How Do You Build an Online Community?

By , Authentic Marketing Expert

Solo-E Certified Solo Entrepreneur Expert

Cindy Schulson - Authentic Marketing Expert

My son went on a field trip and, in preparing for a 2 hour drive each way, asked if he could borrow the ipad. When we said no, he complained that all of his friends will be hooked up to their electronic gizmos and he’ll have nothing to do. We told him to try talking to his friends – what a concept.

In this world where we’re all so disconnected from each other, it’s easy to blame technology. But at the same time, technology can bring us together.

If you’re a solopreneur working from your home office you understand exactly what I mean. If you’re like me, there are probably people you’ve collaborated with and worked with and yet never met.

One of the greatest benefits of any group coaching program I run is the private Facebook Group we create for members. There, people can interact, network, brainstorm, find accountability partners and make friends. I always say that I know a program is successful based on the caliber of the people I attract and the support they give one another.

We need community to help us grow and to make us feel like we’re not all alone in this world of entrepreneurship. We need to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves. We need others who we can relate to and who support us in our journey.

As a business owner, creating your own community brings huge rewards. When you provide people with the ability to connect with you and with others who share a common interest or goal, you’re building tremendous value which enhances the know, like and trust factor. When people connect to a community, they are also connecting at a deeper level to you. And when you create an online community, you have a great opportunity to learn more about your target market. It’s like your own little market research laboratory!

How do you create a community of your own?

You can do it in many different ways. Some are paid communities, and others are free. What you build depends on your goals.

Here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • You can use your blog to build a sense of community among your readers. Ask them to leave comments at the end of blog posts, or better yet, ask a question for them to answer that is directly related to your blog post. Also, be sure to include your social media links on your site so people can connect with you there and take the relationship to the next level.
  • Create a free Facebook group for like-minded members. Set the rules and boundaries of the community. For instance, pick one day of the week where members can promote themselves and all other days are promotion free. Encourage participation by sharing valuable information, asking questions, and connecting members. You can also create community on your Facebook Page, much like you would on your blog.
  • Hold a free Q&A call where participants can get your help, and also connect with one another. An easy way to do this is to have them register for the call and dial in to a conference line, but they can post their questions and comments on your Facebook Page during the call. It creates great interaction and community!
  • Create a Member Forum on your site (there are platforms you will have to invest in) or create a community using services like Yahoo Groups, BuddyPress or Ning. This is a more involved endeavor and one I haven’t undertaken myself but I would love to hear from those of you who have done this!
  • Create a paid Membership program where people can get training, community, coaching and support. My program, TALI, is a great example of this. We have some incredible people in the program who have really come together to support one another.

Cindy Schulson helps coaches and consultants transform their brilliance into magnetic messaging and multiple streams of income. She loves helping her clients sort through their “brain dump” of ideas and discover the golden nuggets that make them shine. Cindy has worked in Strategic Communications for such companies as Coca-Cola and Visa, and now uses her messaging ninja skills to help her clients stand out as the perfect choice for their ideal clients. Get her FREE online training, "How to Use Your Unique Message to Attract Your Favorite Clients" at www.MarketingFromWithin.com

© Copyright 2013 Cindy Schulson

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