How to Build a Community – Part 4 of 4
To listen to the podcast episode that features this series, CLICK HERE.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Helen Keller
I’ve been very tuned in to how powerful TOGETHERNESS is since I was a kid. I was raised in a family with six kids. I was an avid athlete on just about every team sport you can imagine. I was always a key leader in school organizations. And as it relates to business, I spent the past 7 years of my life building an in-person entrepreneurial community with my husband. So once the dust settled from the launch of this crazy idea I had called Biz Women Rock, I knew without a doubt that I wasn’t simply producing a podcast or building a business that created products and services…I was building a community.
Google defines community as…
“A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.” Or “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”
Basically, my community was getting created as I gathered my listeners, my supporters, my email readers, my coaching clients, my course students and anyone else who identified with the Biz Women Rock brand and brought them together for a larger purpose.
This is what I’ve been doing since I was a kid. And this is what I love. Because I believe that my purpose is to make a massive impact in the lives of women around the world. And I’ve seen over and over again how creating and leading a community allows me to do that exponentially.
In the past few years, the word “community” has become a bit of a buzzword within the online business space. Everyone is talking about their “community.” They’ve exchanged the words “following” or “tribe” or “email list” or “listeners” or “readers” for community. And while I love this shift to utilizing my favorite multi-dimensional term, my purpose in creating this series is to expose just how intricate this whole building a community thing really is.
I’ve identified seven simple steps to follow in order to build a tremendous community. And I’ve even included some phenomenal advice from some of the most impactful and successful community builders I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing!
This series is broken up into four parts that will be showcased over the next four weeks. So, if you happen to be diving into part 3, make sure you go back and listen to all the previous ones in order to get the full impact of the lessons here.
One final note…
Building a community is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for someone who wants an “easy” business model. Building a community and becoming a leader of one is for someone who wants to make an impact in a profound way on the lives of others, who wants to make ripples in the universe and do it through other people. And as it pertains to business, it’s for someone who believes in giving value to a group of people they truly LOVE (and I don’t use that word lightly) before ever offering products or services for sale…because they understand the value and fragility of having an endless pool of loyal customers who believe in their brand.
So, if you’re listening to this because you want to “build your following online,” you will definitely get some great ideas here. However, I highly recommend you listen with an open mind knowing that building a community is something that happens in an entirely different stratosphere…and maybe, just maybe…you’ll feel called to lean into the possibilities it can open for you to live in your purpose.
So here were go…
HOW TO BUILD A COMMUNITY
Step 6: Help Your Community Members GROW and Make Them Feel Special
Here’s where those who want to be community leaders can really screw up. They focus on the number of people who are a part of their community. And they think that the more people they have, the more “successful” they are. Which inevitably leads to their belief – consciously or unconsciously – that quantity is better than quality. This is a grave mistake and will ultimately dissolve the group.
A great community leader understands that their entire existence relies on the fact that they are able to provide value to ONE PERSON in a way that makes that person feel special (because they are special!). And true success is the ability to scale that equation while maintaining QUALITY. So truly, it doesn’t matter how big your “tribe” is, it matters how deeply each individual person is engaged and how strongly they believe in the community you’ve created.
But, that’s not enough. A community is an ever-evolving, living, breathing entity in and of itself. And in order for it to continue growing, each of its members must continue to grow. The best community leaders understand that they are the ones in the best position to provide growing opportunities for their members as a part of the benefits of the community!
We discussed in detail during Part 3 of this series in step 5 (Give your community what they want) how to best provide products and services that your community members are asking for (and thus how to monetize your community in a way that is a tremendous value exchange). So, I won’t go on my rant about how financially lucrative it can be to create products and services for your community (go listen to the last episode to hear that rant cuz it’s good!). But, I will make a statement to drive this point home: creating products and services that your community members are asking for is a phenomenal way to not only generate revenue, but to fulfill your members’ need to grow as individuals…and thus help evolve the community as a whole!
Because if the community remains static and provides the “same ol’ same ol’,” then what incentive do your members have to stay engaged and active?
In addition to creating products and services, you can provide growth opportunities for your members in other ways. Here’s a quick list of just a few…
- Group challenges: Create some kind of challenge for them to participate in. This can be something as simple as a 7 day challenge that they have to check in about each day and report on at the end of 7 days. Examples: 3 day no sugar challenge, 7 day revenue focus challenge, 5 day meditation challenge.
- Tournament: Create a tournament that members can sign up for and play.
- Weekly Goal Check Ins: Have them state their goal on Monday and then have them report whether they hit their goal or not on Friday. You can up the game by having them track how often they’re hitting their goals.
- Accountability Partners: give members a space where they can connect with other members and find accountability partners. This can work for all kinds of groups where having a “buddy” is beneficial: business, health and fitness, nutrition, art, entertainment…the possibilities are endless.
- Tutorials: Create further education that your members can access through tutorials. These would not be “packaged” as products or services that you sell, but as added benefits of the community.
What is common about most of these ideas is that they are giving members something new to participate in that is different than the daily hum drum of activity. And it is usually something where they can see progress (ie: growth!). When you give them opportunities to see their own growth, you are reinforcing the value they get out of being a part of your community!
