Community building is a work of love. As we concluded the last community call for Eligible it’s time to share one year worth of learnings in one post.
Context: Eligible set out to be a community of independent Indian singles on life partner search. While the community calls are over, I continue to take 1:1 sessions, workshops and speaking engagements — on Relationships.
We weren’t building an audience. This was a truly engaged group of people who came together on Zoom calls to discuss their personal lives, their dating journeys, what was working and what wasn’t. These calls were never recorded, no screenshots, no referencing names outside the calls — all this to ensure we make it a safe space for sharing openly. The bonds created between members led to Zeroth dates, repeat participation on calls, more referrals for introductory calls, and a whole lot of memes and links and screenshots from dating journeys that graced my WhatsApp all these months!
- Privacy: People are shy or have privacy concerns in joining a community call when they are not sure who else will be there. Occasionally, we had office colleagues join the same call or Clubhouse members from the same circles join in. That’s when I’d receive Zoom DMs saying they did not want to be in the same breakout rooms for conversations because they’d find it awkward.
- Drop offs: In case someone mustered the courage to show up on a call, they dropped off if they were too early in the journey of life partner search (while thinking others are way ahead of them)
- Sharing: A lot of sharing at length usually happened after we formally ended the session and were left with fewer people (great for discussion but not so much for the tribal knowledge)
- Accountability: Consistent efforts are important and accountability went for a toss when members were free to join and drop off as they liked.
- Gift Economy: This worked on the gift economy — pay as you like, with no upfront cost to the members. Only 10% of people ever paid. This is not the most sustainable way to run a community but it allowed for a safe space to share, grow, drop off, return without the fear of judgment, return to share learnings as alumni (almost felt like a relationship university), bond with people, know that you are not alone in this journey.
- More time: There were occasions when it didn’t feel right to share a forecast/ opinion/ pro-tip without giving a full context of what’s making us think that way. End of the day, some conversations felt more appropriate for a 1:1 involving a longer, fuller discussion to justify the thought process.
To give you a flavour of the diverse nature of conversations, we talked about all these and more — creating a profile on matrimonial websites even if you are 5kgs more than what you’d want to be, dealing with people who hesitate to move from texting to calls, how to avoid friendzoning people all the time, entrusting friends to play cupid, sustaining the momentum in long-distance communication with a matrimonial prospect and navigating dating as an entrepreneur.
I am grateful for your time, stories, and tribal knowledge that came from Eligible community calls. I truly believe in the power of community and would continue to bring people together, in another form.
Update: I’m running a cohort-based course on Dating Better in 2022.