Want to Grow your Business? Build and Engage your Community (Sponsored)

Last week, Colombus Day was celebrated in the US. Many celebrated the holiday in a patriotic fashion, while businesses were making use of the event to run Colombus Day promotions.

In this post, we are not going to talk about how businesses and communities celebrated Colombus Day. Instead, we are going to talk about how we can thrive in today’s business world by building your own community, as well as becoming a part of a larger community.

Building a community
photo credit: Kamyar Adi

No worries, no boring stuff – I promise! Why? Because I’m going to show you how I build my online business using the power of communities.

Why community?

But first thing first – here’s a question for you: What is a community and why is it important?

I don’t want to bore you with definitions, so for a start, let me tell you this: Without community, your business will not survive.

Community consists of people with different ways of thinking, expertise, and experience. Who’s your community? Your stakeholders, social media fans and followers, clients, PR partners, neighboring businesses, suppliers, influencers, mentors and experts in your field.

You can ALWAYS benefit from the diversity in your community, even if some of them are just trolls and haters.

Yes, you read that right: You can benefit from trolls and haters in your community. Why? Because they can keep you grounded. They keep you focused on your work. They keep you on track and stay true to your vision.

On the flip side, there are people in your community – more than you can imagine – who are willing to help you grow your business without asking anything in return.

Want an example? Just go to Quora.

In Quora, you learn many things; you can ask and answer questions – virtually about anything, really. How to start a business, how to be a good parent, how to cook the best porridge – anything.

If you want to test how the community in Quora works, just join and try asking a question. Chances are, you will get responses from other members, answering your question. If you are lucky, some experts and big names can jump in and offer you their advice. Free for all, no monetary value involved.

So, what Quora’s members are getting from all of those? Well, if you asked me, I’d say: Community; a loosely-connected community of people to help each other out by sharing what they know about personal and business life.

Quora is just an example. How about LinkedIn? Ditto. Facebook groups? Online forums? Yes and yes.

That’s, my friend, the power of community, and running a business, you need to take part in such community. Even if you are not sociable; even if you are ultra-introvert; even if you hate connecting with others because of one reason or another. You still need to build community and and engage with its members.

Mark Zuckerberg quote on community
photo credit: Will Lion

Want me to list the benefit of being active in a community for your business? Here it goes:

  • Tapping the professional knowledge from your community without the expensive consulting fees.
  • When you are facing problems, there are others who have been in your shoes. Follow their advice.
  • People tend to share insider info with others in their inner circle. Taking part in your community, you will get insider info that only available when you are a part of it.
  • In a business network, you refer clients with each other, which mean more business for everyone in the network
  • You can find new business partners right from your community
  • You can access exclusive training, seminars and events, available only for the community members.
  • Want a challenge? Make your promise and share your target publicly, so that everyone can check whether you are on it or not.
  • You can establish expertise and get recognized as an expert in your community by helping others solve their problems.
  • Community is personal branding made simple – engage other members and get yourself known.
  • Of course, you can also find clients in your community!

The list can go on and on, but you get the point: Without community, you will be alone, and being alone is the least thing you want to experience in the business world.

What’s my next step?

It’s pretty straightforward: Join a community or build one yourself – and start engaging your community.

Joining a community is easy: On Facebook, just search using the search toolbar. On LinkedIn, go to Groups and start searching. For online forums, I recommend you to start with StartupNation.com and Biznik.com.

Build a community yourself? Yes. It doesn’t have to be too technical. For a start, just go to Facebook or LinkedIn and start creating a group. Don’t forget to invite your contacts to join your group. That’s all. If you want a more professional, stand-alone approach, you can consider building a community using SocialEngine.com and other software.

Good luck building and engaging your community!

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Spark Business from Capital One®, but concerns my own opinion. This is the sixth post in a series of eight.