Most community literature can be boiled down to this: 'get people in the same room and get them to talk to each other'. If you can do this, you’re usually doing a great job. If you're a business, getting your audience talking in the same room is easier than you think.
- A plumber can host a monthly gathering of customers where he demonstrates how to fix basic plumbing problems. Teach customers some basic trade skills and ensure they enjoy talking to each other. Perhaps team up with a mechanic and an electrician for a big winner.
- A pizza place can invite their best customers each month to an evening of free pizzas. Drinks, pizza and food. Nobody will turn down free pizzas. They might just enjoy meeting up with each other too.
- A communications consultancy can book a venue every month, provide free dinner and drinks to clients. It's simple to organize, clients might like the networking opportunity and you become the centre of your client's community.
- A super-huge organization can invite their best customers to come by to the headquarters once a month. They can give honest feedback to the company whilst enjoying the open discussions, drinks, food and first look at new products.
Do you notice a pattern? By offering something ridiculously simple (free food and drink, usually) you can bring the people you want to talk to each other into a place where they will talk to each other. This is such a cost-effective step to building a sense of community, it's staggering more companies don't do it.