“Community-making requires time as well as effort and sacrifice. It cannot be cheaply bought.” -- M. Scott Peck MD

Community building is a long haul but a beautiful process. The journey towards building a community from scratch and seeing it grow - nurturing relationships - building strong bonds - learning along the way is more beautiful than the actual destination itself. Of course, in time you'll reach your penultimate destination of reaching your goals, but it is the journey that makes the whole building process beautiful.

Just like how a Phoenix gloriously rises from its ashes and is reborn, acquiring the strength to fly again. It is the journey through which it contrives a group of individuals into an extraordinary place called a community. But like everything else, a community has a starting point and it begins at ground zero.

In the following article, let us see the quintessence of building a community from scratch to gradually gaining valuable members(from 0 to 100), how to identify the first 100 members of your community? And why are they crucial to sculpt your community? Without further ado, let's start!

How to hero the Zero(0)?

The zero is where it all starts! You can't build a community expecting it will proliferate your business revenue or amplify your leads into customers. You're probably wrong! An organic community will grow slowly building its focus around its members.

When you envision building your community, what does the end-state look like? Build your community with an agenda and goals. Since this is ground zero, this is where you build the foundation of your community. The following are a few foundation rules to be laid out in ground zero situations.

  • Do your research, find other online communities that are similar to yours, and become a part of their communities. Take notes - Learn. Note down the pros and drawbacks.
  • Following your research, plan and strategize how to provide stellar content in your community - Invest your time - Brainstorm ideas on delivering creative and unique content to your community members.
  • Initially, it's going to be only a bunch of members in your community, so create a sense of belonging and connection with your community members encouraging them to participate in community activities and engagement.
  • Fiercely dedicate your community to revolve around the members. Post discussions on casual and interesting topics to get your members actively engaged in your community.
  • Setting standards and goals are important for building the health of any community. And when there is a set standard for what is and what is not tolerable, it allows you to build expectations that everyone can trust around group interactions.
  • Once you have laid out your standards and goals, it's time for you to open up discussions and icebreakers to encourage your community members to engage in your community.

This is only the beginning of your journey to build your community! Building a Community has its gestation period and each and every step of building it lays a strong foundation and strengthens the value of your community.

How to evolve from scratch to a community of 100 members?

“We were born to unite with our fellow men and to join in community with the human race.” -- Cicero

Building a community from 0-100 is much arduous than reaching from 100-1000. It's shocking but true. When building a community, you have to think about how are you going to market your community to get 100 people to join? And not just any 100 people, these are going to be the ones who are going to segue your community in a direction towards reaching your goals.

In the first stage of the community building process, start with just a group of 20 or 25 members who are community champions, mentors, pro​té​gé, and cohorts( a group of individuals who are inclined towards a common interest). Once you assemble your small community, take the lead and start posting discussions and interesting topics in your community -- moderating the discussion by finding topics that would stir debate and by having other members do the same.

Let the mentors, community champions address the questions and respond to every comment and question posted by mentees and pro​té​gé of your community. Make sure you take part in all these discussions as well, when you don't have answers, or when you feel that someone else could respond better than you could, refer comments to mentors or champions who are better suited to respond, encouraging collaboration amongst the members. Ignite and encourage communication among your community members.

In time you will notice that the members were not just interacting with you but with one another, and it develops camaraderie among the members. Eventually, it will pan out to a few more people who'd feel happy to be a part of your community, collaborate, and feel welcomed to be a part of your community increasing your community growth, and also your brand will gain popularity spreading out the ripples of the joy of your community.

How are the first 100 members crucial to sculpting your community?

The first 100 members of your community are crucial to shaping your community. But it is impossible to have engaging members, there could be a lack of commitment or inactivity on the part of a few members -- then you have to make sure you step up and encourage them to open up by opening a new discussion or converse with them to get feedback if they are liking the idea of being a part of your community. Creating a camaraderie with the early members of your community would pave the way to a successful community-building process, as we shall see in the following. We have an example that chimes well with this predicament.

Story time!

This story is about a successful Indian entrepreneur named Anubhav Dubey, who started with one tea shop and it went on to grow like wildfire across India and franchises abroad as well.

It all began in July 2016, when Anubhav Dubey and his friends decided to open a tea shop with a catchy name called 'Chai Sutta bar' in Indore with an initial investment of 2 lakhs. They also chose to set up their tea shop in a corner place opposite a girls’ hostel. They initially thought they would gain traction if college girls and boys come to try their cup of tea – very witty huh! Much to their dismay, they didn't get any customers on their first day. Although, they had pretty impressive interior designs and were offering tea for free the first day.

The first-day fiasco led them to carry out a brilliant tactic, which included Anubhav Dubey calling out a bunch of his friends and asking them to try out his tea and talk about it. People who passed by were intrigued by such a crowd outside his tea shop, contemplating what is so special about this place? Eventually, they were attracting customers, with a nice place to sit, a great ambiance filled with music, and the tea wasn't expensive either. He served his tea in a clay cup instead of a Styrofoam cup.

Day by day his customers increased and so did his business growth and revenue. And today his one tea shop has proliferated into 130+ outlets over 4 different countries with a cumulative turnover of 100 crores from all the outlets.

What does the story imply?

From the above story, What do we infer? It is very evident no matter how aesthetically pleasing your community is, your first 100 members are going to help you grow your community into a prolific and stunning place for all your customers to connect, discuss, actively participate, and much more. Provided you are offering your customers top-notch high-quality content, schedule fun community activities like events, discussions, and videos.

You will have to invest your time, creative ideas, and learn how to provide your customers a safe place and experience from your community.

Should you find or identify the first 100 members?

Like the aforementioned example, you can't just create a community with any 100 members. When you are in the initial stages of building a community, it is all about making your customers know that you have a community that revolves around your customers and cares about them. Once you make your community feel like home to your members, they will invite new members to join that enriches your community. Eventually, over time your community will grow predominantly, and slowly you can incorporate and focus on creating brand-related content and events targeting your community members.

Community growth happens when you find early adopters(initial community members) and nurture them along the whole development process of your product. They later turn out to be your evangelists and brand advocates since they can better relate with the product’s value proposition since they’ve been part of the entire development process. Leverage these aspects to further scale your base of early customers and gradually get to your first 100 paying customers. Eventually, your community members refer it to their friends and ask them to join and the cycle continues. So finding your first 100 members of a community is crucial to shaping your community.

A beautiful journey

Let’s build communities with community leaders, champions, and mentors. Let’s build communities with early adopters and mentees. Let these members invite their valuable members and create a flywheel effect to your community-building process. When this process works out just right, your community members will grow in no time and there you are building a community and nurturing it from ground zero to a significant level.

The commitment of the members creates an environment for inclusivity, authenticity, the ability to use consensus, and the feeling of camaraderie and support. Commitment is where community building begins, and when it persists, it can take the group all the way till the end of the process. It all can be achieved by building your community by investing time, setting goals, being unique, and authentic.

What we begin today will reverberate into the future, one beat at a time.