Community Building 101: Inviting Brilliant People into Your Life
This is the second post in a series about finding, creating, and growing a community of people who have your back, in business or in life. Whether it’s online or in-person, free or paid, having a community of people who understand and support you can move you toward your goals faster than ever. To read the first post in this series, click here.
If you were here last week, you’ll remember that I mentioned making a list of the badass people that you want to be a part of your company’s/life’s steering committee. A steering committee is another word for an advisory board, but another way to think about it is to choose the people that you would want to bounce ideas off of, and who would have a good perspective on issues you may be facing.
So now that you have a list of amazing people that you’d love to be in community with, here’s what you should do next to actually get them in a room with you.
Decide if you prefer an in-person community or an online community.
I’m a BIG fan of in-person communities, especially as an online entrepreneur, because I work at home and I live alone, and I’m an extrovert. I strongly believe that today, with so many more online entrepreneurs and people working remotely, that we're losing our sense of community in-person, and people are CRAVING better in-person experiences. It's INSANE the amount of people who are frustrated with the online landscape, and use in-person connections to really bolster and improve their businesses. If you're not meeting up or hosting in person events, then you're not truly building a community of people who both support YOU and are supported BY YOU.
For me (and most entrepreneurs), having a group of people that I can get together with once a month in-person, and then have supplementary, 1:1 meetings with throughout the month if I need more support, is crucial to my own sanity.
Plus, expanding into a local market, getting to know other creatives in my town, and getting a lens on what other people are doing to make their businesses work locally is super important for my own marketing and growth efforts.
On the other hand, maybe you like never having to exit your house and the thought of braving public transportation or after-work traffic gives you hives. Or, maybe just the thought of getting out of yoga pants is not in your business plan.
Plus, you live in a rural community that doesn’t have many people doing what you’re doing OR you don’t live in an epicenter of creativity and innovation, and want outside perspectives. A digital community with people from all over the world may be for you.
There are positives and negatives to both types of groups (though in-person definitely drives faster connections and results), but once you decide which you prefer, it’s important that you as the organizer commit to being the driving force behind your gatherings.
Choose about 5 - 6 people from your list that you know that don’t really know each other.
One of the best ways to actually get buy-in for a community is to specifically invite people with the promise that they’ll meet other, vetted, equally-cool people.
I always see on Facebook or in groups people saying “Anyone want to join a mastermind with me? Email for details!”
That’s not a great way of forming a strong community of supporters. You want an A-Team, and while some people that respond to a call like that may be on the A-Team, wouldn’t it be better if you hand-picked your A-Team instead?
Plus, you know what makes people jump on board to something even faster than you can invite them? A personalized invitation that says they’ve been specifically chosen. AND that they will expand their contacts, since they won’t really know anyone else in the group.
Send them an email, detailing your goals and the outcomes you’d like to achieve.
Being invited to a group is always super flattering and, if you've picked your people correctly, they'll respond enthusiastically. Make sure you send these emails individually instead of in a blast format. It’s always better to show a little TLC to people, and it will create even more goodwill and excitement around joining your community.
Setting expectations is crucial, so be sure to include the date, time and location of your meeting, a tentative format of the meeting, and why you've picked them to be a part of the group. People will have a more enthusiastic response if you outline expectations accordingly, and they'll likely be more inclined to join.
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And honestly, this is the PERFECT way to get started with your business, too. The number one thing that I realized about being a successful business owner is that you constantly have to tell people who you are. If you're afraid to reach out to ask people to come to a PAID event, try starting by asking them to come to a free event. Once you build that muscle, it gets easier and easier. What are you waiting for?
What to do if someone says no or never responds.
Don’t take it personally! We are all busy, and sometimes people need different communities at different times in their lives. However, I suspect, if you follow this model, not many people will say no (which is why I only recommend asking 5 -6 people to start with).