Why You Should Build a Healthy Community Instead of a Business Network

I was recently strategizing with a friend when she said something that made my ears immediately perk up: “I’ve built a large network, but I don’t feel like I have a community.”

As I let her talk through her dilemma, I realized that she had just perfectly summed up a lesson that I’ve been trying to teach clients for years:

While it’s one thing to attract people to your email list, audience, or contact database, but it’s a whole other thing to make those people feel central, important, and have an invested stake in the world you’ve build online.

Network vs. Community: What’s the difference?

Most formal definitions of a personal network agree that it’s a set of human contacts known to an individual, with whom that individual would expect to interact at intervals to support a given set of activities.

In other words, it’s a utilitarian entity, built around one person, and based on that person’s specific, individual needs.

In contrast, a community is generally defined as a social unit that shares something in common, such as norms, values, identity, or a sense of place.

Communities run much deeper because people identify with a shared commonality that is important to them. And while a community might originate from a single person or entity, it’s nurtured by and connected to all the individual members who are a part of it.

Put even more simply: networks connect, but communities care.

While a community might originate from a single person or entity, it’s nurtured by and connected to all the individual members who are a part of it. Put simply: networks connect, but communities care.Click To Tweet

So why is having a healthy community important to your business?

When it comes to marketing and promoting your business online, you can take one of three approaches:

  • Pay to have a consistent presence in the marketplace through ongoing advertising and promotion.
  • Create content on your blog and social media that prospects can find once they start looking for the services you offer.
  • Build a relationship with a select audience so that you’re already a trusted and convenient resource when they are ready to use your services.

All three methods are important to use and pack an exponential punch when combined, but the positive impact that your advertising and content publication has on your business will eventually wane.

Nurturing a community, however, has the potential to carry you much further – all the while increasing your value to your customers and your customers’ value to you.

Why? It all goes back to a simple psychological concept: people love to do business with people they know, like, and trust.

Imagine you’re a successful piano player and have created an online tutoring platform to help aspiring piano players improve their technique. You’ve utilized the three marketing techniques mentioned above, and have managed to attract a modest email list of clients.

(example of a healthy community vs a stagnant network)

Since communities are built on the foundation of familiarity, affinity and trust, harnessing the power of a community for your business is a match made in heaven. In other words, help people feel included, validated, connected, and cared for and they’ll be on your side for a long time.

What kind of communities are you a part of, and why do you care about them?

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