Through my travels facilitating Startup Weekends in different communities all around the world and especially through the influence of my last experience up to Kelowna, BC, I have come up with a linear process for what I have seen necessary to build any type of community, once you have their attention.
Here are 7 steps that will help build your community:
1. Break down their walls and build trust
Once you have people “in the room”, the reason they stay attentive is solely based off of trust. This is the beginning of your role as a community leader and you need to start building relationships with the people you want to lead. Focus on creative and genuine ways in which you can give reasons on why your peers should trust you.
In the TED talk above, Tim Brown from IDEO talks about the importance of creating a fun environment within IDEO which fosters creativity and innovation. Whether it is a tech startup community, church group or sports team, how do you build trust within the community you are trying to lead? Addressing this issue first will ensure your community is going in the right direction and be the basis of why your community will flourish, just like IDEO.
2. Set a unique culture that is your communities own
Tribes are being formed all around the world in every aspect of our lives so your peers need to clearly understand what is so important about this new tribe you want them to enter. Create your identity that relates to who you are and what your aspire your community to be. In Kelowna they wanted to create not only a tech startup community but one that related to the laid back and fun culture that is within the city. Zappos has their 10 family core values which include “create fun and a little weirdness”.
What do you want your culture to be about and how is it unique? If there is nothing definitive about your tribe you will get lost in the mix and won’t find the strong followers who clearly understand and identify with who you are.
3. Educate them on what it means to be in the community
One of the most important things to note about building a tribe is that your tribe needs to know what it means to be “IN” the community and what it means to be “OUTSIDE” of it. Defining your boundaries will help the community understand what it truly means to be a part of this specific tribe and will give members a stronger purpose of why they are believers in you. People want to be a part of something larger than themselves and at this point is where the passion starts to build and the transition between peer to community member begins. Give them meaning and your movement will begin.
4. Facilitate conversations and give community a voice
Connectedness is at the core of community development. Whether it is through social media (FaceBook pages, blogs, forums, etc.) or actual meetups (CoWorking Spaces, conferences, community events, etc.), giving your community a voice and allowing for ideation, collaboration and cross pollination is the glue for your tribe. Continue to create multiple strong avenues where your community can continue the conversation of how to further your mission to achieve the overall vision.
5. Empower community members to take action
I believe one of the most overlooked elements towards community development is the idea that community growth isn’t lead by one strong person but it takes the entire tribe to take action to create a movement. It is not the role of a community leader to do all the work to create a movement. It is her role to design platforms in which empower the tribe to push the community forward. If you feel overwhelmed because you are doing all the work to create this movement, you may be focusing your energy are the wrong things. Empower the community to step up and take action, not to participate.
A good example of this is our Startup Weekend events that volunteers around the world lead and put on themselves. A lot of people believe that they should be THE one that manages/organizes all the local events for the city, thus taking on all the responsibilities to move their specific community forward. But in reality, you know when your community is growing when you are having multiple people stepping up to lead this project. In Seattle there isn’t one person organizing 10 Startup Weekend events per year, it is almost a different person/group every time.
How can you encourage, facilitate and motivate people within your tribe to not only participate but to take action to help move your progress forward?
6. Keep community informed on everyone else’s progression
A key part of happiness is the feeling of progression in the efforts you are contributing towards. Nobody wants to feel like their energies aren’t impacting anything. This can easily be done through a blog, Facebook group, newsletter, etc. Make an effort to be consistent on following up with information appropriate to your community.
Potential things that may be of interest to your community:
– General information (blog posts, etc.) on related topics that your tribe would be associated with.
– Stats/infographics related specifically to your community
– Announcements related to your community
– Q+A and Feedback
7. Show appreciation
Like I said earlier, a true community is built upon a lot of people within the tribe that help move the entire community forward. Because of this, never forget to show gratitude and appreciation for all the help the community puts into making the mission far bigger than what it originally started as. Throw a party, give out community awards, do something to remind your community that what they do is meaningful and worth something.