Community is a word that seems to be on everyone’s fingers lately, and there’s a very good reason why.
Establishing community is your key to success.
It has worked for me as a teacher, a blogger, and a read-a-thon host. Belonging to a group satisfies the desire within us to connect with other like-minded, caring individuals. Community says, “You are valued. We are invested in you.” It stands in your corner. And we all need someone in our corner, fighting for us.
If establishing community could be broken down into a recipe, it would probably look something like this:
1. Be inclusively exclusive
It sounds a bit paradoxical, doesn’t it? That’s kind of how I do things around here, but I promise it will make sense in about 60 seconds. You must have some level of exclusivity, otherwise there is no point in joining. Obviously. But your community shouldn’t be so exclusive that people avoid it because they feel they will never be able to break into it. The more in-crowd/popular-only feel you create, the less it will appear inclusive to non-members wanting in.
2. Make everyone feel at home
At home, you feel safe and comfortable. A successful space is one that welcomes all opinions without judgment. Disagree, agree, laugh, cry, make a fool of yourself, bask in your accomplishments: it should all be accepted and encouraged. When people feel comfortable, they will engage and flourish. A group whose members don’t interact with each other is no community. The engagement level is a measure of success—and makes the community a desirable one.
3. Invest in the success of your people
Simply put: when you invest in the success of your community members, they will invest in you. But you also must invest in the success of your group members for the sake of their success—not yours. People are smart, and they are intuitive. If you’re in it for yourself, they will know. If you are genuinely invested in your people, it will show. It’s something that you can’t really quantify, but you will see it in successful groups: people want to be part of it.
4. Stay positive
The Internet somehow makes it easy to focus on the negative: the things that go wrong, the things that anger you, the things that sadden you. Learn how to rise above the negativity and your community will flourish. That’s not to say all negative situations should be avoided; on the contrary, finding practical and applicable lessons to negative situations can foster better communication. In and outside of your community. Focusing on the positives makes your group more attractive and more likely to retain its members.
And here’s my secret: community is wherever you are.
It’s is on Twitter. Or Facebook. Or your blog. It is anywhere you stop to interact with people you enjoy interacting with. The best thing you can do is create community wherever you go.