community: it’s the heart of your biz

i’ve just come back from an awesome time at the problogger conference here in australia. this is the third year i’ve gone. for me, the first time around it was all about learning. the second time it was all about building relationships. this time, the theme for me was community.

this year, rather than going to the strategic sessions (like SEO, and podcasts, and email marketing) i was drawn to the more keynote style sessions… and the thing that jumped out at me over and over was the importance of building your community.

pat flynn gave an amazing key note that was about turning readers into fans – and it was very very similar to a post i wrote last year on building a fandom of raving fangirls who crazy love you. i did a little dance in my seat to think that i think like pat!

he said if you want to change somebody’s life, start by changing their day first. 

and he said that raving fans aren’t created the moment people discover you, their created by the moments you create for them over time.

what an awesome goal to have!

chris ducker talked about the fact that we hear about B2B businesses, and B2C businesses, but what we should be talking about is P2P – people to people. he gave amazing examples of businesses who do P2P really well, and those that don’t.

he said that good P2P will elevate your brand to the point where fans send you cookies in the mail!

and he said that your community will determine what the business of you actually becomes.

geraldine deruiter talked about being relatable, being transparent, being YOU and having a point of view. she encouraged us to cultivate a relationship with our fans… replying to emails & tweets, she said think of how excited YOU get when people you follow respond to you!

and she said that there are people out there who are waiting to love you.

nikki parkinson talked about building an online community you love. she reminded us that communication is a two way street and encouraged us to engage in conversations – ask questions, listen, respond. 

and she said the more you give the more you receive.

chantelle ellem talked about the community she has built through social media, and in her stories stressed over and over that her community comes first. she cares about her followers deeply and protects that community above all else. 

she said the best work you can do is to show up. grow your audience by showing a bit of you.

and she said strategy is out, happiness is in.

(damn i love that!)

they all shared deeply personal stories about meeting members of their community and taking those opportunities to have meet ups or to engage in conversations and hear those stories. 

it really was the theme that stood out to me the most.

and while i was there, i myself got to engage with members of my community. 

i met up with online friends who i haven’t seen since last problogger, and made some new friends too!

i met up with members of the online groups i am a part of such as lucky bitch, b-school, and the ROOAR dream big community. 

i met up with women in biz who i admire and a few fangirl moments of my own.

best of all i met up with customers and clients and readers who have been a treasured part of the build a little biz community.

hugs from these ladies are the best hugs ever!

last year at problogger i met the lovely amanda, and we had a great chat about biz. she found me again this year to tell me that our chat last year made a big difference to her biz and her life, and thanked me with a gorgeous lighthouse! 

it was a wonderful reminder that the things we do, that we say, that we offer really do have an impact on people. sometimes more than we realize!

remember – there are real people on the other side of your efforts!

this blog and business started with community. and this year’s problogger reminded me about the importance of nurturing this community… of making every single reader, follower, fan, and customer feel like they are valued, because they deeply are valued. 

i’m not sure i always remember to show it, but i am so damned grateful for each and every one of you! and i am going to take this message i’ve just received and try harder to show it from now on.

so what are some ways we can build our communities?

here are some “take home” ideas from the various sessions i attended at problogger:

  • respond to every comment, email, tweet, message, and tag. every one. spend more time conversing with people than broadcasting your own stuff.
  • listen to what people are saying, struggling with, asking for, longing for…. these things can become the basis for your next product, service, or initiative
  • give your fans something they can do that will give them an immediate result – the power of the quick small win!
  • when pitching any idea always talk about how you can help someone else achieve their goals – this reminds me of chris brogan’s message to make your customer (or anyone!) the hero of their story
  • create a hashtag or challenge or theme that your community would love to be a part of (for instance nikki has #everydaystyle and chantelle has #FMSphotoaday)
  • create opportunities to meet up with or engage with fans & customers – a coffee catch up in real life, or perhaps an online event equivalent
  • tap into your communities and ask for help (for instance to help moderate a daily challenge, or run a community group)
  • send a little gift or a thank you card or a random email to your customers and fans – reach out, let them know how much you value them

what will you do today to build your fandom, to make your customer the hero, or to change somebody’s day?