My number one lesson: That it’s better to have connection than community if you want to achieve greatness.

What’s the difference? Community is a group of people who may have something in common, but don’t necessarily know each other. Connections are fewer, deeper, and result in change and action. If a community does cause change, it’s not because they are a community. It’s because there are connections.

If you want to climb blog rankings, have a well known name, earn ad-revenue, sell product, then you need to play the numbers game. The volume game. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it means you need to blog regularly. It means you gear your whole site up towards maximum views. It means you have to write short, rehashed content that gets the attention of eyeballs, and doesn’t expect to hold the attention for long.

Essentially, your community is about hits more than heart.

If you are not concerned with climbing blog rankings, and are less interested in having fame and more interested in developing a small following that talk regularly, that aim to achieve goals together, who inspire each other and have a high degree of emotional buy in, then your aims are different. You not about volume. You are about value. This means you’re open, honest, and discuss your current failures (not just the ones from years ago), so that you can learn from each other. It means you write according to what your group is discussing at the time. You don’t write for them, you write with them.

Your connections are more about heart than hits.

If you want the gold, go for the former. And that’s fine if you do – really – it is.

If you want to achieve greatness (not fame – this is about doing, not receiving), then go for the latter.

My plan for 2010? Have connections that achieve considerable greatness this year – that tangibly make a difference. Who’s with me?

Actionable Summary

  • Make your mind up. Do you want gold or greatness? If gold, then build community. If greatness, then build connections.

Leading Questions

  • What do you want, really?
  • Are you building community or connections? Or is this just plain semantics?
  • Are you with me?

Archived Comments

  • witneyaccountants

    Thanks Scott – you have inspired me to start writing my blog – it will follow soon. My wife has also ready David Allen’s book – getting things done – I now am more organised!

  • http://radsmarts.com Robin Dickinson

    Excellent, Scott. Man, we’ve talked our way around this topic.

    I’m with you on ‘value’ before ‘volume’. Give me a lean, tight group of cooperative team-players who understand each other’s needs and help them get it, and I start to get very excited. This is a group who can have a major impact.

    The trouble with volume is that it comes and goes, ever chasing the headline-hugging fads, fashions and trends.

    A volume-strategy is two miles wide and two inches deep. Think pizza.

    A value-strategy is two inches wide and two miles deep. Think gold-mine.

    The key is to choose. Make a decision as to what strategy you are going to focus on and stick to it. Avoid mixture at all costs. ;)

    And congratulations on the ‘tightening’ of your post layouts. Top shelf.

    Best, Robin :)

  • http://twitter.com/Ed_Oldfield Ed Oldfield

    Hi Scott, great post, right to the central issue of online relationships.
    I’m interested in how your thoughts apply to media brands. We need the volume connections to compete in a highly competitive market, particuarly to achieve decent search engine rankings. We need the audience to make the ads pay.
    But I absolutely agree that creating deeper connections will add extra value to the relationship. And it may also offer an opportunity to pull in more revenue. The more you know about your audience, the better you can target niches. I’m talking about with consent, not just pushing ads at people.
    After all, without revenue, news from trusted reliable sources – i.e. created by paid journalists – is unlikely to propser.

  • Scott Gould

    Hey Alan,

    Go for it! Let me know when you start it and where it is so I can read!

  • Scott Gould

    Hey Robin.

    Totally – volume is a chasing game. Value lasts through fads and fashions. I agree.

    So – gold or greatness? In order to deliver on greatness, the next thing we need is a project to work on.


  • Scott Gould

    Hey Ed

    As we discussed a while ago, the future of publishing seems to be in personalised news streams – high connection – higher value, less volume.

    I think the reality is that when your aim is gold – and not greatness – then forging connections will always be second place to you. Even companies that are wealthy by providing value strive for greatness first – they love their work – think fashion houses, Apple, etc. When you read the biographies of their top guys, they are all striving for greatness.

    Turn to many companies, and there isn’t this striving for greatness. And without it, I just don’t think connections and value will matter to them more than the short term hits of volume.

  • http://treypennington.com treypennington

    Golden photo. What the photo represents, or embodies, illustrates your point beautifully.

    The eight month lead up to that photo had it’s genesis in one tweet between two people who were looking for gold (both discovering and developing gold). That tweet was followed by a determination to get together face-to-face and involved some risk—both willing to risk some time and money. It’s obvious the initiative, time, risk, money and effort were all more than worth it.

    It’s interesting to note: the value is obvious…in hindsight. There was faith in value in the beginning, but no way to anticipate or measure the value in the beginning. The value came in the doing.

    PS. 100 posts. Congrats.

  • Scott Gould

    Trey – in 4 weeks, you’ll be here again!