What Are The Attributes of A Great Community

Every community has attributes that define- and shape- its culture. And that culture creates its reputation. 

We all know it, experience it and respond to it. As a kid growing up in New York, I didn’t even have to go to the communities to find out what the culture was. When you heard of Bedford Stuyvesant, we knew that it was known for being dangerous, for having bad schools and to not go there at night. When you hear of Great Neck, you immediately think of nice homes, affluent residents and an exclusive feel. When you heard about Wall Street, you knew without even entering Manhattan that it was busy, high pressure, fast-paced and a finance-focused community. 

Think of where you live, or where you grew up. Think of the communities in that area. I would bet that you could use three to five words to describe each one. 

That culture that is developed-whether intentional or not – influences the behaviors and actions of the people in the community. It influences the same of those visiting the community. And you can rest assured that it influences the decision-making of those thinking about joining that community. 

I remember walking down a busy street in Lower Manhattan with a few friends, and someone walking by tossed a glass bottle on the sidewalk. It smashed into a thousand pieces. The store owner standing outside looked over quickly but turned away almost as fast. Not only was he used to it, but if he was bothered by it, you couldn’t tell. 

Later that weekend, many of us were meeting for lunch on Long Island, in a cool little neighborhood on the north shore. One of my friends tossed a soda can on the sidewalk as we were walking. 

“Dude,” one of them snapped, “you don’t do that here!”

The other friend apologized, picked up that can and found a garbage can to put it in. It was perfectly accepted to smash a glass bottle in one area but unacceptable to drop a soda can in another. I will never forget that. 

It comes down to the standards set by the community. Not just the leaders but the members of the community as well. 

Even though the focus of my work is building online communities and helping others build their own, the real world of local communities shares many of the same attributes that online communities do. And we can learn a lot by observing. 

If you are building an online community of some sort, understanding the culture that you are looking to create is vital. What do you allow in? Who are you looking to attract? Who do you desperately want to repel? What are the standards for this community? What are the unique attributes that would make people attracted to what you are building? What are you trying to collectively achieve as a group? 

These- and many more – are so important to understand and to start answering. Even if you have already started a community. We’ve all seen neighborhoods in distress that were turned around by a vision and by answering these questions. 

And even though I have run online communities and memberships for many years, I didn’t always give this the attention it deserved. 

It wasn’t until we started Membership Freedom, and really dove into who it was for did it become so much clearer. And the funny thing is, the attributes of the community that I desired to create were the five main points of my book The Wealth of Connection. 

  1. Character
  2. Curiosity 
  3. Connection
  4. Collaboration
  5. Creation

Those five pillars are the core pieces of what I value in a community that I create. Do you see what that does? When I value it and stick to it, it repels those who don’t value it as well. Just like a nice neighborhood repels litter. 

If someone doesn’t have a good character, they won’t fit in. Even if they get in somehow, they won’t last long because traits like dishonesty, deceit, and selfishness are not what this community is about. So those people stick out like sore thumbs and will get called out. We value great character. And we highlight it. The more others see it, the more it becomes ingrained inside the culture. 

Curiosity is a core component to a successful culture. Do we want people that are interested in others or people who want to just be left alone to just think about themselves? We love curiosity. That’s why I ask questions on almost a daily basis inside the community, so we can learn more about one another. 

That curiosity leads to meaningful connections. We love it when members connect together, help one another and sometimes build things together. Connection is the core piece of community, and it needs to be fostered, appreciated and enhanced. 

Great connections lead to impactful collaboration. What’s so amazing to watch is seeing members of our community collaborating on idea generation, podcast guesting together, masterminding, accountability and various projects. They would often never have met without the community, and now they are collaborating to build each other and relationships. 

This all leads to creation. Everyone in the community is creating something special of their own. And all four before it- character, curiosity, connection and collaboration- lead to great creations. 

To build any successful and thriving community, it’s imperative to know what the key attributes are that the community will be built around. And that there is leadership and a system in place to assure that it’s adhered to. The people who don’t value it won’t like it- but the right people will absolutely love it. And those are the only people that matter. 

Have an AMAZING week!



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