Do you think of yourself as being part of a community? Sometimes it feels as if modern life is increasingly isolated and we’re all living in our own little bubbles. For me, that notion disappears as soon as I arrive at the school gates or my local toddler group. I suppose that’s one of the benefits of living in a village, although sometimes the level of gossip gets a bit overwhelming.
For me, building community means seeking out people who share my life experiences. I feel at home amongst other tired parents and busy business women. There’s just a level of understanding that makes communication more straightforward.
Increasingly, I’m finding my communities online as well as in the real world. That’s particularly crucial when it comes to business. There are a fair few self-employed people in my village but there are loads of them online.
Building a business community
Finding people who understand you and your business is a crucial part of your marketing. Building a business community of people who rave about your work and recommend you means that you’re getting publicity for free. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have to put the effort in though, quite the reverse.
Finding your fans
Turning your customers into evangelists is one thing. It’s also something for a different blog post. First of all, you need to go and seek people out. You can find potential fans in Facebook groups, networking groups, on LinkedIn, Twitter (particularly the local networking hours), Quora and other people’s blogs. Search for groups where people are interested in the same things as you. You might think that you’ll only find competition but even people in the same profession as you won’t have the same specialisms.
How do you go about building a community in real life? Do you run up to people and bombard them with information about who you are and what you do without pausing for breath? I’m hoping you didn’t say yes.
Building a community online is very similar to doing it in real life. Start gently. Get involved in conversations and comment where you have something to offer. Ask questions and thank people when they help you. This applies both in groups and on your own page.
If someone comments on your blog or one of your posts, make sure you reply. Unless they’re a troll. If someone is just being rude, delete their comment and block them. You won’t change their mind and responding just gives them oxygen.
Try to relate with your audience on a personal level. The usual rules of content apply; people want to hear about things they’re interested in. They also want to know that you understand their lives. I don’t recommend sharing your dirty laundry in public but offer something of yourself that your audience can relate to.
Do you have any advice on building a business community? Drop me a comment below!