3 Ways to Build Community Online (and Grow Your Business)
There are many ways to find customers and clients online, but nothing beats building a community of people who know you and love your work. Finding new customers for your programs, products and services is exhausting and expensive. It's also not a sustainable long term strategy. Building relationships with people you serve brilliantly is hands down the best business choice you'll ever make.
Building relationships can sound like a lot of work, but it doesn't have to be if you understand how you can leverage your time and talent with technology. My favorite tool for building relationships, and community, are online events. Admittedly these require a bit more elbow grease but there are some easier options, as I'll share below. Online events have been my business building tool for over a decade.
At last count I've hosted 30+ online events, usually in the form of 30-day events or telesummits. That does not include the 200+ interviews I've hosted or the hundreds I've given. I've used multiple formats for these events, webcast, bridgelines and Facebook Groups. All of these online community building opportunities are priceless and they can be leveraged to share your message with even more people.
Building a community will help you grow your raving fans. Many of my participants join me over and over again. Some of my event participants have been with me for almost 14 years now. Building your online community is an opportunity to gather with like-minded people and build connections that last.
At one time, finding my kind of people was a huge challenge. Not anymore.
Is It Hard To Find Your Kind of People In Your Local Community?
I've been doing the work of personal transformation for decades now. It used to be that I'd travel to New York City to meet like minded people. There is nothing quite like gathering with others who share your values and vision, support your world view and are willing to go on the journey with you. I spent many a weekend at the Open Center studying tarot, reflexology, holistic nutrition, herbal medicine and finding work you love. I traveled to countless workshops to bask in the wisdom of Susan Weed, Carolyn Myss, Rick Jarrow, Mary K Greer, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson and many more. Yes, I wanted to learn from these luminaries. Even more, I wanted to find other people like me.
I've been a voracious reader on all things metaphysical, holistic and spiritual for decades. At one time my library was wall to wall, floor to ceiling with every transformative author imaginable. My family and friends have never pulsed to the same heartbeat that I do. The only time I could share these deeply guarded interests was by participating in trainings, retreats and workshops. Imagine my delight and joy when I discovered I could quickly and easily connect with a like-minded community with just a phone.
Contrary to public perception, I am not extroverted (unless I'm hanging out with my own peeps or speaking on my passions). I'm more of an innie. I fondly call myself a strange ranger, lone ranger. I like to spend a good amount of time alone. My favorite pastimes are reading and delicious dialogue. I prefer an intimate gathering to a large and loud group. It's all about quality, not quantity. I have taught myself how to be more outgoing with strangers, but it doesn't come naturally. As a matter of fact, it takes a good deal of effort. Having my own community has gifted me the ability to be myself completely. So, if you don't find a community that's a perfect fit, it's time for you to go out and create it!
3 Ways to Build Your Online Community
You may have help with some of it, but you are the guiding force ensuring that your gathering goes off without a hitch. In the online world here's what that looks like:
1. Host a Community Call. This is the simplest method to build community. Host a monthly community call on topics of interest to your community. When I was a Community Coach at Coachville we used to introduce a topic and host a discussion. Make sure to prepare a topic description and come up with 5-7 provocative questions to stir up an interesting discussion. Post the call description on your blog, give some highlights of the call and list the questions. Find a free bridgeline to host your call (or a professional bridgeline if you want premium features) and announce it to your community. When you're done, write up a blog post about the discussion, sharing the learning points and post the recording
2. Create an Online Group. Social Media has made this so easy. Make sure to create the group on your home social media site, the one you spend the most time on. Whether it's a Facebook Group or a Google Community, create a description that includes who it's for and what it's about. Check out the description for my Evolutionary Adventurers Facebook Group. Join us!
Decide what kinds of things you'll share. Think of the issues your community is struggling with and cover them in your daily posts. Set guidelines so that members have a framework for the experience you are creating. Make sure to include questions and ask for feedback. Create a dialogue, not a broadcast.
3. Host an Online Event. By far, this is the juiciest option, although I host all three of these community building events. There is quite a lot of detail to hosting an online event and it is certainly not for newbies (unless you're highly motivated). I'm sharing the 5 Elements of Hosting Engaging Online Events in an upcoming free training webinar on Friday, December 2, at 12pm ET. Mark your calendar! Registration page will be up soon. You'll learn how to plan, host and deliver an online event that builds your community and grows your business.
Building an online community for your body of work, and your business, is one of the best investments you'll ever make. It will connect you to clients and customers, and even colleagues, in an environment where you shine and share your solutions for a community that knows, likes and trusts you. Business growth is an organic outcome of building your community. Let me know if you need any help with growing yours.
About the Author
Adela Rubio writes and speaks on awakening your creative essence with the power of collaboration and community. She's hosted 20+ Women's Writing Circles, 30-Day Adventures, and Telesummits.