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Building community and why it matters.

Helen Keller couldn’t have put it more beautifully “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”

Photograph: iStock

Text: Lyndsay Jensen

In Denmark, something is happening. We have lived in challenging times for the last two years, but now I feel a community buzzing again. With developments down in Lolland (check out the informative 32pg Lolland magazine that comes with this issue), community-based events like Welcome September that brings Denmark together (Pg 10-11) – something is happening. I’m hopeful for internationals in Denmark! I get the feeling a change has come chiefly from communities being apart for so long. Of course, there will always be challenges, but they also can bring about opportunities. Today, it might be never-ending COVID-19, but tomorrow, you could be facing other challenges. That’s why building and cultivating a community is more essential than ever right now. Let’s start with these solid tips on how to create your own:

Define your community

Before you can start conversations and help facilitate connections, you need to know your audience. This helps you understand them, their motivations, their role concerning your organisation, how to best reach them and what relevant questions or challenges you can help them solve.

Community goals

Now that you have a clear picture of the people that comprise your community, use that insight to help collaboratively develop some goals for your community. Giving your community a chance to form goals gives community members a chance to truly invest in what you’re achieving. In addition, the feelings of ownership and pride not only help members of your community feel appreciated and recognised but also that they have a seat at the decision-making table right next to you.

Start the conversation

By understanding your audience and what you hope to achieve together, you can create ways to converse, share and engage. Social distancing is keeping many people away from offices, gatherings, meetings and events. Seize the opportunity to let your community know you’re still invested in bringing them together, even if there are some events still through digital methods.

“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” - Helen Keller

Be flexible with your calendar

Events are typically a significant part of community building. Conferences, meetings, and work sessions give community members a chance to learn, share, build relationships, and solve problems face-to-face, strengthening individual connections and community.

Yet when you’re forced to cancel, postpone or rethink an event - take a deep breath and a few steps back and reassess how you can still bring your community together in a different way. Think of it this way: by keeping your community connected and engaged amid challenging circumstances, you’ll help strengthen those bonds and provide some much-needed stability and reassurance to those who need it.

Keep it going…

Consistency is key to successful community building. Outline the steps you’ll take to keep community-building a continual priority. Build a calendar for your communications so you can track your progress. This can also help you identify what sort of messaging, content and assets you need to keep your community informed and connected.

Don’t forget to encourage feedback and leadership from your community directly to more effectively measure your efforts and what you can change or refine to make them even more successful.

Always try and remember, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Well, the same applies to your community. You aren’t going to build a community in a day. Instead, focus on the small steps you can take now to bring your community together. Those small steps often lead to more significant actions, and that’s what community building is all about.

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