Tech Communities are clusters of people that have interests in various technologies. You can grow a tech community and guide people toward working together.
Reasons why you should grow a tech community?
Growing or starting a tech community is a demanding task. In most (if not all) cases, this task is a volunteer one. In other words, you are not paid for the leadership service. Notwithstanding, the following are reasons why you should grow a tech community.
You will become a leader. You will plan and host events. You will network with high-profile experts in the tech space. Community building will boost your portfolio, after all, it is a skill in itself.
Grow a tech community because you want to mentor people (where you can). You want to help people by providing them access to information and tools they otherwise wouldn't have known about.
As you grow or build the community, you bring experts and beginners together. As such because of the community you are maintaining, beginners will have a chance to be mentored by others not necessarily you.
C. Social Capital
You have impacted people's lives. Hence, you are part of their stories. In turn, they help you where they can. They begin to wish well for you.
You gradually become a public figure. People will value your presence at events and would like you to be their speaker. You must have made a great number of quality friends that will be there to support you when in need.
From scratch or taking the baton?
In growing a community, you either start from scratch (building a community where there was none) or continue the mantle from some previous community lead.
If you are starting a new community, you will either start one out of passion on your own (and become its founder), or you start one under the umbrella of existing tech companies/communities (starting a new chapter of community programs like GDG, GDSC, Facebook Developer Circles, etc.).
If this is your case, you might have more work to do. You will have to promote the community aggressively and be very welcoming in order to get active members. Don't fret. It is possible. Existing communities were once never there and were built by someone, so you can do it too.
If on the other hand, you just continued leadership from a previous lead, your job is to maintain an existing community. Chances are there are already active community members that can help you, so your job will be easier. You however should not take such an opportunity for granted else you will fail to grow that community.
In either case, you are in charge. You are looked up to as a model to be followed. You make core decisions about how things work in the community. You give instructions that others follow.
How to Grow a Tech Community
Set goals. Work towards your goals. Strive to achieve them.
Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Take statistics of the current community's state. Take note of metrics like the number of members, how active are the members, are the members growing, their technical expertise, what they want to learn, ...
Note that this might not apply to you if you are building from scratch. If this is your case, look around for a starting point, you will notice pointers that will guide you.
Draw up a plan of things you want to see in your community after a period of time (maybe in a month, 3 months, 6 months, ...).
This will give you insights into how you should proceed. Set a calendar for events you will organize. The event types you will organize and the intervals between your events depend on what you want to achieve.
Measure performance and progress. Check weekly for what was better or worse. Adapt your strategy toward your long-term wishes and goals for the community. Ensure that before your tenure ends, you must have maintained the community and made it better.
2. Team Work
TEAM: Together Everybody Achieves More.
You can't do everything alone. You need to work with people. After all, chances are you are volunteering. So call for volunteers too and create a core team as you need.
Split tasks and delegate them to the core team or community members. Motivate and reward volunteers and active members, this will make them do better when next you give them a task.
You are the lead, yes! But please it is a community. Don't be authoritative. Don't impose only your wishes. As you work with others, seek their opinions and allow them to execute their wishes. Carry people along and let them know what you want to achieve.
Communicate frequently and in detail. This way, you are sure there is proper context among everyone. Encourage community members to contribute in different ways. Remind them that their active participation keeps the community alive.
This can't be overemphasized. Organize and promote events. You have to do this to keep the community alive.
You can organize different types of events like speaker sessions, demo days, bootcamps, ... Just plan your event well ahead of time and everything will fall in place.
Also partner with other tech communities around (where possible). Be open to working with people. Look for sponsors and accept collaborations. Your events will be blasts and become a remarkable person.
Hype your community and its events. Use social media and other advertising at your reach. Let the world know that such communities exist.
As you promote the community, more people get to know about it and more interactions with it take place.
Always communicate the community's Code of Conduct to new members. Once in a while, talk about them to your old community members. This keeps everyone in check and reduces the chances of defaulters.
You are doing a great job and people will support and help you as you grow the community. So don't feel afraid to do the job.
Cheers to your success in growing your tech community.