Let’s not sugarcoat things. The world of online business can be pretty brutal at times.
You could be an expert in your field + have the most epic content. You could sell a life-changing product or service + have a winning personality. But if you don’t have the attention + support of a community of people who know that, get ready for an uphill battle.
Community is not only necessary to online business owners, its just plain awesome.
Whether you’re just starting out + need guidance and support, or you’re a seasoned pro looking for like-minds to jam on ideas + collaborate with; belonging to a group of people who are IN IT with you, is seriously the best thing ever.
And, whats’s even cooler... growing your very own community can be extremely beneficial when it’s time to launch products or services.
Why is that?
A little thing called "KNOW. LIKE. TRUST."
The warmest audience you will ever have, are the people who feel like they already know you.
If you intentionally spend time nurturing your own little online subdivision, by providing them with value and offering your support, they will start to feel like they know you + they will know that they can trust you.
Then, when you have something amazing to offer, they will most likely be the first people to jump, because they totally LOVE YOU. (so, it really should be called Know. Love. Trust.)
Community sounds pretty great, right?! #YASSSS. But how do you grow one?
Let me share some seeds of wisdom for you to plant in your own community garden…
1. CREATE INSPIRED ACTION.
Communities can be formed around something very simple + actionable. Creating your own challenge is a great way to do that.
The Gram Gang community seemed to sprout, (hehe, get it, sprout...like in a garden🌱), overnight simply because I offered something to my target audience that many of them actually needed. By providing a daily Instagram prompt and a branded hashtag, the community grew organically. Plus, participating the challenge gets people real results, which makes them super excited, so they share it with their friends, and so on, and so forth.
This single idea has allowed me to share my expertise with a larger audience, and my community has really taken off.
So, think about how you can use what you do to help your target audience + then create inspired action with a simple challenge or activity. Show them you know your stuff, give them the results + they will be anxious for more.
2. GIVE MORE THAN YOU TAKE.
It’s important that your budding community not feel like they are just there to hear your sales pitches 24/7. People don’t particularity like to be sold to.
It will be much easier to grow your network if you come from a place of service rather than selling.
I mean, I totally get it, we're in business to make money. When people ask for help + you've got a product that's perfect for them, it's tough not to ram it down their throats. But rarely does that ever work.
Instead of pitching immediately, think about how can you educate, advise or just be there for your people. Follow the 80/20 rule + try to focus on being super helpful. The rest will happen naturally, I promise.
3. LET IT GET BIGGER THAN YOU.
As your community grows, it’s important to remember that your job as the leader is to facilitate, not suffocate.
You don’t need to answer every question yourself. You don't need to worry that someone inside of your community might be better at something than you, (I assure you, as your community grows, someone will be).
Even though you're the head honcho, you should allow other people to speak up + show their expertise. Encourage collaboration within your group + create opportunities for people to meet.
You actually WANT people to find each other and network. The beauty of this is that it’s YOUR community that has allowed this connection to be made. People won’t forget that, and they will love being a part of the group because of it.
4. UNDERSTAND WHO YOU’RE SERVING.
Of course, in order to build a super engaged community. You should be fairly certain of your ideal member’s needs + pain points.
Who is it that you’re trying to help with the creation of your community? What do they need from the group in order to want to stay in long-term + be active?
Really understanding the "WHY" + the "WHO" behind your community will help you set up an ideal situation for them. You will be able to provide more targeted talking prompts, group activities, and resources.
Nobody wants to join a boring community where no one is participating.
Knowing what the community wants + needs is key to keeping them excited + involved. Once you start to grow your community, ask them what they like/don't like about the group, find out what you could do for them in order to make things more enjoyable + valuable.
They will most likely tell you exactly what they need + then you can be the hero + totally deliver.
5. BE PRESENT
Now I know that I said your role as the leader in your community should be to facilitate. But you still have to SHOW UP. One way or another, you must be present in your community regularly.
If your group is hosted on Facebook, a Slack channel, or in a forum, you should try to pop in throughout the week to moderate + offer assistance where you can.
I totally understand being busy, so you could try setting designated office hours, so people know when they will have scheduled access to you.
You could also try a weekly scheduled Twitter chat or use Google Hangouts for community participation.
There are so many different ways to organize your community. Just remember, this type of thing is not a “set it + forget it” scenario. Your time is definitely required + consistency keeps things running smoothly.
The benefits of creating a community are endless. Whether you want to limit the number of people in your group to keep it intimate + focused, like a mastermind; or you want to create a large community forum for broader audience interaction; together- people can move mountains.
So, do you have an epic community? Are you part of a group that keeps you inspired?
I’d love to hear about it below…