How to Create a Sense of Community

And, how to keep it thriving

Some basic concepts exist to create a sense of community. I am fascinated by communities, how they work and why people are drawn to them. There has to be something more than a “feel good” feeling that pulls people together and keeps them coming back for more. It’s kind of like a pep rally before a big game. It’s a high energy, high engagement fun place to be.

Doctor David McMillan, psychologist and community building giant suggests community centers around three L’s.

  1. Listen
  2. Love
  3. Learn

Listen

People will gather in places if they believe someone is listening. When ears listen, instead of listening to respond, people begin to share their stories and part of themselves. People share of themselves and you get to know them. Listen and participate in their story, their lives. It’s a powerful connection.

Love

People want to be loved, even if they feel unworthy of receiving love and they want to feel safe. Sometimes they want to heal. None of these things happen without trust. When people trust they can share, then they can hear and improve.

Learn

Learning takes place when the above components are in place. It’s an integration that creates a sense of community and people are drawn in to give and receive support.

Psychologists McMillan & Chavis boil a sense of community down to one sentence:

“Sense of community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met through their commitment to be together”.

A sense of community also involves…

Membership

Boundaries help people feel like they belong. Let’s call them commonalities of what’s acceptable and what’s not. People need to feel safe without safety or privacy of an online community no one shares. Think of it like a counselor’s office. Talking stops or becomes a whisper when the door is open. Trust happens when the door is closed. There also needs to be a personal investment. Maybe it’s a monetary pledge, a contribution, or even more simple like engagement in the community.

Influence

Influence happens when people matter. They have to feel important. When they show up to a community they want to know they will be noticed. And, it’s a two-way street, they also need to notice and validate others.

Fulfilling needs

Needs get fulfilled naturally when people care about each other. It’s not complicated. People show up tell, share something of themselves, become members, and get and receive influence. It’s the next natural step, to fulfill each other’s needs. People in community acknowledge each others’ needs and values.

Shared emotional connection

The easiest way for people to establish a shared emotional connection is to have a common goal. Community is everywhere and it’s not niche specific. If it’s a group of health enthusiasts they likely share health tips, tricks, products, and anything health related. If it’s a group of writers they share their words and support each other. If it’s business owners they share tips on keeping their employees happy and fulfilling their customer’s needs.

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connects us with our fellow men”-Herman Melville

Everyone needs community. It’s a place of belonging and it’s more difficult to create. How do you create a community? Comment with your response.

Know someone who needs help creating community? Please share this with them.

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