When Loic Le Meur asked me last year to come to Paris and speak at his LeWeb Conference, I admit to being honored beyond belief. LeWeb is one of the premiere conferences anywhere in the world, and it’s held in beautiful Paris. When I found out that Queen Rania Al Abdullah was also speaking, I broke out into a cold sweat. This was serious business, folks. The people who attend this event are hard-core. They are THE movers and shakers in our world. They are smart – passionate – dedicated. Loic is their leader, and I hoped only to make an impact on the crowd in some small way.
Loic asked me to speak about building communities, something which I have been doing online since 1992. This is where my passion lies. This is what I am dedicated to. I walked onto the stage with the hope that the things I have learned along the way would help someone in their journey. I became so filled with the enthusiasm around me that I walked off that stage with my head held high. I feel as though I gave one of the best presentations of my life… not because someone told me so, but because I know that I believed in everything I said.
When you are going to speak to an audience – no matter how large or small – don’t talk at them. Talk WITH them. Yes, you need to tell them whatever it is you know. Of course you’re going to try to win them over to your side. But you still have to actually have a conversation with them… much as you do when you are trying to build a community.
Community comes from inside of you. The tools and platforms available are simply that: tools and platforms. They are not the community. Bring people together and give them the tools to connect to each other and then watch as leaders emerge from within. Talk to them. Work with them. Learn about them and grow with them.
Remember that building a community is not about connecting people to you. It’s about connecting them to each other.