Pantheon Community

Ask me how to truly build meaningful and lasting communities

Hello, all you wonderful humans! :grinning:
I’m Raquel Landefeld the Event Coordinator for Elegant Themes. I plan and implement tech events and meetups and I love it so! Not to mention that I miss it so… :sob: :sweat_smile:
I spend most of my time intentionally building strong communities wherever my feet are and I am passionate about efficient and vulnerable communication.
I have real-life experience in tech, neighborhoods, schools, local government, and churches. Building up strong communication and community is truly my life’s passion! So much so that I’ve done for free.
Ask me anything about building legit communities, how to communicate for real (:wink:), and planning IRL conferences and meetups!

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Hello Raquel,
It was such a pleasure meeting you at WordCamp US last year! Fingers crossed :crossed_fingers:that maybe next year we can hang out again.

I’m super impressed at your broad experience and would love to know, what are some key differences in how you approach building communities for non-profits vs for-profit organizations?

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Hey Raquel! :wave:

Thanks for sharing a little bit about yourself–although I am lucky enough to already call you a friend :slight_smile: Thanks @tessak22 for the intro! Anyways, I am super interested in learning some best practices around planning & hosting Meetups. Can you share some best practices with us all? And maybe some helpful tips for those interested in starting their own meetup?

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Oh, fingers crossed :crossed_fingers: for sure! And it was great meeting you as well! :raised_hands:

So, really the difference between non-profit vs for-profit is the “why.” So much of it quite similar. There are goals and other metrics to be met with both. But the “why” is quite polarizing. Usually, for-profit communities are motivated by “their bottom line” which is almost always monetarily-based and can be excessive. Non-profit communities are usually motivated by more social “whys.” I mean, financial goals are definitely present to keep things running, but the “bottom line” is usually social and human based. That social and human goal often takes front stage and makes the community magical! That culture of creating community for the purpose of blessing humans, with fundraising being in the background, is what makes that “why” so different. What a joy to be apart of something that’s goal to to change the world rather than to “make more money.” :sweat_smile:
If it’s not obvious, I defs prefer pouring into not-for-profit communities. But, I cultivate community no matter where I am. If my actions can affect for-profit communities, then everyone wins. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Hi, Raquel! So nice to meet you!

I am so curious to hear more about “efficient and vulnerable communication” – what do you think makes for that kind of communication, and how can I get better at it?

Welcome to our little corner of the internet! :smiley:

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I’m so blessed to call you “friend,” McKenna! And I love that we live in the same town!

So, meetups are a ground zero for building community. A true base for it. In fact, by definition, meetups are a IRL event. Meaning it’s a medium to have in real life, face-to-face events. Of course, sadly the pandemic has altered this temporarily, but we can take a look at this from both angles:

What do you want and why?
So, you need to know your “why” and own it. Do you want to start a hiking/outdoorsy group? Why? Do you want to start a cooking club or a dancing community? Why do you? Your “why” must be powerful or you won’t commit.

Build a team
Seriously, going at it alone is not a good idea. Choose at least one other person to take on the joy with you. And, the more the merrier! In Phoenix, we have 10+ orgs for our WordPress communities which consists of WooCommerce and Divi. We all communicate and support each other but each group has its main org. It’s wonderful. We’ve got each other’s back. I highly recommend enlisting help from others and building a team of like-minded and trusting orgs.

Be consistent
Ya gotta have events and keep 'em coming. A group will die without regularly planned events. I suggest one/month, at least. This is why it’s important to have a team. It’s a commitment, and sharing the load between multiple persons helps a ton. Also, consider setting your event to repeat, if not, schedule three months out regularly.

Content is Queen
At the beginning of growing your community, ya gotta provide reasons for peeps to want to join. Draw them in. Make it a must-do on their schedules. Go nuts in the event description. Give tons of details that answer all questions before they’re even asked. Invite guest speakers. Even virtually. Right now, this is a hot movement considering most events are virtual. But don’t be afraid to do this for IRL events, too. My communities have practiced this for years now and it’s always been received well. Invite guest experts! Bring out a sushi chef to your cooking club or an rock climbing coach to your hiking group. And don’t throw out a blanket, “Who wants to speak?” Directly ask individuals.

PROMOTE YOUR GROUP!
Don’t just rely on meetup to send out emails to members. Share and share some more. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack groups, etc. I mean, even just sharing the event link will populate a decent post. But, experiment with creativity too. Enlist tools like Canva and Later to bring it to the next level.

Be unabashedly warm and welcoming!
Encourage, empower, and trust all members by default. Want their presence and show it. Be :100: inclusive of all humans. Smile. Dear glob, smile and make eye contact. Humans crave it and are drawn to it. It’ll produce a community so warm and friendly. And it’s contagious! Like a generator, the more you practice hospitality the more others will do the same. Your community will be so committed to the group that they’ll come no matter what the content is.

Hope this helps! :sweat_smile::smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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Aww I am super thankful to call you my friend! :heart:

Meetups are a ground zero for building community. A true base for it.

:point_up_2: I LOVE THIS. Yet, oddly enough I don’t belong to any meetups! I am thinking I should absolutely change this [2020 permitting of course :slight_smile:]

In Phoenix, we have 10+ orgs for our WordPress communities which consists of WooCommerce and Divi.

WHOA that is amazing! I didn’t know we had that many open source meetups in the valley! Can I come with you sometime? And hmmmm thinking out loud here—maybe Pantheon can sponsor a few sometime in the future [ehhhh @sparklingrobots :wink: ]

Be :100: inclusive of all humans.

YES YES YES! This is incredibly important. One, we should all be respectful of one another & two come on, the world is so much more beautiful because we are all little different :heart:

Thanks SO MUCH for sharing all of this! You are such a ray of sunshine & wealth of knowledge @raquel. I know I speak for the rest of the community team when I say we would love to collab in the future!

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