Some tips I gathered from the Thin Air Summit:
- A first step to creating a community is to be a part of a community. It’s easier to join a conversation than to start one. Participate by leaving comments on other blogs. Rather than being an island by focusing solely on your own blog, exercise your voice in the larger conversation of the blogosphere. (My thanks to Amy Gahran and Dave Taylor for driving home this point. I’ve been particularly bad on this.)
- With transparency comes credibility. Declare your biases up front. Chris Menning, provides a nice commentary on this point, in reporting on a presentation, Traditional vs. Social Media: New Ways to Report What We See on Day 2 of the conference.
- Creating a community is a journey. I learned a new term from one of the presenters, Mark Linder, who has been podcasting for over four years: podfading. It refers to what happens to lots of blogs and podcasts–excitement and lots of activity at the beginning, only to be followed by a fading away of posts. I’m guilty of this with my efforts to build a community around whole brain thinking and boundary crossing. Make sure that whatever means you use to build your community (e.g., blogging, in-person meetings, regular teleconferences), you pick something that’s sustainable.
- Your community is wherever they are, not where you are.
As you build your eco-system, add “outposts” to your blog where kindred spirits can find you (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Plurk.) Online presence means making it easy for others to find you and engage in a conversation, whether it’s on your site or someone else’s.
- Corollary to Tip #4: Meet your audience where they are, not just literally, but figuratively. After Dave Taylor’s keynote, a blogger in the audience commented that, “My readers wonder about these buttons–StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit.” The person was asking what to do with readers who don’t understand how to use technology found on blogs, like social bookmarking tools. Dave’s response: Pick one or two of these tools and explain them well. You don’t need three versions of a social bookmarking tool. You just need one that is well-understood. I love this quote from Dave: “How accessible are you making your voice?”
This last point is probably best directed to me, and the rest of the A Bigger Voice team. During the Thin Air Summit, I noticed that it’s easy to get comfortable in a bubble of early adopters who “get you.” Likewise, after working for months with consultants who understand the concepts around A Bigger Voice, it’s seductive to believe that everyone speaks the same language, including readers of this blog.
Call me on it, would you please? Let me know when my voice is no longer accessible, when I’ve gone off the deep end, fascinated by the new concept or idea but not very useful to you, the reader.