The rise of Facebook brought home to me the value of communities in our personal and business lives.
Whenever I’m asked to speak at a conference or an event I’m always asked for some tips for getting ahead in business. One of the things I strongly advocate is to ‘get a community’. All my life I’ve understood the importance of surrounding yourself with different groups, whether it’s just to meet interesting people in a social way, or to call upon the advice of business people.
I’ve been thinking more about this in the past week. I’m fascinated and astounded by the rise and rise of Facebook. If you’re lucky enough to have any time to spend on that site, you’d find some interesting community studies. There are people on there who have reconnected with their school community; there are those like a friend of mine who uses it for her UN community; there is a strong contingent from the Jewish community; the entrepreneurial community; and various sporting communities.
I attended a seminar on word of mouth marketing yesterday and the speaker was discussing the process his agency employs to find successful influencers and early adopters. They’re looking for people who are part of many communities. A strong target for them may be someone who plays in a local band, works in a large office in the city, and goes to a church in the suburbs. A person like that can spread a brand message and influence many types of different people just by going through the motions of their daily lives.
In business I’ve found it useful to be part of many communities. I regularly call on my entrepreneurial community for advice, and also rely on my businesswomen’s community (no prizes for guessing which one that is).
Today I want you to ask yourself which communities you are part of, and which communities you’d like to belong to. How well do you know the people in those communities? How well connected are you? How much time do you invest in getting to know the people in your communities? How well do they know what you do, and what you need?
At the end of that process you will have worked out who in the community can carry your message and what that message is. And of course it also helps if you can carry and share their messages in return – because that ultimately is what a community… and business… is about: helping each other.
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Gail Geronimos writes: Yep, I certainly don’t spend enough time contacting and building my networks. Have you read Tipping Point? In that book Malcolm Gladwell explains his theory on networks. He suggests that the size of an effective network is 150 and that you should have four types of people in the network – connectors, mavens, salesman and translators. He gives some examples of using networks to get a buzz going. Good stuff.
Mark Rowland at Wagamama writes: I could not agree with you more and you summarise this very well. I think most business leaders would benefit from some more continuum thinking. I too have a coach and this is one of my biggest opportunities too. I hope you are making huge steps forward 🙂