I go through phases of information consumption. At the beginning of the pandemic, it was tech podcasts all the time. Then it was audiobooks, mostly self-help kind of stuff. Now it’s a mix of audiobooks, podcasts, and YouTube videos of all different genres. But sprinkled in there has been a variety of Community Building books and Resources. I’m going to use the word “Reading List” loosely here in place of a resource list, as I give you some of my favorites over the past couple of years.
Books for Community Builders
The Art of Community: Seven Principles for Belonging by Charles H. Vogl
Community is the opposite of isolation; there’s a need for community now more than ever as there’s an increasing report of lonliness. This book describes seven principles of community. Among the key takeaways are creating boundaries to preserve your community, finding ways to onboard new members, creating unique rituals for belonging, connection through storytelling, community structure and organization, and defining what makes your community special and allowing for unique growth within your community.
The Business of Belonging by David Spinks
Focusing on brands and brand communities, Spinks dives into strategy, higher-order thinking, and measuring the activities that inform business decisions. As Spinks writes about community, he defines it in terms of the potential it has for the business, from evangelists to employees. What’s important to remember when we talk about communities and business is that authenticity has to be at the center of it all.
The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
One of the great things about this book was the examples. Learning through experiences makes the concepts come to life, and helps you to determine your role as part of the community, as the host, as the guest. Understanding our role, and the roles of those around us can empower us to create gathering spaces that address the needs and imagination of all those involved.
Stories That Stick: How Storytelling Can Captivate Customers, Influence Audiences, and Transform Your Business by Kindra Hall
This might not seem like it fits with the other books in this list, but you have to be able to share the story of your community, whether that’s with people who may become community members, current members, or potential funders. Knowing how to share the story of your community, its purpose, and why it matters helps us to connect to others. Humans weren’t meant to be alone; we’re meant to be together and have meaningful experiences. These experiences come through stories. But whether or not those stories impact the listener depends on how we tell them. This book helps you to share them in a meaningful way.
Podcasts about Community Building
I love In Before the Lock, not only because the hosts Erica Kuhl and Brian Oblinger are incredibly knowledgeable, insightful, and report on industry news, but also because they’re fun to listen to and have quality audio. They don’t always agree–and those are some of the best episodes–but they bring examples and reasoning to their opinions. Another great part of the podcast is they aren’t shy about sharing their hot takes. If you want to listen to a podcast where the hosts aren’t afraid of pushing you to think about things from a different perspective, this is a great one.
This podcast follows the traditional path of a host interviewing an industry expert. The thing I like most about this podcast is the guests are from a variety of different industries. This diversity of industry brings new ideas, different perspectives, and allows me to learn about community experiences I may never consider as someone from outside of those communities.
This is my Community 101 reading and listening list. Each of these provides the basics of community building and then goes in depth to help community builders discover more about the community experience. I have another list of resources that isn’t a “traditional” take on community that I might write about in the future, but it’ll take a more thorough explanation of why I think it should be on your community builder reading list.