Book Review: Get Together
What is a community,? Do you have one? Is creating a community worth it? What does this have to do with sex blogging?
According to the authors of Get Together: How to build a community with your people, “…true communities are simply groups of people who keep coming together over what they care about.” Your group of friends that get dinner and a movie once a month? That’s a community. A few dozen sex bloggers that share successes, failures, advice, and questions? That’s a community! (nudge nudge, Smutlancer’s Patreon, nudge nudge) The people who read your blog? They could be a community if you put the right structure in place.
Communities Over Customers
It’s my view, and I believe the authors of Get Together would back me up here, that communities are more sustainable than customers. Viewing your readers as customers makes your blog or whatever your project into a product. Who wants to pour their heart, soul, and, most dangerously, your time into a mere product? However, if you can frame your projects as something that sustains and even unites a community, you’ll be much more motivated. Importantly, your content will also have a greater impact.
First your spark the flame, then you stoke the fire, and eventually, you pass the torch. This is the metaphor that Get Together uses to describe the process of developing a community. For each section, the authors add thought-provoking, yet simple questions that might have you thinking “Why didn’t I think of that?” while others might say “Well, of course, you should do that.” I will say that this book is simple and concise but in the best way possible. The audiobook is a mere 2 hours and 46 minutes long. When I finished it, I thought, “That’s it?”
Upon deeper reflection, I realized Get Together explains the things we know we ought to do, that we want to do, but don’t. It details how to get started on the most difficult aspects of community building. Even veteran community leaders will find elements of Get Together that they may have put on the backburner. With that in mind, this book is very accessible for beginners to leadership. Unlike The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, Get Together assumes you have no prior knowledge about community building. The first section even starts before your first event.
Get Together Review
Get Together uses wonderful, concise examples to demonstrate their points. When discussing how people create their own “badges,” the word the authors use to refer to symbols of group membership and pride, a short anecdote describes supporter-made merch for Bernie Sanders during the 2016 campaign. “Authentic, shared ownership of the group’s identity only fuels a community’s fire,” the authors conclude before showing a photo of a shirt covered in iconic Bernie photos. The anecdotes don’t drag on over multiple pages but prove their point, show a picture or two, and move on.
In contrast, Priya Parker’s The Art of Gathering takes four pages to tell readers about a spontaneous party in France. I was bored before Parker told readers the lesson this party is supposed to teach because I didn’t pick up the book to read about the Dinner in White. I wanted to learn how to create good gatherings. Instead, Get Together has mastered these anecdotes.
The authors of Get Together keep things simple. I think people with experience as leaders, event organizers, or even enthusiastic community members will still get something out of this short book. For example, I have launched my first event and know how to develop badges, but I had no clue how to write a code of conduct. The code of conduct section was incredibly helpful, and I realized that every community has one, whether or not it is labeled or even written down. It’s much better to develop a code of conduct intentionally at the beginning, rather than realize you tolerated assholes, and they’ve taken hold in your community.
One element that really stuck with me was the short write up on crisis communication, also known as “what to do when you fucked up.” Tips like “Take ownership quickly,” “…acknowledge the negative impact of a decision you made.” “and “Go in deep with key community members” lays out a clear plan of how to deal with conflict. These things may seem simple, but megacorporations and small businesses both fail to follow these steps after making mistakes. A good crisis communication plan means the difference between a happy readership and being “canceled,” justified or not.
Buying Get Together
The hardcover book is beautiful, but much more expensive because of the full-color pictures. I only recommend it if you want an orange coffee table book to match your decor. If you pick up the Kindle book or audiobook, the photos are included. You’ll get a similar experience without the expense or bright orange paperweight.
In conclusion, I recommend Get Together for all people interested in transforming their readers into a community. If you’re part of a leadership team or hoping to start a group, this will definitely provide resources and ideas. Those that are deeply involved in a community, but don’t necessarily have any power may find this to be an invigorating read. Though you may start to see flaws in the communities you’re in, as I did.
Now go out there and get together!