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Ben Patton
Ben Patton

Posted on • Originally published at Medium on

Community Building — Learning In Public

Photo by Kimson Doan on Unsplash

Community Building — Learning In Public

Building a community is one of the most confusing things to me. I don’t know how consistent these articles on community will be but consider this my learning in public for community

What Is Community?

I am coming at this from a developer perspective. What does it mean to ‘build a community’? Right now there is a lot of hype around the word community. I read that Venture Capitalist are requiring those they invest in to have a community plan. But can community be bought?

I remember a couple of years ago when all of my friends were into Cross-fit that all the did was talk about Cross-fit. It has actually become a double cliche now to say that Cross-fitters talk about Cross-fit. But how does this pertain to community?

In one sense it is pricy. Cross-fit is anything but cheap to spend 45min in a gym with one coach yelling at you so you are a part of the club. Now, don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends do Cross-fit but what are you paying for? I would argue that you are paying to be apart of the club, i.e the community of cross-fitters.

Marketing & Community: Are They Similar?

This is a question that I am working through right now.

I have mentioned Seth Godin and a lot of the thoughts that I get from his writing and keynote speeches. One of the questions when thinking through marketing is “people like us do things like this.”

How does that relate to community? Well in one sense, ‘permission marketing’ and thinking for ‘what change you are trying to make’ has to do with the people you are seeking to help. That much is obvious.

But community is not so obvious. I reached Shawn Wang, known as Swyx, and asked him about community. One thing he said that stuck with me is:

Community is different than DevRel Content Creation.

This thought intrigued me for a variety of reasons but the most prevalent thoughts come from various podcasts and interviews with Swyx. Here are a few.

  • Community Building is the hottest new thing in tech.
  • Everyone wants community building to be a part of their startup/company.
  • There is no real definition for the ‘job description’.
  • A community builder does a little bit of everything. Meaning a ‘community builder’ does devrel content creation, developer advocate, marketing, sales, etc.

This brings me to my parting thought for today.

The more we try to define what community is, the more community will morph into other things. There are people more fit to build community but those people are attuned to individuals and groups. They are not attuned to a job description. They are gifted at shepherding people where they want to go and walk alongside them on their journey.

Feel free to comment and ask questions. I am learning about community as I go.

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