Before 2020, the term "community" to me meant a Slack channel I went to only when I remembered. Luckily, things have changed.
The year 2020 saw the rise of communities that helped unite the Customer Success space. You can find them in the shape of forums, threads, Slack groups, and monthly calls. If you're not part of one and are currently on your brand-building journey, find one and stick to it.
Let's take a closer look at the three ways communities help you build your brand 👇🏽
Building an audience
We talked about building an audience as you're developing your brand. There's an easy way and a hard way of doing this.
The hard way is blindly sending out connection requests on LinkedIn to people you don't know, crossing your fingers and hoping that they accept your request.
The easy way is sending connection requests to people you have something in common with (i.e., you're part of the same community).
Your goal shouldn't be to build a "following." What's the point of having 10k "followers" and only 2% of those "followers," actually connect with what you're saying? When you connect with people that are part of your community, you immediately know that you have something in common.
What's more is that if they're posting content on LinkedIn or commenting on other people's posts, it's an excellent opportunity for you to engage with them. Robert Cialdini, the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, shares six principles of influence, and one of them is called "reciprocity." As humans, we are programmed to return favors because we never want to feel indebted to anyone. The same applies to LinkedIn. If you're constantly engaging with someone's post, the likelihood of them engaging with your content is high.
Audience > Followers
Communities can serve as a great source of inspiration for content creation. Your next piece of content can come from a question someone asked or a story someone told. For this, you'll need to raise your awareness
It's like when you buy a new car, and suddenly EVERYONE has your car. It wasn't that everyone rushed to copy "your car." It's just that you are now noticing it because you also have that car.
The very same goes for creating content. At first, you may feel like you don't have much to say and you're unsure where to get ideas. But when you put your ideation glasses on, you'll notice that ideas are all around you –– you just need to be receptive to them.
Next time you're at your community event or in a thread, keep your note app open and make a quick note of things that caught your eye. Then, devote some time to formulating posts based on the things you've written down.
I know people in the Gain Grow Retain community who have built a brand for themselves without ever posting on LinkedIn or any other platform. How did they do it? They were present, and they participated.
Imagine if they did post 🤯 I know for a fact that I would be engaging with their content. Communities are a great way for you to establish yourself in the Customer Success space. By actively contributing, being vocal, and providing value within a community, you'll have already established the foundation for building your brand on a platform like LinkedIn.
Now, I know that sometimes it's a bit intimidating when you're on these calls and within the chats, but you'll need to push yourself out of your comfort zone to be visible. When I first started joining the Gain Grow Retain's weekly calls, I was a ball of nerves. I was fresh into my traditional CS career so I didn't have a ton of "relevant" experiences to share but I did recap podcast episodes about CS in my blog, keep the customer. I used the knowledge I gained from writing my blog to share insights with the community and you can do the same. You don't need to start a blog (though I highly recommend it) but you can leverage other resources to be visible.
Yes, communities can help you build your brand but DON'T be that person that joins communities only for the purpose of building their brand 🚫 Communities are for relationship building and learning, not for blasting your LinkedIn posts/blog post/podcast episode, etc.
On Open Book of Customer Success, you'll find a list of communities. Do your research and join the one that speaks to you 😉