Here we are in the beginning of 2021, and it’s been almost a year since we’ve been able to gather safely. While there are a handful of core value propositions to events - namely, increased brand awareness and increased market share - I would argue that one of those most often overlooked is community building. When a common interest brings people to a singular space, community is bound to build, and from that, anything is possible.
So how should we go about building a community these days? While there’s hope that we may be able to gather in person in the next year, it’s important that we lay the groundwork today. Read on for some core tenants of building a community in an age of remote...everything:
Build a community around a common interest
There are two options for how a community will form: Either an existing group of people with a shared interest will band together and invite others, or one person will tap into an existing gap that people flock to. Neither option is right nor wrong. In fact, their core is the same: folks with a common interest have a need to find others who share in the same. Which option feels the most organic to you? Which option will help you achieve the community you are after? Either way, it’s time to start seeking out others with shared passions.
Create legitimacy in content and activities
Once you have a group, content becomes king. Creating moments for engagement - be it with an idea, a shared project, or a webinar - is vital because it gives group members a jumping off point to connect with each other. Prior to 2020, this may have looked like a presentation followed by a happy hour. But, in a time when in-person events aren’t feasible, it’s the organizer’s responsibility to create a spark and then a space for conversation to flow. This will look different for every community, so consider how best for your group to “gather.”
Market and promote your community
Your community is great, right? Time to shout it from the rooftops. Try posting your online events or engagements to event boards, and always be on the lookout for potential new members. Want to take it a step further? Craft a short elevator pitch that will act as a catalyst for conversations about your community.
Be deliberate in the community culture
Have you ever noticed that offices are full of suits when the boss wears them, or that organizations tend to be more casual when management is also casual? Because organizational leadership sets the tone, you need to determine the defining attributes of your group and then walk the walk. Aim to create an inclusive space where all feel welcome and where culture is a topic of conversation. Transparency is your best friend here, so set culture guidelines and goals early.
Emphasize your members’ needs
Every community is different, and what may work brilliantly for one organization may bomb in another. The easiest way to know what your community craves is to ask them, and then make their feedback actionable. If there’s group buy-in, your members will be invested in both maintaining engagement and creating a value proposition to entice future members.
Empower members to grow the group organically
A solid community frequently takes on a life of its own. It grows and evolves with changing markets, perspectives, and technologies. When folks enjoy and benefit from being part of a group, they are driven to bring in their network.
Given the key learnings of the last 12 months, 2021 is ripe with opportunity to create new and unique groups. It’s time to foster and expand existing communities, so now is the time to ask yourself: How will you build community in a remote age?