We’re all familiar with the idea of a community: like-minded people who can share ideas with one another, talk to about problems and ask for advice, and turn to whenever we need anything. Communities are about creating safe spaces where people can really be themselves and connect with others, and it’s increasingly important to create these support networks so that people can learn and grow alongside one another.
When it comes to online communities, there’s a lot of skepticism about how powerful they really are, but the truth is that the relationships we build digitally can be just as valuable as those we make face-to-face. Online communities are unique in that they also allow you to form and strengthen bonds with people around the world, so you aren’t limited by where you live and can build a truly global perspective.
We sat down with Alan Henessey, The Digital Mentor, and D. Scott Smith, Motivational Listener, who founded The Global Tea Break together. The Global Tea Break is an international community that meets on the third Friday of every month and has connected people around the world. So, if you’re looking to build an international community, social media is an amazing tool to take advantage of! Here’s how you can build an international community through social media:
Identify your priorities
There are 1440 minutes in a day, and every single one of them counts. If you want to make your project a reality, it’s important that you take the time to sit back, look at your calendar, and identify what tasks are helping you achieve your goals as well as what aren’t.
Replace any unimportant things with tasks that are related to what you’re working on. If you find that you spend three hours a day just binging random YouTube videos, try to cut that time down and focus on more productive tasks, such as researching, connecting with other professionals in your field, and planning.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should never have fun! It’s important to do things that you like even if they aren’t as “productive,” but just be sure to know what your priorities are and focus on achieving your goals.
As you’ve probably heard before, consistency is key. If you’re trying to build a truly global community, you need to ensure that these people know that they can always reach out to you. For example, The Global Tea Break meets on the third Friday of every month no matter what. When members of your community see that you’re dedicated and consistent, they’ll be able to incorporate that into their schedules and set aside time to connect with others.
It’s also important to keep things simple. Using Zoom and setting up breakout rooms is a great way to get people to actually talk to each other — at The Global Tea Break, participants split into breakout rooms of 3-4 people and one person from each breakout room reports back to the main group about what they’ve been discussing. This keeps things simple and consistent, and ensures that people stay engaged.
The real magic doesn’t always happen in breakout rooms or conferences, it happens in one-on-one conversations you have with people that you have something in common with. To build a real community, it’s important that people connect with one another outside of the events or programs that you have. A simple phone call or video chat can allow people to learn so much about each other and create genuine, lasting bonds.
Remember, a community is not just about business, but about supporting and helping one another. You should always aim to grow and improve to better serve others, and promoting what you’re doing on social media is a wonderful way to do that. Be honest about what’s going on in your life, what you’ve been up to, and how other people can get connected with you.
To get the word out on social media, try to create a presence for yourself, whether that’s through an eye-catching logo, specific colors that people will associate with your brand, or some other creative visual to get people to pay attention to you. If you’re worried about beating or outsmarting the social media algorithm, keep in mind that the human algorithm is always the way to go. Genuine conversations and human connections are extremely powerful when it comes to building community.
Take a hybrid approach
Especially because of the pandemic, hybrid events are becoming more and more popular. Instead of being exclusively via Zoom, which can lead to people getting easily bored or distracted, or in-person events, which can cost extra amounts of time and money, many events are transitioning to a hybrid model, where online and in-person options are offered. This can help you reach a larger audience and have a more diverse speaker pool.
Overall, social media is an incredible way to create a truly international community that is full of support, encouragement, and authenticity. Genuine human connection is the foundation of friendships and communities!