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10 tips how to build strong relationships with the community

Your business does not exist in isolation.

Many groups of people have self-selected to join communities, clubs or forums related to an almost infinite number of interests or special interest groups. You will need to build strong relationships to make the most of your customer conversations and industry experience.

Why is community important for your business?

Customers have many distractions and unless you’re creating a new product or service, they will also have alternatives at their disposal.

You must communicate with your customers to keep their engagement high. This is easier when communicating with an existing community or a group you build around your business. Therefore, demonstrating your business is part of something more than itself.

How to develop a relationship with the community?

You need to create and grow a relationship with your community, so the members believe your business belongs within their group.

The 10 suggestions give you tips to find, understand, build and develop community around your business:

1. Know your audience and focus your messages

2. Make everything personal and approachable

3. Ensure mutual benefit for you and your community

4. Show the community you can be trusted

5. Give everything you have to your community, teach, develop and guide them

6. Understand your community may know more than you

7. Respect your community and let them thrive in the spotlight

8. Go to where you community resides and join the conversation with value

9. Act as a community facilitator and not a dictator

10. The community may have their own way nicknames or slang

1. Know your audience and focus your messages

Knowing your audience is vital. You will need to show you’re authentic and you care about your customer problems, needs or wants.

If you do not have the same issue or concerns of your community, you can demonstrate your track record of providing related products or services. Caring about providing the best service for the community and listening to your customers are the most important elements of building your community.

2. Make everything personal and approachable

You may be part of a community or have long-standing relationships. Either way, you should communicate and speak with the community in a friendly and approachable manner. Your success will depend on the community you create or the community you join.

Therefore, everything you do should be with the intention of providing the best options for your community and helping them enjoy their experience with an engaging and friendly conversation.

When communicating with a group or community, you could concentrate your thoughts on a specific ‘avatar’ or customer type, so you know what to say and how to deliver your thoughts and messages.

3. Ensure mutual benefit for you and the community

Your role within the community is a facilitator and communicator. Building strong relationships within your community is the best way to show you’re genuine.

The community should believe and feel you have as much right to benefit from the community by equally sharing your thoughts and ideas.

There may come a time when you have to show you have the community's best interests at the expense of your interests. In this situation, try to always find common ground using win-win situations to benefit everyone.

4. Show the community you can be trusted

When you join a group for the first time, you need to establish trust. All parties need to believe they can trust each other or there can be no relationship.

Asking questions or helping community members without directly selling will help build your relationship with other members, so everyone benefits from your discussion.

5. Give everything you have to your community, teach, develop and guide them

If you can become selfless and provide your knowledge, skills and experience to your community. This will help you to build strong community relationships with the wider interest group.

If you can transfer your knowledge to your group peers, it will help you demonstrate and prove you want to be part of their community.

This might sound counterproductive, but when you’re with close family and friends, you would gladly provide advice to help everyone. Treating a group like close friends will show everyone you can be a trusted community member who improves the group.

6. Understand your community may know more than you

You may not know as much as your community members.

If someone has lived and breathed problems, they will have a different perspective. You may provide products and services but your customers may understand more about their problems than you.

Be humble and honest about your knowledge and experience. The community will appreciate your honesty.

7. Respect your community and let them thrive in the spotlight

You do not need to lead the community and impress the group. Your business should speak for itself by offering a positive and fulfilling experience alongside your product or service.

When you join the conversation, take a back seat and communicate without trying to control the group. You should be a valued group member without taking the lead or changing the group dynamics. You’re there to engage, learn and communicate with the group.

8. Go to where your community resides and join the conversation

The Internet is vast and people communicate every minute of every day.

There are many places where a group or community collaborate about their interests. The locations may vary from forums and trade shows to Facebook Groups, message boards and social media.

If you find an existing group or create a new group. You must immediately add value to any conversation and demonstrate you’re eager to learn and expand your knowledge and experience within the group.

9. Act as a community facilitator and not a dictator

You don’t own the community, the community (or the collection of people will exist with or without you). You should approach your conversation trying to learn and bring out the best in the community rather than trying to control the conversation.

You must be a facilitator rather than a leader. The more value you provide to the group or the value you can bring out of members demonstrates you’re value to the group.

10. The community may have their own nicknames or slang

Building your community or joining an existing community may need you to research uncommon words or phrases. Some of the slang and phrases may confuse you before you fully understand how the group communicates.

This might require you to get up to speed as quickly as possible, so you can join the group with basic knowledge Over time it will be clear you’re a community member that is there to stay.

Final thoughts on joining or building a community

Communities are a part of life and business. Approaching your community relationships with empathy and selfless behaviours will help you and your business prove its worth to group and community members.

Good luck!

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