Community Building at NEAR
“So what are you working on at NEAR Protocol”
Roughly a year back, I started speaking with the team at NEAR about communities. I wanted to take on a new challenge. I’ve always had breaks between my crypto roles(just cuz crypto can be a bit much🤷🏽♂️), but now I was excited to take on this “new role” at NEAR.
As they say about roles at startups- “We’re always hiring and most of the roles aren’t even on the website😉”. The community role wasn’t on the website, so I had no idea what I was interviewing for(which wasn’t surprising as the initial conversations happened on Twitter DMs📬). I spoke with 5 different team members and had 5 different ideas of what they’d envision me, or rather, ‘us’, as the community team(of two), do.
My goal was pretty simple- I wanted to bring all the goodness of the community experience from the traditional Web 2 world into this space that’s filled with moonboys🚀 and degens. Ya know, stuff that makes your community interactions memorable and things that aren’t scalable? Yeah, all of that & more!
I’m a huge fan of how Tony Hsieh(RIP) built Zappos around incredible customer service and I used to wonder about the challenge of building a customer support team that literally talks to you about anything, and helps you find an item and purchase it, even if it’s not on Zappos.
Take money from marketing and put it into providing the best possible customer service. What would that look like in the community space? 🤔
We also had the opportunity to work with some amazing individuals & organizations to help us with this journey through consultations, team trainings and workshops.
What’s unique about the community at NEAR?
We’re building an ecosystem of decentralized communities (notice how I said communities and not community? More on that soon🙂). But think of NEAR as foundation that enables you to build different types of communities.
The idea of not trying to shove a product/technology down people’s throats, but really try to see how we can partner with them in a meaningful way or empower them with what they’re already doing, was really exciting to me.
With the NEAR Guilds program, it was almost like working at multiple companies at the same time because you’re building so many different types of communities. For my community builder friends-
- Community of Interest
- Community of Practise
- Internal community
There’s an element of all of the above with the NEAR Guilds and communities because of how diverse these communities are.
Throughout the week, I get to speak with current guild leads or community members wanting to start their own guilds.
From army officers building out projects and POCs to Xooglers running community & startup initiatives. From fun NFT festivals in Berlin to prison art project for incarcerated individuals in Florida. From creatives and artists to music and VR. From Nigeria🇳🇬 to China🇨🇳, from Vietnam🇻🇳 to Russia🇷🇺, from Korea🇰🇷 to Mexico🇲🇽. We’re really stoked to be able to support a global community with bringing their incredible ideas to fruition.
Over the last couple of months, we’ve deployed over 1.6 Million USD across various community projects. We have supported over 600+ projects with roughly 500k USD in funding just through DAOs. Over the next couple of months, we want to empower more community run DAOs and decentralize funding even more. Speaking of decentralization, we’ve handed over the keys to the NEAR Medium account to the community.
You could consider community as a startup within NEAR, given that we work on everything from platforms, governance, community building, forums, storytelling, contributor experience, funding and more!
Things I’m excited about
I get way too excited about a bunch of different things that we’re doing at NEAR and projects that our community are working on. But here are 5 things that excites me right now:
- Community Operating System: To me, this is a combination of People, Playbooks & Platforms — 3Ps (just because it sounds cooler, is easier to remember, but also is an accurate representation of what we’re building).
- Self sustaining NEAR Guilds in the ecosystem
- Building regional communities and offline hubs(in countries & cities where it’s safe to do so)
- Supporting really interesting community projects like NEARCrowd and Telegram bots that allow you to participate and interact with DAOs.
- Jamming on some insane partnership & market ideas with the NEAR collective and community.
In the coming weeks, I’d love to talk more different guild models within the NEAR ecosystem and the projects that some of the guilds are working on.
I’m excited to be able to work with some really smart people across the organization, some of whom I’d seen on documentaries before🤯! Our guild leads and members also come from very diverse backgrounds and interests.
On the core community team, we started as a team of 2 and have grown to a team of 8, across multiple timezones, all working remotely.
We’re also a pretty fun bunch, if I may say so myself. We host surprise birthday parties for our colleagues and do awkward things like ask themt o blow out the candles on the virtual zoom cakes🎂😉.
If you want to be a part of this exciting journey, we’re also hiring for several roles on the community team at NEAR and we’d love for you to join us! Here are some roles we’re hiring for right now:
- Online Community Manager [Ideally with Discourse experience]
- Developer Advocacy Lead [Ideally with Rust experience]
Even if you’re not looking for a full time role, but want to be involved in some capacity, want to start your own guild, build an offline community or maybe just want to say hello and make some new friends, don’t hesitate to write to us at community[@]near[dot]org. We’re also always looking to work with community builders and generalists. Drop me a line at shreyas[@]near[dot]org.
I’m hoping to write more starting now. Yeah, I know it’s a weird time to start a writing resolution, but hey, if you’d like to tag along in this journey of learning and working openly, smash that like button, subscribe to my cha..oh wait..nevermind. Just follow or something. If you have any feedback or want to learn about something specific, tweet me @dun3buggi3.