I would compare community building to mountain climbing. In the beginning, often our dream peak seems distant and difficult to reach. But with each step, we see that we are getting closer and closer, and the trees at the bottom are getting smaller. And so, step by step, we reach the dream mountain. There’s no shortcut here. This process must be done according to what the environment is telling us.
What is there to remember when you start your adventure with community building? Whether it’s building a community around a person or a topic, the following tips should work for each of you.
1. Designate a permanent place of communication
In the beginning, we should choose a space where our group can be kept up to date with what is happening.
It can be a channel on social media (or even a few), mail, or even a permanent event space. You choose a place based on where you find people who are interested in you, what resources you have available, and what your goals are. The most important thing in all of this is consistency.
Chaos, which is a situation in which you once post on your Facebook profile, then suddenly send a letter by mail, and then do an Instagram story, may turn out to be too expensive. At first, it’s better to choose fewer channels and manage them well, rather than try to be on every platform.
2. Be systematic
Communication with your community should be directed towards building a habit. And this is created through regular activities. By sharing content every day, you’re getting used to the content you create. Regularity is essential here. I even noticed the need for regularity in my surroundings, for example by observing activities on Instagram. If people who publish regularly suddenly stop, I feel very surprised. I wonder what happened. I see the need to find out what’s going on with them right now. And that is their strength!
During the partnership with Venture Café in Warsaw, I conducted authorial interviews called “Women”! I talked to absolutely exceptional women about their beginnings in business, the biggest lessons, and their goals. From the very beginning, the organizers have focused on building communities around this project. All interested parties knew when and where the meetings were taking place.
If someone asks about the recommendation of interesting events in the field of innovation in Warsaw, it is known that I can always offer something.
Therefore, be systematic, systematic, and, once again, systematic 🙂
3. Create a symbol that identifies the community
There are plenty of these symbols in our daily lives. The well-known Apple’s bitten apple image or the Nike “swoosh.” In my opinion, Martyna Wojciechowska’s partnership with the W. Kruk brand was great. I liked the Freedom collection the most—wings, compass, hawk. Symbols that, on the one hand, have their meaning, and on the other hand, leave room for each of us to give our own meaning. At the same time, they are beautifully related to the ambassador’s personality, her daily work, and her motivations. By owning such jewelry, a person can find what is missing in their life or demonstrate what is important to them.
4. Communicate your values clearly
The beginnings of community building seem easy. We know what’s important to us, what drives us. However, over time, a crisis may come. On the one hand, it may seem to us that we talk about something so often that it makes no sense to repeat it. People in our circle need to know these things. However, here we forget that new people may still be appearing, and it is because of them that it is worth repeating some things.
On the other hand, the values that are important to us could become blurred. Something that was important to us at the beginning becomes commonplace and is no longer something special. It also happens that our values change, which is not a bad thing in business. It is then that the accusations appear, such as “sellout,” or “he/she is no longer the same as he/she used to be.”
I encourage you to observe your communication during this time. Continually emphasize what is important to you, and what motivates you. And when the change comes, speak boldly of it. This is always fairer and creates an opportunity to start an interesting discussion, to start a dialogue.
5. Express yourself and listen to feedback
The community is not made of one-sided communication. It is a dialogue, and it is worth being aware of it from the beginning. The community requires its creators to be open to feedback. Not everyone will always be comfortable with what we are doing, and will have their own different expectations, often emphasizing it and informing us about it. But that’s the kind of living community that’s the best test group there is. The ideal situation assumes that you will be able to send information to specific people, that they are the first ones who can check if everything works or does not work as it should, even before wider distribution. This can be a great distinction for them, and for you, it will be valuable feedback and information on what needs to be improved.
You can count on the brutal honesty of the group members. However, when you listen to their suggestions and implement them, you will gain dedicated users. You’ll give them a sense of agency. Co-creation is a wonderfully engaging element.
6. Organize meetings
Nothing can replace a face-to-face meeting. Despite the huge number of communication platforms, most of us are happy to meet with others in real life. I observe this daily, and I see that even though people talk to each other through instant messengers, a live meeting allows them to raise issues that go beyond the current topic of conversation.
People are social beings, and often a sense of belonging to a given community can be seen during the conference. Events can integrate strongly, open your eyes to other opportunities for cooperation, and encourage you to talk more openly.
For how to organize them, you can read here and here.
When building your community, try to create conditions for your community to meet. Whether by opening a new store or launching a new app, or maybe by a hackathon. You have plenty of options here. Test and see which one works best for you. And if you don’t want to do it yourself, contact me 🙂
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