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Community lessons from a legend
And new projects announced!
This post was co-written with my co-conspirators over at Team Rosieland: Ali, Erin, and Leo. It celebrates Rosie Sherry, a community building legend. Rosie bootstrapped the Ministry of Testing and, until recently, ran the Indie Hackers community. She’s recently left IH to focus on Rosieland and our upcoming community course (Please check it out! Registration closes soon!), and who knows what else she’ll get up to –– this woman has Beyonce levels of energy, I swear.
In case you missed it, last week Rosie announced she’d be leaving Indie Hackers after 2 years of leading community efforts there. Her announcement is the fourth highest post of all-time on Indie Hackers, and our little corner of the internet in #CommunityTwitter has been buzzing.
We combed these threads to find the Rosie gems and share them with you, along with key takeaways they’ve inspired.
Rosie, thank you for being you, for being kind, always lifting us up as you grow, and inviting us to build a rosier world with you. Here are the biggest lessons that we (and so many in the community world) have learned from you.
BE KIND. BE GENEROUS. BE ENCOURAGING. BE ROSIE.
If you’ve ever had the fortune of running into Rosie on the internet, you know how much of a true joy it is to be in her circle. She treats strangers like close friends, roots for you no matter what you’re doing, and embraces who you are, because you’re you.
Rosie Sherry is a bit of a f*cking legend if we do say so ourselves, and there’s a multitude of reasons why this lends a natural hand to community building, the message would be consistent—be kind, be generous, be encouraging, be ROSIE.
It goes without saying, these are skills that are hard to come by naturally, but we’re going to break it down into lessons that we think are applicable to all communities.
1. It starts by showing up
Showing up day after day can really take a toll. It can be tough, it can be tiring, it can feel like you’re yelling out in an echo chamber only getting fleeting responses in return. But these little moments have a larger impact on your community than many ever realize.
Heck, it’s how Rosie got her start with Indie Hackers in the first place—by being an active member in the community and sharing her journey with others in the first place. When you want to build a community, first and foremost, you have to make sure that you’re consistent and dependable.
📌 Lesson learned: Notice who is already showing up and support them
2. Take the time to make your members feel special
Community isn’t just some set it and forget it plan—it’s built at the micro-level. Rosie never got too far from the community, from the new member to those well versed in it’s tradition.
It only takes a second to share advice or encouragement, (or even a like or an upvote!).
Even if (or especially if) you’re a higher level manager, spend time with the people who make the community, well, the community! You never know how big of an impact these little details have on someone’s life.
A positive presence in your community not only makes the community a place that you want to be, but also a safer more caring community overall.
📌 Lesson learned: The little (unscalable) things mean the world.
3. Listen (No, truly listen)
For anyone who followed Rosie when she was originally building Ministry of Testing, listening was a key part of what made the community successful and the business profitable. Listen to your community members, and not just to listen, but to actually take feedback from and tune in to the community and figure out how to make it a better place to be.
Keeping engaged will not only help you spot great ideas, but also will help you keep your finger on the pulse of your community. Is there something threatening your community's vibe? Is there something that could make your members' lives easier? Is there something that would just make things a bit more fun?. Act on these ideas quickly! Practice following your community's energy often, and with confidence. Rosie was so incredibly good at following the Indie Hackers community energy.
Identify the helpers, the vocal members, and those who are just happy to be in your community early on, just by not only starting conversations but also by listening to them. Don’t just take feedback, but actively seek it out within your community members, then act on it. Making your community a better place isn’t a passive act, but rather, an active one.
📌 Lesson learned: Be an active listener.
4. Be deliberate and detailed
We’ve seen many share Rosie-isms on Twitter and Indie Hackers this week, and to those who have worked with her or been in a community with her, it’s no surprise. The thoughtful and deliberate way she builds community is nearly impossible for it to go unnoticed.
Rosie has a natural knack for understanding the impact on conversations, connections, and knowledge sharing. Whether planning an event for a small group or launching a large initiative, she is well organized and builds with intention.
Think through all that needs to happen for your community members to create strong relationships with one another, then build them. From new ways of approaching the online events to thinking through content and activities that will get members connecting.
📌 Lesson learned: Be deliberate and detailed in your own building
5. Lean into your authentic self
We often live in a world where enthusiasm and genuine love are seen as weaknesses. Rosie has made these her biggest strength. From the way that she showed up, to how she embraced community members and just living life. She celebrated your wins but also helped comfort your losses. Rosie makes you believe like the world is nothing but roses.
Whether you had one fan, or a hundred thousand fans, Rosie would be right there in your corner cheering you on, and rallying the troops.
You don’t have to build community like anyone else. Understand your strengths and use them for good, unabashedly. Don’t compromise and follow the status quo. Trust that your people will find you, in fact, it will be easier for them to find you—the real you—if you’re being yourself.
📌 Lesson learned: Understand your own unique strengths and values and lean into them.
6. Share what you’ve got, freely
We found story after story of Indie Hackers sharing how Rosie supported, uplifted, and gave incredible opportunities to the IH community.
📌 Lesson learned: Understand what unique access, resources, and support you can provide and then go above and beyond to share this with your community.
7. Be someone that you’re so damn proud to have the honor of creating with—day in and day out
One of the biggest sentiments shared across the Rosieland team, is just how damn glad we are to have had someone bring us all together. Rosie took the time to create a culture of inclusiveness, camaraderie, and so much joy as we’re building something new together.
📌 Lesson learned: Whatever you’re building, build it with a sense of joy.
Thank you Rosie, for not only sharing with us the ways to build a rosie community, but sharing them with the world.
P.S. I just announced new community meetups and events. Interested in collaborating with other community builders? Check out the calendar!