Having the right community surrounding you is the surest, sanest, and most sustainable way to create the business you want. The right community can support you, encourage, even buy from you! But no one community can do everything for you. We (usually) can’t get our need for belonging filled by the same people who meet our financial needs. (Of course it’s possible, and desirable, to be friends with your customers, as long as you don’t conflate their purchases with your self-worth.)
It’s easy to fall into habits – sticking with the same people, spending time in the same places, and having the same conversations. These habits are just fine, and very comforting, but they can also keep you from seeing what’s languishing – the relationships that you aren’t building.
To spot your own habits (and the places your community could use a little attention and love), let’s look at the three communities you need supporting your work (this is in addition to your usual personal support network of family + friends who know nothing about your business):
1. The hang-out and know-I’m-not-alone community.
This is usually filled with other people running businesses like yours. This community fills an important need for belonging. When we chat with other people who are doing what we’re doing, we know we’re not alone. (Which can be pretty hard to find in our daily, face-to-face interactions with family and friends who have day jobs.)
In this community, you chat with people, talk about difficulties and triumphs – all with friends who have been there and get it. Some of us find this community very easy to build via social media – it’s the people we have most in common with on Twitter or Facebook, the people we fall easily into conversation with. If you’re having a hard time connecting in the overwhelming stream of tweets, joining the OMHG community is a great way to get this support!
2. The Challenge + Accountability community.
This is filled with people who not only know what we’re going through, but they hold us accountable to our own vision. This community is prevalent in the fitness + recovery world (running partners + AA meetings), but it’s just as important for any change (or growth) you’re consciously pursuing. You can form this kind of accountability with a friend, you can hire a coach to keep you accountable, or you can join an online group dedicated to accountability (like the Starship!)
It can be tricky to get this kind of support from the people you already know, because they might not be comfortable challenging you, or digging deeper. The way you’ll interact with this community (and the size of it) depends on how you work best – do you want to check in with someone else weekly? Daily? Do you want to go into detail and get more ideas + solutions? Or is it enough to just say: I’m working on this now! This community might even include your staff + employees.
(I find I need different levels of commitment + accountability for different goals.)
3. The community of your buyers + raving fans.
This group is the most vital to your bottom line. It doesn’t matter how many Twitter followers or Facebook likes you have, if they all come from your peers and mentors! What’s tricky with this community is that you have to form it; you can’t sign up somewhere and tap into what someone else has formed. To create and sell your best work, you have to find the unique collection of people who will love it. The great part is that you can learn from each and every person in the community, to both create better work AND to find more community members. This community is (slowly) built through integrated, you-filled marketing – finding and reaching out to your Right People. (I got into detail on how to do this in my book.)
Which community do you have the habit of interacting with? Which one needs more attention and love from you?
Such an important distinction, Tara…and one that I know + understand, but don’t think about often or intentionally enough. Perfectly delivered with enough tough love (you’re good!) to make me take notice + take stock! Thank you!
Tara – So funny, as I was reading your article I had an ah-ha moment. I have learned so much about community from visiting OMHG and I realized that my new project that starts in January 2014 is all 3 of the communities rolled into one.
Hooray. I know I’m on the right path.
Your article helped affirm for me that it’s all about community and what you give over what you get.
I loved your article!
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