How to Build a Community Around Yourself: Best Practices

Community Building 101

You can call it a network, organization, union, or whatever resounds best in your head – but in the end they’re all some form of community. Man has always formed communities. Some become power-mongering ruthless nations of war, and some become centers of enlightenment and peace.

Some communities grow into nations with governments, constitutions, and political parties, while others operate with little structure or law, still maintaining a clear voice and powerful agenda. The more secretive communities and subcultures prefer to operate in silence, keeping their motives and actions in the dark.

Humans are clearly at the top of the chain, but somehow, wolves are able to maintain a stronger  sense of community, we’ll discuss that later on in this article.

Whatever your style is, if you want to build a community, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

 

Formulate Your Personal Vision

  • Create a goal: Not a set of tasks, but a life goal, a vision. It should reflect a universal, comprehensive purpose. What is your purpose?
  • Give it clear structure: This structure is for your own organization, which is powerful. Don’t push this structure onto your followers or they will resent you. Instead guide them subtly by your own actions. If they agree with your destination, they will follow.
  • Believe in it: The vision is the foundation, if it’s weak, it’ll crumble and take down everything else with it. You have to believe and build your own source of motivation – read more about that in “The Science of Motivation”.

 

Get Their Attention

  • Words are powerful: Use them sparingly and wisely. Simply leading by example doesn’t cut it – you have to communicate that you want to help. Pay attention to the wording – you want to help. That’s what people are looking for. Not a manager, not a CEO, not a business executive. Those are for profit building companies, not communities.
  • Make your vision relevant: People don’t follow other people’s visions, they follow their own. Keep your personal vision specific, but in communication, make it vague enough for individuals to form their own vision within the format you lay out.
  • Give direction: That doesn’t mean bark orders. Leaders are like maps, people look to them to get where they want to go. Find people who want to go where you are going, then show them how to get there.
  • Make a Promise: Promises need to be fulfilled, or your community will become disillusioned. Start with small, clear promises that you know you can follow through on, and do it. Each fulfilled promise will build trust and credibility.

 

Be Authentic and Show it Through Action

  • Communicate simply, but with passion: Don’t try to impress people, that will come off inhuman and unauthentic – speak like you are in a normal conversation with your friends, and speak what you know is the truth.
  • Respond: To questions, concerns, and feedback they have for you quickly and genuinely. This shows that you think they are important (As well you should, they’re your community).
  • Above all, take action: to accomplish your communities goals, and make sure everyone sees it.

 

Be Vulnerable

Being vulnerable is a hard thing for some of us. But very necessary. Think about a pack of wolves – their community is tightly knit. It is impenetrable, dutifully loyal, and ordered. They have stronger communities than humans because of the vulnerability they show. Think about it. When a wolf rolls on its back to submit to the Alpha, it is exposing its most vital parts – its belly, its groin, its throat. Its saying ‘I’m trusting you with my life – you can kill me easily right now, but I trust you not to’. And when the other wolf refrains from doing the other wolf in, a vital reinforcement of trust and loyalty takes place.

You can only receive the level of vulnerability you show. That’s not necessarily to say you need to entrust your life to people, unless that’s what you expect from them. Vulnerability breeds trust. Trust and Loyalty is the glue that holds your community together.

12 Comments

  1. Jim January 31, 2013 at 6:10 am #

    This post is good! Thanks, been thinking about building an online community, I’d like to like to hear more specifics about types of communities, say: forums, blogs, etc., or offline tribes (non profit organizations, investment clubs, etc.).

    Good article!

    -Jim

    Reply

  2. Jon January 31, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    Good points. Keep up the good writing, lovin it.

    Reply

  3. Megalo January 31, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    Interesting. I was so stressed out this morning I skipped breakfast. This article actually kind of cheered me up – great info.

    Reply

  4. Xiahou January 31, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    Excellent!

    “Many people together won’t fear a tiger, and many dogs together won’t fear a wolf.”

    -Chinese Proverb

    Reply

    • Megalo January 31, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

      Good quote.

      Reply

      • jrueff January 31, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

        Second that.

        Reply

  5. Kevin H. February 1, 2013 at 3:34 pm #

    I liked the part about making promises and fulfilling them to gain trust, that’s very true – I’ve had so many bosses and so called “leaders” who worked so hard but could never gain trust because of failure to follow through… Could have been a lack of vulnerability too now that I think about it.

    Reply

  6. Will February 1, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    Not bad but missing a couple key points –

    1. Wolves maintain their pack through a clearly established hierarchy – there are Alphas, and the rest follow.
    2. Your observation about vulnerability I think is good, but it takes away from the the main purpose of that show vulnerability – submission to authority.

    Without this submission, the pack would fail, and a system of anarchy would take place.

    Reply

  7. irishroverpei February 9, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    Thanks for visiting and following my blog, I prefer to be a voice in the wilderness rather than part of wolf pack. Such packs have been almost wiped out across this great land.

    Reply

  8. thesofasurfa June 5, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    When I first decided to start my simple blog it was merely a way for me to openly express myself in the public domain but your post has made me realise that I do have some strong values and beliefs, and interests that other people may relate to, which may subsequently lead to small following/community of like-minded people. I feel that authenticity and conveying your passion/s is critical! A fake will always get exposed and pretend passion can’t last.

    Reply

    • Josh June 12, 2013 at 7:08 am #

      Amen to that (: Great points as always, and you certainly do! Man I’ve been busy (trying to get into the habit of polyphasic sleep), but looking forward to reading your latest – thanks for the comment!

      Reply

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