In my previous installment, I described some points of failure for Door64 version 1, including lack of focus on the problem(s) to be solved. Solving problems for potential members creates value in exchange for their engagement.
Another cause of failure was a lack of vision for the desired outcomes of my endeavor. People do not engage meaningfully without a sense of purpose, and engagement within a community is what solves the problem(s) for participants.
As I had described, I observed a problem: Austin-area engineers were not networked with each other. Given that, the question is: if they did network, what are the desired outcomes? What changes in Austin’s technology community should I expect? By not having a long-term vision of success, I could not hope to convey the “WHY” to potential members. WHY should someone get involved with my initiative? Without the vision…the WHY, it’s impossible to sell engagement. If a tour guide can’t say where he’s headed, why would anyone join him on the expedition?
A community vision is the anticipated impact of your community when it grows to be successful at addressing the individual members’ problems. Again, at the individual member level, the desired outcome is solving his/her problem through engagement. Now follow the dominoes: How is the problem solved? What other problems may be impacted by your community? What are all the possible benefits of participating to individual members, the community as a whole, and to those external to the community? If you cannot define the impact…if you lack vision, you — the community builder — will lack the passion to follow through with growing the community.
As a community builder, passion is your drive to realize your community vision. First, you have to know where you’re driving towards; that’s the community vision. Now, if you are genuinely sold-out to see the vision realized and problem(s) solved, your passion will come naturally. In my endeavor, I initially believed that local engineers should be connected. However, it wasn’t until I really grasped a vision for the future of the Austin technology community at large that I became truly passionate about my initiative.
How can you tell that I am passionate about my vision? Well for one thing, I can easily talk your ear off about it! No one has to force me to share my vision for Austin’s technology community, nor persuade me to spend time working towards that vision. I am Door64’s biggest cheerleader, and I work to make an impact. That passion attracts like-minded people — people who have caught that same vision. You won’t have to beg people to join, but rather filter who gets to be on board. And with proper care and cultivation, you can experience a growing community of people who share your vision and passion.