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Why Building Community Is Harder Than It Looks

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Why Building Community Is Harder Than It Looks

This past month I was able to experience community in its most potent sense on two separate occasions, and I came away with an important insight about building community.

Marketers today realize that a vibrant, engaged, loyal community is perhaps the greatest asset a brand can possess and often leads to an extremely profitable enterprise – whether that’s the intent of the organization or not.

The challenge is that the kind of community described above doesn’t appear through some magic marketing trick – building a strong community around your brand is difficult, elusive, and fragile.

In fact, most people that achieve this goal can’t tell you how they do it, but I think I may have unlocked a starting point.

I belong to many strong communities, but there are three I would like to share to illustrate what I’ve witnessed as the key element of successful community building.

Warning: This is also a bit of an open love letter to some very dear friends.

World Domination Summit

Chris Guillebeau

The first is the World Domination Summit [1] community started and nurtured by Chris Guillebeau [2].

I had the great honor of presenting to this group [3] during its annual conference of 3000+ attendees, and it’s as unique a speaking experience as I’ve ever had. The principles of the community are Community, Adventure, and Service and its members are some of the most engaged, truth-seeking, entrepreneurs I’ve ever met.

The conference sells out every year well in advance, and while plenty goes on during the main stage presentations, hundreds of mini-conferences happen in coffee shops and parks all week long. People want to be a part of this community to see what they can contribute; it’s a pretty remarkable thing.

Pamely

Pam Slim
This one isn’t so much a community as it is a force. Pam Slim [4] has one of the most committed communities of friends and family I’ve ever encountered and yet the only real formal element of this structure is that you be an open, caring, loving, giving person – these are not her rules, these are who she is, and it attracts like a beacon.

Friends kiddingly suggest that as soon as you get to know her, you become a member of the “Pamely.”

Pam recently contributed to the conference of my network of Duct Tape Marketing Consultants by hosting a pre-conference day at her new entrepreneurial space in Mesa called K’é [5] and introducing us to and arranging for several other amazing presenters such as Susan Baier [6], Skip Miller [7], and Park Howell [8].

She is the ultimate connector, and people know that if she connects you with someone, they will honor that connection completely.

Pam wants to meet you, wants to know your story, wants to hang out with you as long as you care to, and she wants to welcome you into her family.

Heroic Public Speaking

Michael and Amy Port
The final example I’ll point to is Michael and Amy Port’s Heroic Public Speaking [9]. Heroic Public Speaking a brand of speaking and performance training that Michael and Amy offer to seasoned and fledgling speakers around the world.

I have known Michael for many years and been exposed to their training sessions on six or seven occasions. Watching them work with speakers is both inspirational and somewhat mesmerizing. It is a rare leadership gift to be able to honestly tell someone what they are doing wrong and at the same time make them feel so cared for.

Members of the HPS family support and help each other on their journey to become better speakers and some of the biggest names in the speaking industry fall all over themselves to contribute to this community in any way possible.

If you are not a part of one or more of these communities, set a goal for 2017 – go to WDS, visit Pam at K’é, and join the HPS community in some fashion.

So what makes each of these tick?

The obvious thread is this – These are online communities that allow people to connect more deeply through offline human interaction. Members cheer for each other and embrace each other with every chance they get.

In all three examples, the leaders are the fire starters, but community members advance the flame.

But, I would like to suggest that the magic in these communities comes from something that goes unnoticed and most members can’t articulate.

The magic is not in what Chris, Pam, and Amy and Michael do – the magic lies in what happens to people when they do it.

The magic is not in what Chris, Pam, and Amy and Michael do – the magic lies in what happens to people when they do it.

I can’t tell you how to bottle this, but I do know that all strong communities have this in common – Transformation, over information and inspiration, is the ultimate focus.

We all love good information, we are drawn to those who inspire, but we thirst for transformative experiences with ever fiber of our being and every dollar in our wallet.

So, let’s apply that to you – The magic in building your community lies not in what you do, but in what happens to people when you do it.

Work with that idea.

Focus your efforts on transforming people’s lives rather than spreading your knowledge and your community will flourish.

References

  1. ^ World Domination Summit (worlddominationsummit.com)
  2. ^ Chris Guillebeau (chrisguillebeau.com)
  3. ^ great honor of presenting to this group (worlddominationsummit.com)
  4. ^ Pam Slim (pamelaslim.com)
  5. ^ K’é (pamelaslim.com)
  6. ^ Susan Baier (audienceaudit.com)
  7. ^ Skip Miller (m3learning.com)
  8. ^ Park Howell (businessofstory.com)
  9. ^ Michael and Amy Port’s Heroic Public Speaking (heroicpublicspeaking.com)
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