Five Ways to Build a Thriving Community

My friend Bryan just released a new book on community-building. The guy’s a master at it. He’s been blogging for over a decade and has helped hundreds of people and a few organizations build dedicated audiences around their art.

Build Community
Photo credit: Jayel Aheram (Creative Commons)

So I got to thinking: What lessons have I learned about community-building with this here blog? Here are a few:

  • Building a community isn’t hard, but it takes time.
  • Building a community is what leaders do, so courage is a must.
  • Building a community is all about trust.

Every time I’ve failed at or been frustrated with extending my reach, it’s usually because I’ve compromised one of those values.

Community-building tips

So what does it take to really build a community? Here are five ways to begin:

  1. Identify a common struggle. Everyone has pain or discomfort that they want to go away. Solving a problem (or even just sharing the lessons you’ve learned) is a great way to connect with people.
  2. Be the underdog. We all love rooting for an unlikely hero. When someone who doesn’t have a chance succeeds, anyway, we feel like we’ve succeeded (because we can all relate to being the underdog, sometimes).
  3. Criticize something that’s broken. We all see things in society and culture that don’t work. However, few people have the courage to stand up and say something. If you call out the things that are obviously dysfunctional, you will immediately have an audience, nodding along.
  4. Tell a compelling story. We all love great stories, especially if we can somehow see ourselves as one of the characters. Narrative is what shapes our drives the direction of our lives, so telling a story will immediately capture attention and empathy.
  5. Be generous. This is the very best way to earn people’s attention and trust. Give away your time, resources, and ideas, and you will have fans for life. You don’t have to do this all the time, but doing it once in awhile doesn’t hurt.

Ultimately, this comes down to adding value and helping people. There’s a lot noise in our world, so the best voices get heard by building a platform that isn’t all about them.

In other words: When you make your community about other people, they will make it about you. (Tweet that)

Of course, that’s not the goal of a community, nor should it be the primary motivation for starting one. But it’s a pretty nice byproduct.

Giving and getting from this community

In the spirit of this post, it only seems fair to give you a few opportunities to give and get. Here are a two freebies and a couple opportunities to show your support:

  • Download a free copy of my “How to Start Publishing for Kindle” program (a $47 value). This offer is good only through Nov. 1, 2012. After that, it’ll probably go on sale.
  • Grab a free copy of Community Wins by Bryan Allain (offer good only through Nov. 3, 2012).
  • Buy a copy of The Writer’s Studio, for yourself or a friend. This is an audio program (which includes a copy of my eBook and six writing exercises) that I put together to help anyone get started writing. If you don’t have $20, you can always pick up one of the other eBook packages I have.
  • Sign up for Michael Hyatt’s GET PUBLISHED course. I’m an affiliate for this course, which means if you sign up for this excellent program, I get a nice commission. Act now, though, because today is the last day to get it at a discount.

So there you go. If you appreciate all the advice and content I share here, buying something once in awhile is a great way to show your support (but definitely not required). Regardless, I’m indebted to you.

I want you to know how much I appreciate your attention. It means the world to me. I can’t believe I get to write words every day that thousands of people read. It’s truly an honor. Thank you.

If you’re not already a member of my tribe, why not sign up for free email updates? I occasionally send special offers and deals (including free stuff) you can’t find anywhere else (not even on the blog).

What community-building tips would add to my list? Share in the comments.