One final note about helping your community GROW. And it’s a point that often gets lost in the chaos of community building. There’s a cardinal rule of community building that most leaders themselves don’t quite understand or even know how to articulate.
Choosing the good of the community first will always ensure that the community continues to grow and evolve in a healthy way.
Step 7: Be Unapologetically YOU
You’re probably wondering why something so basic is listed as the 7th and final step of building a community. It’s because even though it’s basic, it’s not so simple. And, if you don’t completely own this step, you will never have a long-lasting community. Because you can be a rock-star leader, but if it ain’t genuinely you showing up at all times, your members will feel it and eventually walk away.
Be authentic. Be real. Be unique. Be genuine. These are all terms that are ridiculously overused these days…so much so that perhaps what they actually mean could be a bit muddled. So, let’s get technical.
Definitions according to Google.
Unique: being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.
Authentic: of undisputed origin; genuine.
Genuine: truly what something is said to be; authentic
Real: not imitation or artificial; genuine.
But Katie, you’re probably saying out loud right now…I already am me. I know how to be REAL. I know how to be GENUINE. Why are we talking about this?
Because BEING YOU as a leader needs to be a conscious decision. Every day. It means leading in a way that feels in line with who you are and your value system. And it will show up in the little choices you have to make all the time for your community.
How do I write an email that garners the engagement I want? BE YOU.
How do I share about my podcast episode within my Facebook Group without coming across as “spammy” and ensuring as many of my members listen to it as possible? BE YOU.
How do I announce a new product to my community without seeming “salesy” and get a big response? BE YOU.
How do I handle a community member who’s disturbing the culture of the entire group? BE YOU.
What can I post today that will really make an impact on everyone? BE YOU.
I want to keep driving it home that being you is constantly being in touch with who you are as a leader and a human being as it relates to your members.
I am a very open person. One of the things that makes me so unique as a leader is that I share some very personal and vulnerable things about my own journey as a business woman. I do this ultimately because I feel fulfilled by doing this, because I feel like there’s no other option than for me to share my story, because I feel inauthentic if I pretend to be the leader who knows everything about everything and doesn’t show that I, too, struggle. The fact that my community members are impacted by this, are moved by my openness and are ultimately empowered because of my ability to share my vulnerabilities is a huge added bonus! But this element of honesty is what makes me unique as a leader. It’s what gives depth to my brand and my community. It’s what makes Biz Women Rock – and Katie as the leader of Biz Women Rock – like no other women’s business community out there!
Yes, I know who I am, but knowing who I am and choosing to show up authentically as a leader in front of a lot of people are very different things.
When I share a video in my Facebook Group of me in the thick of a really tough moment for me and my business, explaining why I feel so down, why I’m struggling and what lesson I’m learning from the hardship I’m going through, I’m BEING UNAPOLOGETICALLY ME.
And, it resonates.
Twenty nine comments later, I know that BEING ME is the glue that ultimately holds my entire community together.
When I shared in Episode 253 about how to get out of dark moments in business by sharing a really dark moment that I had and had to work through, I am being unapologetically me.
When I share a blog post about how I actually made money from my podcast in the first 18 months of launching, talking honestly about numbers, I am being unapologetically me.
The point is, DECIDING to show up as the REAL ME every day is just that: a conscious decision. And it’s one that my members respect and resonate with.
It’s the reason your community will show up time and time again for you…because when you’re unapologetically YOU, you create a unique community they literally CANNOT get anywhere else. Because there’s only one of you. 🙂
And PS: You don’t have to be perfect at this right away. Just keep practicing! Try stuff out! Experiment with what feels authentic and right for you and you’ll soon discover your own differentiator.
How You Know You’re Doing It Right
I hope that one thing has been abundantly clear throughout all these 7 steps…that community building takes a willingness to change, experiment and evolve. So the only thing I can tell you as someone who is either thinking about starting a community or knee deep into running one already is: KEEP DOING IT.
You may feel like you’re spinning your wheels, but eventually, you’ll get feedback telling you that you are RIGHT ON.
They’ll share your information on social media because they’ve been impacted by it.
They’ll take the time to give you a shout out on social media, thanking you for what you do.
They’ll thank you for the resources you provide.
They’ll purchase things you offer them.
Your community members will tell you when you’re doing this whole community building thing correctly. And, more importantly, you’ll feel it in your gut. You’ll know you’re making an impact, even if you’re not going as fast as you like, if you’re not yet bringing in the income you would like, if you’re not the leader you know you can be quite yet or if you don’t have as many community members as you would like yet.
You’ll know, in your gut, in the core of your soul…that YOU are the reason that YOUR COMMUNITY exists. And therefore, YOU are the reason that an incredible space has been created to truly impact people’s lives.
This concludes our 4 part series on How to Build a Community! If you are interested in starting your own community, or you have a community already but want to turn up the engagement with your members, make sure to check out my course Facebook Groups Rock! As we discussed in Part 1, Facebook Groups are an incredible way to house your community in a way that allows for relationships to build dynamically! Go to BizWomenRock.com/facebookgroupsrock to find out more!