A lot of companies and organizations try to create online communities. That’s easy and hard. It’s easy to create a place for people to congregate. It’s hard to get the people there.If you want people to join, you have to give them a very good reason. Unless you already have a critical mass of highly engaged people, very few people are going to hang out in your community for the sake of hanging out. They will come to solve a problem, find information or make an announcement — when they are consistently reminded those resources are there.We forget this simple reality all the time. We think because we create a space, its existence is enough to get people to fill it.Who does this well? Via my friend Alia McKee, here’s a wonderful example of an organization that has positioned its community so very well – front and center. The message? Iraq and Afghanistan veterans: We have your back.Visit the site here.If you’re trying to start a community, remember: 1. Don’t build to a concept, build to people. People don’t look for a social network to join – they look for people like them. Networking technology is about NETWORKING – being amidst people like us – more than it’s about the tools or technology. So don’t build a network because you think you have a great concept – build a network because you have a real group of people that wants to spend time together, connecting. 2. Don’t try to create a constituency, serve one. Related to my first point, focus on serving an audience rather than creating one. Start with a passionate constituency – even a small one – and help it grow with your tools. 3. It’s the cause, not the structure (or network) around it, that compels action. People give money because they feel moved to make a difference for a specific cause – because the cause is important to them, moves them, or matters to friends or family. It’s that simple. 4. Communities are nice, but the most important relationship (and the deepest) is the one-on-one connections – the connections between the donor and the cause, the donor to their friend, etc. Focus on that in all you do with networking or any outreach at all.