Communities define our sense of place and help us recognize that we belong. By being a part of a group, you are encouraged to connect and share through face-to-face interactions.
Thriving communities have the power to energize entire groups of people and foster lifelong connections.
In this post, I’ll share my experience with building a community and give you the tools to help you start your own.
Find a need and start building
I thankfully didn’t have to do my transition from college grad to a full-time product designer alone. I started my first day of work with a cohort of talented designers who I now call friends.
Early on, I started noticing a trend amongst my new friends; they wanted a creative outlet to offset the technical design work they were doing.
I saw a need and started Spare Time, a monthly workshop series to promote creativity using analog processes. These workshops are lead by members of the community and range from DIY Dream Catchers to Knitting 101.
As Spare Time grew, other smaller communities started to pop up like Daily Sticky, a popular Slack group for sticky note doodles. These smaller communities were an unplanned but an exciting and welcomed outcome.
Market & promote your community
You’ve found a need, and you’re building your community around it. Great! Now you’re ready to start spreading the word because you can’t grow without members.
Use your promotional material as an opportunity to have some fun. When I started Spare Time, I designed posters and hung them around the office. I also tapped into existing online Slack communities and created a Spare Time channel to keep the group members updated.
Another great way to market and promote your community is through a monthly newsletter. In this newsletter, you can include updates, upcoming events, photos from your community’s Instagram, and more.
Empower your members
Your community will only last as long as its members do, and that includes you. You’re going to need some help as you scale and gain more traction.
By empowering your members, you give them a seat at the table and allow them to make decisions.
Spare Time grew to over five cities, including San Francisco and New York. In those cities, I picked one trusted member from the community to become a Spare Time host. These hosts would be in charge of running the Spare Time workshops in their home city.
Get out there and start building your community!
Building and leading a community isn’t easy, but the payoff is always worth the hard work. Start small and experiment! See what works.
As you move forward, remember these three steps: find a need, get the word out, and empower your members. Before you know it, you’ll have a thriving community that matters.