How do you start building a community?
It starts with you and the choices you make an a daily basis. I work to make any encounter, however random, with a person or digital contact a quality interaction. I follow-up after meetings, return emails, thank people for their time, and let them know when I like what they are doing. It takes time, but I also respond individually to new Twitter contacts. These small actions and positive support, sustained over time, can pay dividends and serve to strengthen ties between you and other people.
Here are questions questions that come to mind for people that are building communities:
- What do you want to build and why?
- What will this community do?
- What kind of people do you want to attract?
- Will the community exist physically or in the digital world?
- What are you doing on a regular basis to maintain, repair, and develop relationships?
- Once the community is established, how do you welcome new members or say good-bye to people that leave?
- How do you resolve problems?
- How does a community dissolve if it has served its purpose?
- How does it evolve and adapt to meet the needs of changing needs of its members?
The bridges that are built between people are only as strong as you want them to be.
Moving through life, I find myself creating strong and weak bonds with different groups of people. I maintain working relationships with people around the world that I have never met in person. They are reliable and productive, but I truly don't know them. Perhaps not knowing is absolutely fine in a society where technology has given people the ability to reach out and touch someone any time and any place. However, I believe people are looking for more than just access to others--they want quality connections.
The connections to people and places are what define our reality and help keep us grounded in a constantly shifting world.
I believe that over time, people will tire of living a highly connected life and will seek to maintain only those relationships where the bonds are strongest. How can you measure the strength of a bond between a person of group of people? Very basically, is information or support moving in both direction or only one-way? People grow quickly tired of being in a relationship where there is not mutual support.