How Community Works (It's Not Magic)

Sometimes we think that community "just happens." It doesn't. A lot of work and intention go into making it happen.

I am just back from Seattle after attending Schoolhouse Craft put on by #ahasmember Isaac of Maker's Nation. I had asked Isaac how I could support him putting on this conference, which would be his first year doing so.

I was prepared to sponsor, but then he gave me the opportunity to teach a class. In prepping I was so focused on teaching the class that my mind wasn't even thinking about how much community would be involved. I had thought I would have all of this time to do work and it would be like my life at home only with these couple hours given to teaching and maybe listening to a couple other speakers.

KC and I at the AHAS Awards Show with #ahasmember and Handmade Community Superstar recipient Miriam Dema.

KC and I at the AHAS Awards Show with #ahasmember and Handmade Community Superstar recipient Miriam Dema.

The community aspect was not on my radar but yet that was the best thing that came out of it. I got to see ladies I already know, like #ahasmembers Katie of Tradeshow Bootcamp and Caitlin Bacher. But I got to grow a friendship with Isaac (who I knew from the internets and a couple phone calls) and connect with inspiring ladies like Tara Swiger and Kim Werker who I only had very loosely connected with before online.

And here's the thing, these connections were made because I said yes to going out to dinner with people and hanging out together after "official business" was over. And I said no to getting every single thing done on my to-do list.

This is what I want you to know about the community we offer, it does not happen without you. Specifically, it doesn't happen unless everyone:

  • Contributes: This is not just monetary contribution, though we wouldn't be able to know that what we offer will be her in five years let alone five weeks if didn't know we had an operating budget to make that happen. But contributing also looks like making things happen, giving ideas and suggestions and creating infrastructure for better connections. It will look different how everyone can do it because contributing comes from talents and skills unique to you.
  • Participates: You can have the best plans for events or other programming, but if no one participates community does not happen. 
  • Is Open: Like I shared in my story above, I had to be open to community coming my way and what that looked like. It wasn't for me to dictate it and so it meant I had to say no to some plans or rearrange my schedule where I could. 

We just announced that Nessa of LaLa's Party will be our "Online Chapter" (in quotes, because everyone is in that chapter... haha!) Leader.

So, have I scared the crap out of you about community? Am I making you nervous? If I haven't completely, you can find more details about membership here.

How do you plan to build community for your business?