Today I am sharing highlights from my interview with Elizabeth Henson. Elizbeth is a Community and Leadership Specialist who assists creatives and other service-based entrepreneurs to build and attract communities for their brands. I met Elizabeth through the Flodesk (email scheduler) online community. Like I have said before, a community offers endless opportunities to create and nurture business relationships. Elizabeth will share how to build a community around your brand.
Why is it important to build a community around our brands?
The words ‘fans’ or ‘followers’ are used interchangeably to describe persons that form a leader, influencer, or brand’s online community.
Leaders and influencers share one thing in common, and that is community. However, they differ greatly in that a leader inspires or empowers a community or a group of people to become future leaders and better versions of themselves. An influencer is just amassing more followers for a specific product or service.
A leader of a community makes people feel seen and heard. If you can master the ability to cultivate an atmosphere where people feel seen and heard, then you’re going to end up being the loudest and most important person to them. Your fans and followers will constantly come back to you!
Remember – you can build a community outside of social media (Facebook and Instagram) by having your own platform using Circle or Mighty Networks or any other similar service. The magic is actually in those real-life in person relationships. If we treat people online the same way that we treat them offline, it becomes actually 10x easier to build a community.
How to build community?
It can be done in three steps:
- Share Your Journey and Vulnerability to build trust
- Nurturing your community and giving more than you get
- Extending the Invitation
Step # 1: Sharing the Journey
People trust leaders, and anytime you feel unsure how to show up for your community, go back to that mentor or person you envision as a leader. See what they would have done to lead a community and build trust.
Share your journey, including both the ups and the downs. Be vulnerable and transparent to your audience so that they understand what it is you went through to be the leader or expert that you are today. Normally we don’t want to share the mess-ups because we want to be taken seriously. But what that does in turn is it sets the wrong expectation and then people look to us as someone that they can never become.
People don’t want to look to a leader who only shows the things that they’re good at. They want to see a leader whose real and someone that they can actually resonate with.
Consistency builds trust, therefore, you must show up consistently in order to build trust with your audience or your community. You do not have to post every single day on social media or have perfectly curated content to be considered as showing up. The magic is in the real life, in-person relationships (or virtually through Zoom) where you engage directly with your audience.
Be inventive! If you can’t find something that fits your needs or those of other persons, don’t be afraid to create it. Lead the way even if it’s messy. Be the solution!
“How we view our business, how we view the way that we show up in the world and who we need to become is going to actually determine what becomes possible” – Elizabeth Henson
Step #2: Nurture your Clients/Customers
This involves nurturing your clients or potential customers, where you model the kind of support that you want, i.e. modelling what you want in return.
Create an atmosphere where you make them feel seen and feel heard, they will remember that forever. Even if it’s one person, continue to show up for that person. Meet your community where they are and stand out to them as that person who notices them. Position yourself as a big fish in a small pond.
Connect with one person every day, and then gradually it will add up to 365 people that could potentially make up your community who will then go out to touch another group of persons and so on. This creates a ripple effect that will change the world!
Step 3: Extend the Invitation
Nobody cares about what we’re doing if we don’t remind them how we are solving a problem. Constantly remind people of what you do, what problem/pain point you solve, why you’re passionate about it and why you’re the best person. Once you do all of that, invite them to join you on the journey.
But if you’re showing up and you genuinely care and you have a solution that could help, you’re doing a disservice by not offering your service or product or whatever it is that you have to offer the world.
Make someone’s path very simple to work with you. Master that elevator pitch so that it’s always super light and easy for them to work with you. If it’s complicated, they’re going to lose interest.
Here are three things that you can do today to get the ball rolling on the three steps listed above. Once you’re done with them, you can tag Elizabeth on Instagram @Elizabeth.Henson where she’ll come show you some love and hang out with you guys.
- What can you share today that you wouldn’t normally share? This can be anything that feels a little bit uncomfortable.
- Who can you recognize today that isn’t already in your circle or network?
- And then what can you ask for or remind people of what you do, so that you can like simplify that path and invite people on your journey?
And I want you to know mama, as always I am here rooting for you and you are not alone on this journey.