I want to highly recommend the book on Community that I referenced in my reading list.
There is really interesting ideas in the book about how a group 'connects' and becomes a community. Key thoughts from the book merged with other key thoughts and discussions I have had include:
- Connections happen in many small steps, not big steps. It is a note written, or a dinner invitation, or a gathering or the like. It is about who you invite into your meeting (or to your table).
- It is about asking questions that provoke thought and discussion.
- One of the key functions of leadership is to help develop a community.
- Invitations to join have to be optional. It has to be ok to decline.
It seems that for a group to connect, it really does involve people choosing to connect and putting in the effort to be there for others. It is about following up on problems someone is having, not just when they mention it, but weeks later.
This past Spring I went through some personal trials and mentioned to a group of friends. I got a lot of touch points that week and for a few days later, asking about how I was doing. But it was only one person who followed up with me long time (other than my wonderful wife). That made a big impression on me.
We have some dear friends who live out of state that we met years ago when we lived in Singapore. Every time we see them and spend time with them, the conversations are always meaningful, deep and thought provoking. Lots of good questions. We don't just talk about football or the weather. Instead, we talk about global events, trends, politics, books, our children and the future. It is a different kind of conversation and one that resonates with me for months and years later. They are dear friends.