Five triggers that make someone join and stay in a community.
Over the course of my career, I’ve spent a lot of time building communities or products that can facilitate meaningful and tangible connections at scale. When I joined, NASSCOM 10K startups in 2013, my life became all about connecting people, as a result, my community building skills pallet has been refined with data, and practical experience. Now I think of a community as any other product that needs to serve a purpose for its members (one human at a time) to make that tribe relevant for one another.
There needs to be a reason to join the community, a reason that makes you a better version of yourself, nobody joins a community only to access likeminded people, events, tools or resources, those are good to have things!
What are the reasons that one would care enough to be part of yet another group that’s getting formed?
The reason isn’t that of making more money, doing some extra business, finding new customers, hiring talent or just networking, that reason is a feeling that comes wrapped in all of the above tangentially. It’s a feeling of belongingness, a culture that celebrates you, surprises that make things happen when you least expect it, a pocket size friction free way where everyone can be themselves and a place where conversations are free flowing with no judgement on status, fear of performance or power play.
Humans join communities to gain personal status, belongingness and a sense of common purpose.
Big word, sure! What leads to belonging? - it’s the comfort that helps to forge a connection that leads to contribution, and the flywheel emerges.
Now comfort doesn’t just come by making an individual feel valued and treated fairly by having an inclusive work environment. That’s a must have, I mean that’s how people should be in general. Comfort comes with recognizing micro-contributions towards shared meaningful outcomes of a group. It is important to understand how everyone’s unique strengths are helping the broader community, a small team or the overall organization to achieve common goals. I’ll try to simplify this, if a person can use their existing skills or knowledge to do something for the larger group in the short term, without the fear of failure, helps them feel comfortably confident when they get seen to forge a meaningful dialogue and contribute more again.
2. Exclusivity, being pursued & celebrated
Chasing someone or being chased is a thrill, in a good way. It shouldn’t be creepy at all. That intentional & humble chase validates our self-worth. I believe we all have the desire to be pursued. To be “sought after” and worth someone wanting to get to know us, work with us, and appreciate us.
I recall once an engineer told me, I don’t like emails from recruiters, and I asked why did you put your email out in public then? He said, it’s good to know what people value me for or think about my work. He further added, nobody hates reading those very well crafted personalized outreach cold emails. It’s responding to them that takes effort.
3. Care Personally
It is extremely important to balance authority in peer relationships. You need to demonstrate that you “give a damn” about the people you hang out with. Most people do care, but fall down simply because they fail to demonstrate or express it. Open ended questions like, what’s on your mind right now?, how can I help to remove any blockers goes a long long way.
4. Authenticity, with kindness, not nice-ness
It is all about honouring your truth. It’s recognizing when something isn’t working, and being open about why you do what you do. Most people are trying to figure out ‘what’s in it for you’ if you act in a certain way and they make assumptions! To break that pattern of perceived judgement, one needs to be transparent about their actions in a graceful way.
5. Keep it interesting
It is so very easy to fall into routines. A routine of activities that bring certainty of outcomes. And while there is a knowing comfort and familiarity that comes with routine, it can often be the beginning of the end for even the most beautiful relationships. Your community needs the constant fresh stream of new ideas, perspectives and feelings that happens when each of you is allow to live and breathe as the separate individuals you truly are and yet contribute to the shared objectives.