Building Communities as the Saying Goes…

As I wrote in the final part of the Roadmap to SCRM series, we are plunging into an era of community participation.

Communities are so much more than the traditional forum-like model.  It is necessary to build good communities to get value and a return on the investment you put into it.

There are plenty of common wisdom sayings we use in our everyday life to guide and explain our actions.  I have found three popular sayings that apply to community building that can be used as rule of thumb.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king

I know this will come as a shocker, but there are lots of charlatans and “snake oil salespeople” out there.  People who not only don’t have experience and knowledge but they say with such authority and conviction that you are tempted to believe them. Alas, if you go beyond the soundbite there is no substance, no value.

These are the people that hurt a community the most since they tend to throw themselves into the role of leader or super-users.  I wrote before that communities are self-policed and self-managed, but when the community is too small it is hard to spot and “control” these charlatans.

Avoid if you can these people.  Until we have a reputation system based on more than noise made and buzzword compliance, demand and expect credentials to back up everything said.  Just because anyone can get a twitter account or a blog, does not mean they deserve to be heard.

Provide Sex Education, not Sex Training

This is a deviation from the Chinese-attributed story of teaching a man to fish versus giving them food.  This adaptation was first uttered, that I heard, by Mike Muhney in a webinar I attended – and I think it is a brilliant way to describe what your communities should be about.

Even in support communities you have to ensure that all members learn and grow.  The purpose of being a member of any community is to grow by sharing.  However, the growth should not be tactical (training), but rather methodical (education). Would you prefer that I solve your technical problem today, or that I teach you how to solve them yourself next time?

Good communities are made of people who want to extend their knowledge and both learn as well as impart valuable lessons.

A rolling stone gathers no moss

I wrote in my roadmap to SCRM series that communities are created and dismantled in short term, few of them live to be long-term.  Don’t be afraid to participate in different communities, to expand or contract them as the purpose is served or changes.

Keeping constantly moving is a way to ensure that you learn, grow, and reach new people for the different communities in which you participate.  You benefit yourself and others by cross-pollinating and frequenting different communities, by inviting new members in your communities.

Make sure to take advantage of that.

What are your favorite sayings to describe – well, anything and everything you do?  Are mine off the mark?  What do you use as your rule-of-thumb to build your online presence?