Happy Interdependence Day
A community is forming in this little outpost called RecruitingBlogs.com. Somehow, the space is overcoming its very name. Imagine trying to sell houses in a town called "Ya Gotta Be A Writer To Live Here".
While the moniker implies one kind of involvement, the reality is quite different. RecruitingBlogs.com (RBC) is a place for experimentation. Its inhabitants are trying new things every day.
The first experiment is the one Dave Mendoza calls "Recruiters helping each other". The visible interactions are just the surface of the community. Over time, RBC has become a place where relationships are nourished and support provided. When I walk across the Denver prairie with a friend I made here; when I spend an hour on the phone generating some business advice for an RBC colleague; or, when I discuss the merits of this prospect or that I am immersed in the RBC mutual aid society.
The second kind of experiment involves community itself. Paul DeBettingies is doing some amazing things. He is methodically exploding the foundation built by the Recruiting Roadshow's first event in Minneapolis. Once the seed of a network is established, it is possible to grow it with the various tools of social networking. Like any toolset, you use different tools for different objectives. Paul is successfully experimenting with the tools.
That's the thing about online communities. Once they are established, they can be cultivated and developed using a range of approaches. In some circumstances, static content really works. In other cases, the flittering, twittering reality of short burst chat messages really works. Blogging, while not something everyone is interested in, is useful for developing sustained corners of the universe.
That's the trick, really.
First you establish the community. It's not page views or advertising contacts, it's people who work with and talk with each other. Once the community is showing, you use the other tools to build and expand it.
Community requires a balance of stability and change. People feel that they have community when there are predictable landmarks. Sometimes, the grumpier the landmark, the more intoxicating the community. Sometimes the more noble the landmark, the more exciting the community. Each landscape requires its leading figures. Each system has its vetting and membership process..
It is very tempting to jump on the next technology horse that passes your way.
I spent a remarkable day recently at Jason Davis' home in Toronto. He lives within blocks of his father. They live close to his grandfather's house. The kids go to the same school Jason went to. The local Starbucks is a hangout for friends of 40 years.
Jason knows how to build a community because he has lived in one for many generations. Things change slowly in community land. The public trust is won and lost on small issues, not big ones. You should be able to count on RBC to demonstrate community because it is built on other communities.
Community is defined by stability. It moves slowly and lasts a long time.