How to Grow Your Community and Why You Want To!

 

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When I was asked by Lifestyle Entrepreneur Magazine to write this article on how entrepreneurs can build their business strategically within their own community, it got me thinking. What is community and why would you want to impact itʼs growth?
Wikipedia states “The word “community” is derived from the Old French comunete which is derived from the (from Latin communis, things held in common), a broad term for fellowship or organized society.[1] One broad definition which incorporates all the different forms of community is “as a group or network of persons who are connected (objectively) to each other by relatively durable social relations that extend beyond immediate genealogical ties, and who mutually define that relationship (subjectively) as important to their social identity and social practice”
The basis of community is to be connected; it is this connectedness that makes life more enjoyable, gives purpose, and ultimately will determine the success of your business.
In order to grow your community, you must first become an active participant in it. Socially you will need to get out and meet people. There are a number of ways and opportunities for you to meet people. For meeting large numbers of people you can go to networking events. These can range from business groups like BNI or Chamber of Commerce mixers, to social or activity groups. You can also meet and interact with people by using the power of social media. Join groups on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, & Google + where you have similar interest and start having conversations. You will make connections around the globe.
People love to be associated with those who are positive and contribute to make the community a better place. Imagine this scenario, you are at a function and you unwittingly get stuck in a conversation someone whoʼs outlook is like Eeyore. They are dismal, downtrodden, and depressing. How does being near this person make you feel? You probably leave the conversation feeling like all joy had been sucked from your soul.
Your greatest attractor is joy, positivity, and the ability to make people at ease around you. When you approach life in this manner by not focusing on and expanding the negativity, you are raising the quality of life.
Some people seem to have most of their conversations centered around the goal of seeing who will join their pity patrol by complaining, condemning, and gossiping. When you choose not to engage in this type of talk, you will elevate the conversation. Now that you have focused on what you can do as an individual, letʼs consider what your business can do to benefit the community.
As a business owner, your community will value you when you give back to charities, and offer your expertise. You will become a valuable resource to the community. By growing your community with contributions, people will come to know you as an expert and trust that you concerned for their well being.
The benefit comes from the cycle of reciprocity. People have strong bonds of loyalty to the community where they have gained acceptance, and more so to the person who has helped them. One act of kindness is returned and passed forward to another. This spreads community wide. An entrepreneur should understand and put this principle to use by giving not with the focus gaining, but of being of genuine service.
The second aspect of building your community and business comes from inviting people into it. Our human nature has a deep desire to be included and connected. People love to be welcomed into a group, and especially so when they feel they are a valued member. Recognize and reward people for who they are, what they do, and their contributions. Everybody loves to be celebrated (even if they deny it outwardly) and they will have a special affection and attachment to those who do.
When someone refers a friend, family member or colleague to your business, be sure thank them and show your appreciation. It will solidify your professional relationship and will keep you top of mind for future referrals.
Lastly, be interesting, inspiring, and excellent. People are drawn to those who lead fascinating lives. We want to hear their stories. We want to be around them. We want to learn their secrets to success. We want to be around them so we can have a little of what they have. With the invention of social media sharing this has become a very powerful attraction tool. Show people your positivity, your adventurous life, and help you are giving.
Your community building should encompass people you meet face to face and those you connect with online. We are living in the digital age where the community you are involved with can be great distances from your physical location. This is an incredible phenomenon that has forever changed our world. You are no longer limited to building your influence to your immediate area. This benefits you as a business owner because your reach is now global. Building your community online is easy when you just follow the same principles you would offline.
1. Be an active participant.

2. Make contributions to the community.

3. Invite people.

4. Be positive.

5. Be interesting and inspiring.
By implementing and following these steps consistently you will see your community and business grow organically. Your efforts will spread your influence, and soon the efforts of others will build a community of like minded people who know your reputation
and good works. Nothing is more powerful and trusted than a word of mouth referral. Your goal as an entrepreneur should be to always make people feel better for meeting you. When they do, you remain in their mind as someone worthy of being introduced and referred to their contacts.
It is easy to build a community and your business as a result, once you make a decision to do so. Be the best version of you, go meet people, and stand out by making people happy to be around you.
A word on caution; you will be tempted to focus on building your business. DONʼT! People will be suspicious and see through your motives. Seek first to be a friend and give value to the relationship. Even when it seems counter intuitive, it will serve you and your business for long term results and lasting loyalty. In other words, donʼt go for the quick cash because that is easily lost. Instead build a lifelong customers because they will keep you in business for life.

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