jump in and be part of it: This was true on both the blog and with likemind. To be successful at building a community you have to be part of it. The only way to have the empathy necessary to build the community is to be there with it.
- Make connections: This is something I believe in generally, but I think it’s especially important in community-building. Part of your job is to be the connector. That can be people with ideas or people with people.
Of course every community is different, but that’s the point. The key is to figure out how to take these ideas and apply them to whatever you’re trying to cultivate.
PS – While I was writing this I found a few blog posts I had written on the topic in the past: