The Idea Dude


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So you want to build a community

Tealeaf and I went to a new restaurant for lunch yesterday. We hesitated for a bit outside two restaurants and picked one. As we entered, we were greeted by a portly lady with a beaming smile. "You've made the right choice! guaranteed". She never stopped smiling, hustled by our table a couple of times, joking and laughing.

Here's the rub. The food wasn't great but Tealeaf and I spent a long time there without realizing it, somehow it felt warm and friendly. The food wasn't great, would we go back? Probably, if only to give our smiling host a second chance. In fact we almost didn't mind that the food wasn't great...

Building communities is all about heart. The rest are props, the website, the features, the content. They are the oxygen but far from being the meaning of life. MySpace had Tom, whether you liked him or not, he was your first friend. MySpace remembered it was always about the people and they made space for the conversation, any conversation. People felt comfortable, they wanted it to be their home. Then 100 million people signed up and it felt like shopping at Walmart, not like that little store where they personally helped you pick your clothes and made you feel special.

It's always about the people, it's always about the heart

Whether it's for business or for pleasure, it is the rage of the day. Building a community that is. Techcrunch reports over 100,000 communities were built on Ning. With a click of a button you can have a website with all the right curves, pictures of people and relevant content. You spend money on SEO and PPC. You built it...

and they didn't come

Because nobody told you...

  • Communities are built on relationships
  • Building real relationships takes time
  • Building communities require catalysts, champions, hosts
  • Communities want to see the faces of the people who run them

If you're building community, who is your friendly, smiling host? The one that knows your name and you know his or hers? And sometimes, when you're down, they may even surprise you and skype you with a simple, "can we talk?".

Online communities are like bars. They all serve pretty much the same beverages, some are slicker than others. But what draws you to that one around the corner that you walk an extra 4 blocks for, the one where the tables are old and the bartender even older.

It's the place where everybody knows your name

Hi, my name is Vernon, I am The Idea Dude, what's your name?


Blogger Amanda said...

Another inspiring and insightful post. I love it! Are you in Canada? Do they celebrate Thanksgiving there?

8:38 AM  
Blogger The Idea Dude said...

Thanks Amanda.

Yes, I'm in Canada and it's snowing today!

We celebrate Thanksgiving a few weeks earlier in Canada. It's also called Thanksgiving but it's because it celebrates the end of the harvest season.


11:25 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Interesting. I would have never known that the Thanksgiving in Canada was actually a different one. Thanks.

I'm envious of your SNOW!!!

6:27 PM  
Blogger anetto said...

You might not be if you needed to get snow tires. And then there's storage of the non snow tires.

9:37 PM  
Blogger The Idea Dude said...

<LOL> I am in need of a set of snow tires this winter too! I guess that's an upgrade from socks for Christmas.

Yeah, snow is all about context. I love snow when I'm on the ski slopes with my kids. But it's not that much fun when you need to shovel the driveway and you're late for work!

My kids fortunately haven't reached that sense of reality yet. They were overjoyed today and the fruits of their labour can be seen as a stack of snowballs on my front lawn. :)

Now I need to figure out how to get them boxed and shipped to Amanda!

Aahh to have the innocence of a child again!


9:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Happy Thanksgiving! Did you enjoy it? I hope you did.

Anyway, it's the "day after." A day I think most people will be checking their favorite blogs like me.

This was a great post - you're right. It's all about building relationships. That's exactly what I've been trying to do - build relationships. Remembering that my readers are what keep the blog alive and well - the comments they care to make show them to be touched and inspired and come back for more.

It's all about relationships. Bingo!

7:48 AM  
Blogger The Idea Dude said...

Hi Stephen

We had our first big snowstorm of the year in Toronto!

RE: relationship building. You do it so well on your blog too.

Stephen's blog can be found at Adversity University


11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Vernon,
I like how you clarify what we all know deep down and what the reasons are we keep visiting certain blogs!
And a great angle to review my own writing style by.

2:32 PM  
Blogger The Idea Dude said...

Hi Ray, as a musician I'm sure you know lots about how to compose something that wins the hearts of your audience.


4:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are so right: relationships truly are everything! This is an excellent post and a great reminder to all of us to focus on the things that really matter--like the links between people, which are far more important than the links between websites!


5:52 AM  
Blogger The Idea Dude said...

Thanks Jeanne, I truly value all the relationships I'm building with this blog. It's made me so much richer.


12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vern -- Hi, I'm Sunny. :-)
Finding this post about community, and the one on blogging as a gift really made my day! So much of my business and writing is about giving and I guess, like most people, on some days it's harder to give than on others. But then I find a site like yours, and it gets easier again.

8:06 PM  
Blogger The Idea Dude said...

Hi Sunny

Inspiration must be infectious. You've just inspired me with your comment too. Thank you.


8:13 PM  

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