The What, Why and How of Community Building
Updated: Jan 10, 2021
I have come across many people in the fitness space who have not invested time in building a community niche to themselves as freelancers or self-employed individuals in the B2C space because they have the mindset that building a community is only for business owners or large companies or brands in either the B2B or B2C space. This current Covid-19 situation has shown even more so that businesses and freelancers with their own communities have managed to stay relevant and competitive in this period where everything has moved from the offline to the online space.
The information below is meant more for freelancers and self-employed individuals, who also can be considered entrepreneurs, in the fitness space (personal trainers or group class instructors), but could possibly apply to other industries as well.
What is a Community?
A community is a group of individuals who share the same vision and aligned values as one another. It does not matter whether the community exists offline or online or between both, because communities are not confined to physical and geographical boundaries.
A client will forever be a client if no active steps are taken to bring it one notch up to establish the aligned values and to form that community. Some freelancers and self-employed individuals have been able to build their own community organically by chance, whilst others have been more proactive in making sure they get things right from the onset.
What is Community Building?
Community Building is simply growing the already established community by facilitating interactions within the group through different activities. In the case of the personal trainer and group fitness instructor, it is creating rapport with the client(s) before, after and in-between sessions. It is an extra step of unpaid time you are dedicating to socializing with your clients.
If you are growing a community, YOU are a Community Builder! Depending on the industry and vertical, the Community Builder could be working for a brand or a business or an NGO or social enterprise or non-profit organisation. In this case, you are the Community Builder building your own community for your own personal brand and business, and you are the “glue” that keeps the community together and activated.
For ease of understanding, just think of building community as an extension of the people who share in your personal brand’s vision and values.
Why Build Community?
Building Community Provides Relevance
By having a clear vision and set of values, you provide greater relevance for your clients to be a part of your community. This helps to increase followership and your community will grow with time. A larger community will translate into more touchpoints for you to share on your service and value-add.
Building Community Breeds Loyalty
An engaged community is a loyal community. This translates into client retention and moves past the mindset that the service you provide is purely transactional. Longevity and sustainability is what every business strives for and this is a priceless achievement.
How to build Community?
Identify your Unique Selling Point (USP)
This is the first question you will need to ask yourself because it determines how different you are compared to all the other 1,001 individuals who are performing that same service. Is it in the B2B or B2C space and what demographics or geographical locale are you most specialised in?
By identifying your USP, it will help you formulate your vision and aligned values.
Get to know your community
Having a community that is aligned to your vision and values is wonderful, but if you are not able to understand what the community needs, and provide for those needs, the community will not survive.
Having frequent informal conversations with your community will help you understand what they need. Depending on the preferred channels of communications for your community, you can also conduct formal surveys through various platforms. Your community’s needs could possibly be periodically changing so it is crucial to get constant feedback and understanding what the community needs so that you can continue to be relevant and they can continue to be engaged.
Authenticity is the buzzword and this helps to build trust not just in the service that you provide, but also in you as an individual. Your online and offline persona should as far as possible be similar, and that goes the same for your professional as well as personal persona. You can decide the boundaries you set between the sort of information you share between your personal and professional persona. If you have children or a pet, it is not wrong to sometimes share and talk about them, because your clients can then identify you as a genuine person and not just from a professional position.
Being consistent is the ability for you to continue providing the same level of service, care and consideration to the community. The community will feel at ease and comfortable. This adds to building of trust and authenticity and must be something you should always strive to be able to provide.
Be patient because Community Building is a long term relationship building process and could take anything from 6 months to 12 months for you to see any form of results. Invest your time and resources wisely and continue to grow and engage your community. The benefits can be seen and experienced in the most unexpected and minute of incidences.
I know it is always easier said than done. But it’s also always easier giving it a try before saying it does not work and knowing what more you need to work on to make it right and better. You might not be number 1 amongst the 1,001 other professionals, but you could be number 901, ahead of the 100 other professionals.
About Alex Loh
I am a consultant and coach in the fitness, health and wellness space, business owner, loving husband and doting father.
My compass is guided by the desire to help people. I help individuals and business owners to find purpose. Together we unlock fruitful solutions, experience growth and achieve targeted success. Having successfully built and maintained communities over the years, my focus is to help businesses and organisations harness community as the vehicle to connect, and build credibility, trust and authentic relationships.
Come speak to me about Developing Wellness Strategies, Finding Purpose, Building Communities and/or in Optimising your Life!
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