When you think about the word community, what comes to mind? You may think of cookie-cutter homes in a residential suburb, or possibly a group of people you choose to spend your time with every weekend. Communities can vary based on culture, interest, and location. Due to advances in technology, communities can form in the digital space, bringing people together from around the world. According to Merriam-Webster, the word community has two definitions:
- A group of individuals who live in the same area (such as a city, town, or neighborhood)
- A group of people who have the same interests
An Expanding Universe
Today, there are endless pathways and diverse communities to join, and the choices can be overwhelming. For those who are interested in your niche, live interaction and digital communities are beginning to blend.
Building communities in person or within the digital space typically requires similar strategies, and can even have similar goals. Human connection, creating relationships, providing support and running with a sense of purpose and passion all lead to a successful community outcome. Indeed, all of these factors play an integral role in the community. However, it is the acknowledgment that people live within communities, and for that reason alone, every community can and should be considered an ongoing journey.
What does it take to build an active and engaging community that consists of thought-leaders, learners, entrepreneurs, and influencers?
Everything Begins Before You Go Live
The secret to building a robust community always starts with you. If you are working with a team, the connection between co-workers is the fuel that will bring people toward your community with an enduring gravitational pull.
The energy you feel will disperse to those around you, whether the energy is positive or negative. Before shaping your community strategy, it is beneficial to take time for self-reflection and think about how you want to position yourself in an online community. Sit down with your co-workers or peers and discuss the purpose of the community, the roles you can each play, and the strategies you will use to prep before you launch.
Be open with each other, listen and share ideas. If your team does not groove well to the community’s music, take note of that and make changes. The relationships you build behind the scenes of your community are just as important as the ones who come on board in the future.
Remember, the universe is grand, and people are looking for the primary star, which is not just your product; they are looking for you.
Once you have the foundation down, you are ready to design and build.
What do your followers need from you?
You should always remain yourself. Most people can spot a fake personality a mile away. Also, you can only keep up your act for so long. Whether you are the leading astronaut on this mission or a co-pilot, remember to always focus on authenticity. Tell your story and remain true to who you are both online and in person. The alternative will get you nowhere fast. Remember, until you gain trust, you are far away from standing out, and are still part of the universal horizon. Authenticity builds confidence, and that is key to building your community.
Listen. What does this mean? You may think you pay attention all of the time. However, I believe you probably hear more than you listen. It is human nature to mentally prepare a response while another person is speaking to you. Try this idea at home: when you are chatting with someone, mentally prepare to stop your thoughts while the other person is talking. Let the other person finish sharing how he/she feels. Now take the time to process your thoughts and speak. I bet your response will be different this time. Learning to listen takes practice. Close down your mind, listen, think and respond. Prepare your response mentally before speaking.
Be sure you know who your audience is, what problems they face and how you can help. Create great content that assists your spectators in solving their problems. In fact, like a teacher, you are providing education. You add value to the universe when you share your skills, knowledge, and talents. Create information and launch these ideas through blog posts, videos, and webinars.
Respond to people when they ask questions. Return phone calls and emails. Answer questions in Twitter chats. Make introductions to people who could benefit from each other. Participate in ways to help others achieve.
No matter how large your group becomes, remember to remain humble and kind. There is nothing more appealing than staying grounded with a dose of humility. Hold onto that precious piece of your personality and people will always support you. They will also be more inclined to purchase from you.
Last, but not least, always be kind. You should always be considerate to everyone you meet along your journey, not only because you may cross paths in the solar system, but also because it is the right thing to do. Be kind to those who come into your personal and professional life. You will get back so much more than you expected in return.
By following these tips, in a crowded space, you may just stand out as the next influencer in your niche.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.