United we stand, divided we fall. We’re sure none of you would have any objections agreeing to this. Well, when this is the open truth of the hour, we believe being part of a community that shares the same interests gives us the best opportunity at being united and achieving the desired objectives.

Communities play an extremely important role in providing effective solutions to various objectives including but not limited to social causes, networking and finding answers from different perspectives.

HelloMeets is also a community driven startup that enables people to come together via offline meet-ups and workshops and help each other level up their skills. We feel privileged to have had Carrie Melissa Jones join us for an AMA on Community Building.

Carrie, a community strategist with over 15 years of experience and an advisor at CMX (formerly COO and Founding Partner at CMX)— the world’s largest community hub where they’ve trained community builders from companies like Airbnb, Apple, Facebook, Google & SendGrid answered various questions put forth by our community members through a Facebook Live session.

Some questions from the session that might help you become a better community builder:

What are some of the best practices for online community building? (question put forth by Praveen Drona, Co-founder at StartupByte)

Some tips suggested by Carrie:

  • Start with the business objective
  • Proceed slowly and diligently by taking one step at a time to build the community
  • Continuously seek feedback to improve — take feedback as constructive criticism
  • Do your research and do not go by the gut
  • Get on the phone/Skype/any mode of communication to get insights into understanding what matters to your target group and meet them where they’re at
  • Give a damn! It’s not really about you and your business. It’s about what people are going to get from being a part of the community
  • Finally, create rituals (something most communities don’t do). When we look outside of our cultures and try to connect globally, there’s no global ritual. Build your own community rituals, be it something as small as a Monday morning welcome post or celebrating someone’s promotion. Celebrate things and create moments that matter.
For example: David Spinks, CEO of CMX welcomes all the new members on their Facebook group every Monday morning.

Some suggested reads for community builders:

As a community builder, what are the 5 most important things to keep in mind? ( Asked by Ayushi Mohindra, Marketing at HelloMeets)

  • Be patient. A community is not built in a day
  • Be persistent
  • Take care of yourself
  • Believe in the good in people
  • Technology doesn’t matter, stay agile and keep ready to make the switch

How do you monetize communities dedicated to students and social causes? (question put forth by Amrith Shanbhag, Community Intern at Product Hunt)

  • Dive into research
  • The truth is there is not too much money you can make while catering to these segments
  • One effective way would be to create deep values in order to monetize
  • Monetise the offering and build a community around the offering to enhance the value of the offering

Companies to look up for this:

Magoosh — Magoosh Community: Student Experiences. There are 64,597 Magooshers in over 150 countries!

Course Hero — Your Essential Guide to Campus Ambassador Programs: 10 Takeaways from Course Hero’s Story

How do you engage your community in a way that makes them feel recognised and seen? (question put forth by Pawan Gupta, Cofounder at Curofy, India’s largest community of verified doctors)

  • Make people feel special with giveaways that would make them feel recognized. For example: hand written cards
  • Do something personal and do not worry too much about the instantaneous ROI
  • Same could be adopted for offline communities. You could give every attendee a thank you note. Basically something non attendees wouldn’t get.
  • In short, create moments. At CMX, we started giving hugs when people used to enter our events.

How to build sustainable communities?

Do not rush. Write out your communication strategy to create an impact that will not just fade away after a quick spike in activity.

Here are a list of things you must focus upon:

You can download a Community Strategy Canvas template from: www.cmxhub.com)

Can you share interesting ways to collect feedback after an event? (Asked by Sahiba Sethi, Founder & Community Builder, HelloMeets)

  • Give them scope to express their negative feelings.
  • Do it through short paper surveys at the event.

7 Steps to Create Effective Surveys and Collect Community Feedback By Donal O’Conghaile

What tips can you give to shy people and new comers in the community?

  • Have a structured event like an ice breaker at the beginning in order to get people to participate as quickly as possible.
  • Be okay with people who do not want to participate because they’re attending the event to derive value and this is in turn adding value to your community
  • Rituals
  • One on ones — Buddy programs can work really well to engage the shy lot of people

For example: Revamping your welcome ritual by including a buddy in place might just set the right tone. That way they would feel more comfortable.

Towards the end of the session, one of the shy members of the HelloMeets community commented, “ I had an amazing journey at HelloMeets from being the most shy individual to a community builder. It’s about taking the initiative and coming forward to face your fears.”

In response to the comment Carrie Melissa Jones said, “Absolutely! If you know that you’re an introvert or that you’re shy, one of the most powerful things you can do is get out of the comfort zone and push your limits just a little bit. What typically happens is that you grow by pushing your limits. This is what communities can do for us. They create a safe space where you can explore and go past them. If we can breakthrough, it’s great and then we can all party together. If it’s not so great, you can stick back and still feel safe.Carrie ended the session with an advice to all the startups. She mentioned the importance of community building and the need to have one, irrespective of the product/service that the company is all about. She also believes that the founder is the best community manager to kick start and build the community.

Hope this was an helpful for you!! 😀 To stay updated about our upcoming AMAs and events, subscribe here: www.hellomeets.com

Blog credits: Nikita Veerabhadraiah, Marketer