Building Strong Relationships Between Members: Some Practical Steps
There is often a gap in communities between those which stimulate a lot of interactions and those which have developed relationships between members.
This is a gap community managers can solve. But first we must understand the four pillars of relationships.
1. Reciprocal self-disclosure.
2. Shared experiences.
3. Pleasure in each others company.
As community managers you have a heavy influence over whether interactions between members turn into relationships.
You can initiate discussion to encourage this self-disclosure. You can get members to reveal more information about themselves. You can get members to contributions their thoughts and opinions on issues, and ensure others respond to those thoughts, opinions and emotions.
You can create experiences members can go through together. You can organize events or highlight periods of success of difficulty which members have/are going through. You should document these in your community’s history.
You can provide a positive, fun, community tone that increases their chances of enjoying each others company. You can keep the community interesting and avoid being too gloomy by subtly influencing the tone of the community. You can make the community a place people go to not to exchange information, but to enjoy themselves. This place can be where members fill their social needs.
Finally, you can involve members in a vision for the future of the community. You can get members to express their aspirations for what the community will be, what will happen within the community in the future and how they will contribute to that.
If you do all of these, you will facilitate very strong relationships between members in your community.