If you go to seek advice from the ‘experts’ about building a community, they will probably reel off a list of buzzwords and necessities. Oh, you must have a ________.
Fill in the blank space with social network / blog / Twitter / ecommerce / marketing plan / advertising / PR / business plan / events / content / competitions / people / a physical space.
It’s pretty easy to knock a few of the above together.
Of course none of the above makes a community. The actual community part is somewhat intangible. It’s a common understanding. It’s an ethos. It’s a shared goal. A shared interest. It’s about people and relationships. And trust.
This part is much harder. It’s not as easy. Takes time. And can be sensitive and fragile if not treated with respect.
If I relate this to Software Testing Club. It is our ethos and approach which has really made the community a success. It’s not the tools, though I would be lying if they hadn’t helped.
People know we are genuine about supporting the software testing community. They know we strive to produce the best. They (hopefully!) know we are impartial about our craft. They know they can come to us wherever we are and get a professional response. They know boring is not part of our vocabulary.
Software Testing Club as a social network is the main hub of activity, but increasingly we support things elsewhere. Our LinkedIn group is somewhat busy and doesn’t tolerate the spam that most LinkedIn groups suffer from. We are active on Facebook too. Our Meetups spread our philosophy too. We monitor discussions and participate on the likes of Twitter where possible. The Testing Planet is increasingly communicating and connecting with new people.
If our main network was ever shut off, I would like to think that the STC ethos would still prosper without it.