“To me, community is about connections between people, and relationships between members of that community.” — Gina Bianchini
I had the lovely opportunity to sit down with Gina Bianchini, Founder & CEO of Mighty Networks, and discuss the core attributes of a thriving community.
In this post, we’ll touch on:
Belonging. Camaraderie. Support. Those are a few of the benefits of finding and engaging in a community that embraces you for who you are. Elements that aren’t found in the type of community that is more often referenced today; the social media take over.
“To me [social media] is not a community.” Gina explains, “And the reason is that social media is built for me to talk out at you, you to potentially talk back at me, and nobody necessarily connecting or talking to each other.” she continues.
Of course, there is a time and place for social media. It can be inspiring to catch glimpses of other people’s lives and to share bits of ours, but it makes real connection tricky.
At Mighty Networks, Gina and her team strive to provide a more inclusive, immersive community experience. That takes some serious consideration.
“Is the community set up so that it gets more valuable to every member with each new person who joins and contributes?” Gina says, “not just reach, but is it valuable? Meaning does somebody get more out of the community, because another person joined and contributed their story, their experience, their ideas, their support?” she continues, “That's really, to me, the power of community.”
A valuable community uplifts and pours into its members. When everyone has a story to tell, experiences to share, and lessons to learn from one another, magic happens.
We’re all familiar with accountability in one form or another. Due dates, project partners, etc. What does that look like in a community setting?
“People coming together in a place where they can be themselves. No shame. To realize their full potential and ultimately achieve the results and transformation they want to have in their lives.” Gina shares, “a community sits at the center of how we go through life together.”
The influence of like-minded people connecting and engaging over goals and mile-stones, hiccups, and hindrances, has astronomical results for making progress in key areas of life.
“More now than at any other point in time, we have an opportunity to influence the people around us and create new cultures and new lifestyles, new habits and new practices,” Gina continues, “it all comes back to the power of community, of bringing people together in a way that it's not about consuming content alone, but rather creating a network of people that gets more valuable to every member who joins and contributes.”
When you look around and see other people making mistakes and rallying, having breakthroughs, and learning out loud—you’ll find a new well of motivation inside that propels you forward.
“To help each and every one of us have the kind of impact, make the kind of contributions, and ultimately realize the kinds of lives that we want to live,” Gina says, reflecting on the impact a solid community can deliver.
It’s all in the relationships, the commitment, and the dedication of community members.
Humans are social by nature. And yet, as Gina points out, “I always feel like we need a new definition, because social has come to mean that I pull up my phone and I scroll through other people's lives.”
Community is at the center of what humans crave. “We are community animals. We want to be a part of a community that sees us, where we can make real connections to other people.” Gina clarifies.
The draw of connection is rooted in the need for understanding, friendship, and a sense of purpose in the world. High-quality relationships are what fuel us through the day.
“Instead of following more and more people that we are never going to speak with, it’s building communities and cultures where we can have real relationships with other human beings on our same path, who share our goals,” Gina says.
When you gather multiple people in one place, digital or otherwise, you'll find variety. Different perspectives, ideas, and ways of thinking are other aspects of communities that inspire change. Introducing yourself to new views can give you the exact ingredient you were missing to excel.
“We are not meant to live in a world where there's a monoculture.” Gina points out, “The beauty of us [humans] is that we want novelty.”
Gina and her team have broken community building into a science in and of itself. “Fundamentally, when you're creating a community, you need a motivation for that community to exist. Who is this community for?” she explains, “There’s a specific formula for it.”
A solid community needs to know:
Gina gives a solid example of how to answer those questions using one of their community leaders, Martinez.
“In the case of Martinez: ‘I bring together slow runners or beginner runners or people running for something other than weight loss, to learn new tools and techniques for running slowly and not hurting yourself and building your health. To be able to connect with other slow runners,’” Gina explains.
“And this is the key phrase, ‘so that we can take on bigger and bigger challenges that make us feel alive and realize our full potential in our health journey. Without the shackles of weight loss and a sense of pain, and ultimately, thrive physically through the joy of exercise and the joy of running that we experienced together.’ That's the power of a big purpose sentence.” she continues.
Think about a goal you’re passionate about. How could a community help you achieve that goal? What is your big purpose sentence?