Growing a community creates challenges. First, a community must find a reason to expand. Not every community will want or need the growth. Second, growing a community requires reaching out beyond core users to attract diverse members, but this could cause a group to deviate from its original goals. Lastly, creating growth itself isn’t the only issue. The group must have a plan and ability to maintain itself once it has grown to a sustainable size.
While a close-knit community would not want to alienate members by growing out of its core appeal, a community that wants to branch out can benefit in several ways. A growing community creates efficiency and increasing value. As new members add their unique knowledge, skills, and opinions to the group, their input contributes to the value of the community. A small community may have motivated members, but they will have a greater individual responsibility for the continuation of the group. Growing the community will spread this responsibility to a greater number of people, which lessens the likelihood of group collapse.
How does a community grow? To go beyond natural growth of a group, an expanding community must be willing to reach out. Members use word of mouth to find likeminded individuals, and the community as a whole can network with similar groups. This networking and outreach enables the group to find members that are looking for the value they provide. Once the group has established its growth, it then must consider the methods to sustain it.
There is no use to boundless growth if it doesn’t add value, or worse, takes away from the group’s core purpose. To stay together relationships must be maintained, and community leaders must be willing to engage with their users. This creates trust and a self-sustaining community atmosphere. The responsiveness of the community becomes especially relevant when dealing with problems that arise.
To achieve the benefits of growth, a community must first be willing to reach out and diversify membership. With new members and self-awareness, responsive leaders can create a dynamic group will be able to sustain itself and weather any issues that may arise.
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