Tag Archives: community-building

You Are Never Alone as a Blogger

I had a discussion last night with a long-time prominent blogger. During our conversation, we naturally strayed towards writing and community building, topics with which we are both very familiar. This is someone who puts out extremely high-quality content on a daily basis. He is constantly pushing the limits, drawing in new people with his wisdom, humor and beautiful style. I couldn’t help but ask how the heck he manages to maintain his blog with such consistency year after year. I was quite relieved with the answers given.

I’m not the only person out there in blogger-land who sometimes wonders what the heck I’m doing this for. It’s not only me who feels that it’s insanely difficult to make your voice heard above the crowd, nor am I the first person to think that I must be nuts to keep going. My friend not only experiences these same thoughts and feelings, he pointed to many other well-known writers who are in the same boat. We’re all rowing as hard as we can to reach shore. I’m starting to think, though, that that shoreline shouldn’t be our goal.

Reaching the shore means the end of a journey. I don’t know about you, but I think my trip is still in its early stages. There is so much out there I want to see, do and conquer online, both personally and professionally. Why am I trying so hard to get my feet back on solid ground? I’m not adrift or lost at sea… I’m merely checking out previously uncharted territories to figure out where all I may fit.

Burnout is a common theme amongst us all. Fear of never “making it” haunts each of us on a daily basis. We’re pushing ourselves every day to try and write more, be more creative and stand out. We pretend to be friends with those who we “compete” against instead of creating actual connections and relationships. That needs to end. We are alienating each other instead of developing bonds which will in turn make us stronger.

We shouldn’t be competing with anyone other than ourselves. Blogger A and Writer B can both be wildly successful – even if they write about the exact same thing. There are billions of people online and I’m pretty sure they each visit more than one website. Having real friendships with other writers allows you to stretch your mind in different directions. It can and will open up new possibilities for your writing style and rang of topics. Debating current issues with your peers – whether you’re discussing politics or tech – can strengthen the influence you have with your own readers.

One of the biggest keys to maintaining the level of output we expect of ourselves is to remember that we are not alone.

LeWeb 2009: Building Communities

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.

Building Community From LeWeb 2009

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I’ve been online since 1992, and in an official business capacity in 1996. I’m just me… someone who loves gadgets, technology and communicating. I have always believed that community exists inside of all of us. Wherever we go, our community goes.

If you’re familiar with a Venn Diagram, you’ll understand what I’m about to tell you. It involves circles that cross over at points. There are many facets to the person who is me. Where I live is one circle. The fact that I love coffee is another circle. You’ll have to imagine where those two intersect. There are many pieces of me. So, wherever I go, I will look for people I can identify with. That’s where community is. It’s within me, and wherever I go… community goes. The same holds true for all of you.

Over the years I’ve seen many business models come and go, where they claim they’re going to create a community. That doesn’t happen. You cannot create a community. It’s organic and creates itself. No matter what tools you use, the community will grow. It’s all about the culture around it. It’s the culture that surrounds companies and products that will endure. That’s what builds the community, not the product or service itself.

The things we care about the most don’t only exist on one site. We are spread out all over the place. We don’t have to only hang in one place to feel that sense of belonging… we take our community with us wherever we go.

Community requires a tool that can’t be built – our spirit. We can throw tools online. But if you believe that a community is a tool… then you, yourself, are a tool. It’s what you DO with the tools that counts. The people who show up are the community. A community isn’t a blog, nor a Wiki. It’s all about the people involved, and their spirit.

WE are the community, not the developers who make the tools that allow us to interact!

When you look at the blogs that have “made it”, WHY did they make it? It’s because the person or team driving the blog had something unique to say, in a way that made people sit up and take notice. People’s voices are not a commodity.

How do YOU define community?

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What is Community Building?

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I recently spent some time in Arizona for Podcamp. I was down there to talk specifically about ‘community’, and to facilitate discussion about communities. Both of my discussions went very well. One of the people I met there was Lon, who is working on writing a book. He’s asked me several questions that I will answer in a private interview. But I thought I would answer them in a general way for all of you, my community.

  • What is ‘community building’, exactly? – I would define it as the act of creating some kind of rally point on the Internet. You then feed it not only people, but with various tools to allow people to collaborate together. It’s much like planting a garden. You have rows of different fruits and vegetables. Each of those rows has its own flavor, but people can visit your garden and partake in the fruits of your labor. A community is much the same concept. Each row is a differrent type of experience. You have various and sundry things a user can do. Community building is much the same as gardening… you feed, you water, you nurture.
  • Why is community building important? – Using the garden example again – you can’t just throw seeds at the ground and expect they will grow. Community building is important. Without the experience of fostering the development, you have basically nothing. You have to have drive and passion to really make it work. I’m seriously grateful to everyone who helps me to keep my communities running and growing. Of course, there’s Kat, my #1 gal who keeps me in line… and everyone else! There are so many others who are a part of both Lockergnome and Geeks that I couldn’t run things without. The Geeks Moderators… the IRC channel moderators… and the Lockergnome admins: You guys are awesome. Thank you for everything you do.
  • How did you use community building to build your community? – For me, each time I build something new, I start from scratch. No two communities can or should be alike. Some days, I participate more than on other days. I take the approach of seeing what all of you are all about. I really wanted to find out more about everyone who has been a part of my live community. I wanted to see if we could come together, and get to know each other on another level. Therefore, I created Geeks.
  • How would you recommend someone get started in building their own community? – It starts not just with a passion you might have. It starts with what you’re good at. What are you good at? Are you good at writing… sitting in front of a camera or mic… or taking pictures? What media do you excel at (or love) the most? Have a passion, choose a medium you are good at… and just go. Also remember to involve your audience (community members) as much as possible. That is the key element to making your garden grow.
  • What would be the most important things someone should – and shouldn’t – do when building a community? – You remember the novel “Of Mice and Men”? You know when he loved the puppy so much he squeezed it too hard, and it died? That’s what you don’t want to do. Don’t be too overbearing. Don’t strangle your community by trying to squeeze it so tightly. Don’t limit and constrict it. Guide and shape your community, and let it grow on its own. Let the people dictate how it grows.
  • Can you think of any business success stories you can share that deal with building communities? – That’s a difficult community, because everyone has a different business model. Each business and owner has a different idea as to what their community should be, and why. I’m going to use Microsoft as a prime example. I don’t know of another company that has been prolific in blogging, and encourages their employees to blog, as well. They’re so free with that information, that it creates a compelling experience.

People ask me ‘where does community exist?’. The answer to that is – community exists within you.


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