What Are You Bringing to the Block Party?
I want to share with you an analogy that has come up for me many times in the past few years, whether it’s during job interviews or simply when discussing my philosophy on Community Management with my superiors, peers, or co-workers.
If you’ve read my “About” page, you’ll note that I call myself an “enabler.” That’s just my take on how to do Community Management. There are many approaches. I know some who focus heavily on content generation, and I myself have focused heavily on that in past jobs. But I really feel that community management is at it’s best when it’s about enabling and empowering the community to build itself up organically. When you remove yourself as the bottleneck to community growth, it will be allowed to flourish.
I see it this way – a developer, or publisher, or Community Manager has to act as a government would, and the community will act as a neighborhood naturally would. Community Managers should strive to provide good metaphorical roads, well lit sidewalks, and nice parks for people to congregate in. Make it safe for people to come out of their homes. Once that job is accomplished, it’s the people within the neighborhood who will build the community.
From there, it’s just about working with the natural community leaders that emerge to ensure that you’re providing for their needs. If a sewage pipe breaks, fix it quickly. If there are miscreants hanging out on the corner, have them removed. But whatever you do, don’t force people to go through you to connect with each other. Don’t make them wait for permits to talk over the fence to each other. There are generally not enough people on the development side to control every conversation, to listen to every whisper, and to cook every dish for the local block party. Leave that stuff up to the neighbors. Which brings me to the neighbors themselves – their part in this whole setup is to look out for one another. To have friends over for dinner, to watch their neighbors house when they go out of town, and to bring something unique and tasty to the next block party.
So what are you bringing?