Community is a special force. Unlike any other connection tool, it offers understanding, hope, change, choice and connection. It has the power to unite people with a common cause, experience or goal. Most of all it offers belonging. And that’s something we as humans are hard wired to seek out.
Whether it’s a group of Japanese car enthusiasts, a coming together of residents of a town or a community like Parenting Mental Health supporting parents of young people with mental health issues, we all want to connect, contribute, be seen, be heard.
But community requires authenticity or it won’t work or grow. It requires openness, understanding and a framework that allows people to feel safe and valued. And it requires commitment and consistency.
I’ve built communities for the past decade – from groups for clients who wanted to bring their customers together, to communities of interest around self development and of purpose and need, like Parenting Mental Health.
And it’s not just as simple as clicking Create on Facebook or adding contacts on WhatsApp. Community leadership is an art and a science, and the community leaders I have met are a special breed. Focussed on convening people to help them, they are driven to create and defend the spaces they steward, while being some of the most compassionate and sensitive people I know.
It’s a joy to see community being taken seriously as a method of communication as well as connection. From the foundations of why communities are so important to so many of us – connection, purpose and belonging – digital communities are bringing information and service to people in a way that traditional methods can’t. Communities are doing vital work at a time when public resources are stretched and demand is increasing, but they need resourcing and recognition to be able to make the kind of impact they’re capable of.
I work with public and private sector organisations to help them understand the role of community in encouraging change, driving engagement and making a case for using community structures to support new initiatives.
If you’re looking to develop communities as part of your engagement strategy or improve impact and connection, get in touch for a chat.
The Facebook Certified Community Manager certification is awarded to candidates who demonstrate a foundational proficiency in community-building strategies, and knowledge of the skills and tools needed to lead, moderate, and engage an online community.