The Power of Community
Is building a community right for you as a coach or entrepreneur? Are you clear on your niche audience, your capacity to deliver content and services, and do you have the energy and appetite really to cater for the wants and needs of your customers (community members)? Does a community fit into a sustainable business model for you?
There is a lot of hype around community building at the moment, and the many different platforms on which they can be built. A number of the coaches in the Better Bolder Braver community are inspired by ours enough that they are now building coaching communities of their own. Check out, for example Divorce Village — a community for busy professional women, “who are getting divorced, can take time out to recharge, learn something new and make friends.”… the brainchild of one of our founding members, Lucinda Empson.
Why is community important?
We were privileged to welcome community expert, Lana Jelenjev onto our Marketing Masterclass show. Lana describes herself as a “Community Alchemist” alongside being a “Learning Experience Strategist, Speaker, Author and Neurodiversity-Friendly Schools Instigator”. Community has been really central all through Lana’s life - “a big part of who I am”, she says. She talks about ”Kapwa” — a Filipino word for our “shared inner selves”… “being in kapwa with others…”
Simon and I were ourselves inspired by The Happy Startup School community and have learned so much about building communities from our hosts, Carlos Saba and Laurence McCahill. Through them, and Lana, we have come to realise the power of learning journeys, collaboration, good space holding, group work and rituals in community .
These magical, intentional moments can ground us and mark certain moments in our journey. We have been performing them for thousands of years and can today still appreciate their richness and values. Lana generously shares a number of templates for designing a ritual, which community builders can use to mark certain moments and honour experiences, richen engagement in a community and enliven the experience.
Do also check out a load of other excellent resources from Lana to help community members get people to “land in the space”. You can read more about “The Power of Check-ins” in this blog post of Lana’s and here’s a replay of a fun Happy Startup School Friday Fireside with Carlos Saba showing the power of rituals with Lana and her fellow ‘ritualists’, Nynke Vos and Viktor Lysell Smålänning.. which includes a REAL FIRE!
How to find the best coaching community platform?
We chose to build our next on Might Networks, and you check out Simon’s research into which platform was right for us here. There is arguably no one platform that can possibly meet everyone’s needs, or — to put it another way — even the most comprehensive platforms cannot entirely serve the needs of community members… much relies on the values, energies, capacity and drivers of the community’s hosts and also it’s members.
In the above video, Lana Jelenjev introduces the ideas of two of her areas of expertise, Start with Who and also the Satir Change Model. You get a sense quickly from her of how important it is to be clear on who you are serving and why, and what journey they have been on and where they may be going… and only then can we start to think about the how… what activities will best meet them where they are and serve them, and will best engage them and help them grow. So it’s not just about the functionality of the platform.
When we start to think about what we are building, and we realise that simple solutions, which also speak to our personal limits, capacities and boundaries, are probably not there, we can feel overwhelmed, frustrated and despondent. But Lana says,
The space of chaos is really a space of exploration, experimentation and trying out of new things.
This reminds me of something Laurence McCahill said in discussion with us about getting out of your comfort zone and shipping things before they are ready… this eases the pressure for something to be perfect and encourages us to get out there and be playful as opposed to wanted to make something shiny and finished before we share it with others. Community building is a perfect example of this.
Simon and I have built (are building!) a community for coaches around marketing and putting yourself out there. It’s a vibrant and supportive coaching family… a space to connect, collaborate and grow as a business owner and as a person. It’s more than just training and it’s far better than a Facebook Group… It’s a place for passionate coaches who are growing their businesses, want to make a difference and don’t want to burn out. You don’t have to go it alone or feel overwhelmed. Ellie — one of our founding members — says, for example,
“The community has been so much more than I expected. When I joined, I expected to get some marketing tips. On top of that, the community is a hugely supportive group of like-minded coaches who are all in the same situation and working through what can be a messy world of marketing. When you’re a coach and used to shining the spotlight on other people and having to shine it on yourself and all of those feelings that it evokes. It feels like you’re not alone with these challenges.”
Like Lana, we frequently help our members think about the Who, What and Why of Marketing. Simon says that the tools can sometimes just be a “shiny distraction” — if you go down a technical rabbit hole with something that, in the end, is not what you need it can be frustrating and a complete waste of time. So, we help you to identify which play things in the marketing and product mix are worth exploring, what tools are worth your trust in, how you can build and be curious out loud, remain focussed but happy and not lose heart.
Gemma — one of our community members has shared,
“I’m finding people who are feeling the same struggles and we’re supporting each other and having fun with it as well.” Here’s a great video about her business that Gemma has recently produced.
Transformation not Transaction
Lana’s perception is that the idea of community has become a bit muddled. There is a sense of transactional value that has been attached to communities, when the real power of them is in their transformational nature. Lana talks about driving the guiding principals of community and how the power of identifying these is key to building safe and creative places.
Our friends at Mighty Networks, Gina Bianchini and co, have generously shared their own “Breakthrough Guide to Thriving Community”. You can view it here. “Your purpose” as they refer to it, is
“the reason why your “Ideal Members,” or the people who need your community the most right now, will show up, join, pay, engage, contribute, and build relationships with other members as they move towards the results and transformation that they want in their lives.”
In a post-Covid world, we are predominantly building communities online right now AND we can feel a real sense of shared values, shared purpose and shared ethos… this allows for people to be included, engage and feel supported in a timely way.
It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that all one’s needs cannot be entirely met in ONE community… and it’s perfectly ok for a community host to speak openly about that. That’s ok. The clearer we are in our design about that which is shared, the more conscious we can be about our members’ unique and personal circumstances, work with them within their bigger picture, be ethical, generous and compassionate as community leaders and see how communities are able to dovetail with other communities beautifully.
…We’d love to hear from you if you are a coach building a community, or if this is something that you are curious about.
We also like to get to know people in what we call our “Marketing Family” - likeminded ethical marketing practitioners united in making marketing accessible, safe and fun.