Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy, and mutual valuing.
In the early days of commerce, people sat around the pot-bellied stoves of the general stores, arguing, spitting, sipping, swapping stories and gossip, sharing horse sense, and building lasting relationships amongst themselves (and the stores). Many stores even had separate benches for Republicans and Democrats. We’ve devoted an entire book to helping understand how to translate successful relationship building techniques from the real world to the digital world. How can an organization capture some of the ethos of the old general store in our digital efforts?
The answer is an online community.
Digital communities exemplify a number of characteristics found in that old general store: