Field of Dreamers and Barn Raisers
For quite a while, I’ve been working with businesses who have or are preparing to build or expand a web presence or social community. They ask me to help focus their strategy and to help bring people to their communities. They want to attract, impress, and ultimately engage fiercely loyal participants.
If you’ve been online for a while, you’ve probably noticed that a percentage of new arrivals get a key strategic point of community sites out of order. Field of Dreamers are sure if they build their idea their way the people will come. Except the people don’t necessarily see the same thing.
More strategic folks Barn Raisers avoid the risk by building the community as they build the site. They believe that people will help build a powerful idea. Barn Raisers invite collaboration from the people they’ll be serving and so what they build is often a gathering place for people even before it’s fully finished.
A Barn Raisers Guide
Here are 7 ways to leave a field of dreams and get people to help you build a thriving reality.
- Look for similar dreams and listen to everyone who knows about them.
Ask, search, and explore to find every reality that has the slightest things in common with your dream. Spend some time at each site you find. Meet the people there and see how they use each site. Hear every other guy’s dreams, wishes, needs, and point of view. Get curious. Ask questions constantly. Wonder about what people think of what’s old, what’s new, what’s in every space in the market. Have some ready questions such as this one: If you were going to build a space for people who like to imitate frogs, what features would consider important to include?
- Turn your dream into promise to do one thing better than anyone else.
Be able to articulate exactly what that is, why it’s important, and how fits in to a person’s life. Check back with those you spoke to and tweak your promised offer until the folks you’ll serve say it’s relevant to them and fits their lives.
- Plan from conception to launch.
Invite people from your outside usual circle to check in on what you’re doing along the way. Weigh their comments for value, sort them, and remember to put the good one to use. Thank everyone of them.
- Turn your promise into a space for conversation, interaction, creation, and sharing.
Build a connection conduit. If your promise becomes a blog, keep it sleek and without barriers. Make it easy to see and interact with you. Offer variety in resources and multimedia. Find ways to interact through events. If you’re building a community site, go easy on bells and whistles, execute your promise clearly, and better than anyone has before. Then use extra resources to find more ways for people to converse, interact, create, and share while on your site.
- Be obsessed with easy.
If you think something is easy, make it easier. When you’ve done that all you can, ask your grandmother or someone who’s never seen it to try using it without directions. If they don’t breeze through it, go back to the drawing board to make it easier.yet
- Ask visitors for feedback and ideas on new ways to use the site.
Let the rule be that everyone gets to pick their best way to do things. That develops into the kind of space that has the climate for relationships.
- Build ways into your site to link out to and to celebrate your participants.
Showcase your heroes. Begin with the folks who help you build the site. Give away five great referrals every morning and five more in the afternoon or evening. People notice folks who appreciate others.
If you invite folks to be part of a powerful idea, you’ll find that you suddenly have a knack for making spaces where people collect, connect, and start conversations. It might have something to do letting people help form the environments that they’re going to inhabit. It’s like painting a house that we’re going to live in — pride of ownership.
Barn raising has always been a brilliant strategy — building the relationships while you’re building a site.
It takes a little practice. And it takes leadership to let go enough to get the good stuff without getting the chaos. The best results always calls for the best from each of us.
I’m hoping as we build barns we might bring some Field of Dreamers to work with Barn Raisers on a community site. I thought maybe they might like the process. Do you think the two together would have a chance of success?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!