Creating Community | 3
One very practical reason for me to write this article. The concept of building community is important, but of great importance to me personally is the chance for everyone to view my Web site at http://pages.prodigy.net/docfox for online counseling or go to http://www.themestream.com and put in my authors 3 name in the search engine to find a number of articles on a variety of topics ranging from the Sex Habits of Americans, to Online Counseling, Angels, Soulful Writing, Positively Healing the Whole Person and many others. This article gives me the chance to have tremendous exposure and the opportunity to develop better partnerships. My Web site may be plain by some standards and I could use partners in many areas, and an article such as this one may bring me a number of people willing to help me with links, webmastering and much more. In return I will write articles, help with newsletters and do anything that I can do to help them. Excellent partnerships are quickly formed when you can network good articles.
Last but certainly not least let us look at the idea of chat rooms. These can be one of the most active driving sources of community. Chat rooms allow for quicker communication between interested people who can then be recruited as article writers, advertisers, pollsters, and moderators for smaller subgroups in chat room discussions. They can host events around various topics or areas in the field that are linked to your product or service, they can help expand from there into regular bulletin boards, and actually become a part of working committees of writers and newsletter editors and advocates for the newsletter.
Scheduled events, popular chat hosts and much more are very important for maintaining a living, thriving community that is growing to provide a variety of needs and services to other members of the community. It also gives those members a stake in community itself. Chat hosts of particular areas in Prodigy were given free accounts and other benefits to promote the chat rooms and host events. Theamstream Inc. provides pennies for every viewing of an article as does Epinions, while others provide various forms of incentive. The trend is being set as these communities and sub communities are exploding across the cyber universe in geometric progression, spinning off links and smaller colonies. Chat rooms can be hosted from a variety of places, there are Clubs at http://www.yahoo.com and there are also similar types of clubs or organizations with chat rooms at www.excite.com as well as http://www.altavista.com and a variety of others. Egroups of course has not only the email forums, but also the chat rooms and the newsletter options set up so are sometimes a one stop shopping experience. Chat rooms and email groups are complimentary associations as it is easy to associate the two together for events and coordination of events. This of course ties in with the newsletter as well. There are a whole world of ideas out there such as award and recognition programs and recruiting programs that can make the communities much more functional with a sense of warmth and true regard.
Community in the final analysis is more than the members of that group. It also has to do with our products and services, because part of the definition of culture is what is created by any society, the material and nonmaterial products. Interestingly enough by creating communities online we are contributing something far greater, we are contributing ideas that are the nonmaterial product of a cyber culture. When we create a newsletter, sponsor an email forum, form a chat group, write articles and columns for other Web sites and groups, we are adding to an ever growing network that constitutes a growing culture. Be successful and contribute more to the entire system, using your creativity to help develop a community. A whole community, one that is not just solely based on profits or tricks and traps, and gimmicks, but one that is firmly entrenched in the interests of the people. Author Dale Carnegie in his book "How to Win Friends and Influence People" provides us with timeless advice when he encourages us to take a "sincere" interest in what people want, their hobbies, and what really interests them. In this sincerity you can find not only success but also a sense that you have created something that goes beyond your original hopes and captures the essence of many of your original dreams. Creating community is a growing and living idea that serves people. Be successful in your business, providing your service, in promoting your Web site, but do not lose site of the idea that community has its own lasting rewards.
# # #About the Author: Dr. Travis Meeks is a substance abuse counselor, pastoral counselor and online counselor, as well as former Adjunct Professor of Psychology, Sociology, and Social Psychology. Dr. Meeks is currently a writer for Theamstream Inc. and moderator for an online counseling group and newsletter.
Created: February 15, 2001
Revised: February 15, 2001