First connections with potential community founders

(Marcela Donatello) #1

Hello, everybody!

I was talking about my current challenges building a community and @HAWK suggested this might be an interesting subject for a new topic. Maybe others have the same doubts I have… so, here it is:

I’ve just started in a new job and my challenge at the moment is to build a travellers community. I have a great potential founders list and I’ve studied all the theory (including The Proven Path), but I am struggling a little bit with the first interactions since I am also new in this industry and don’t have many connections. Could you tell me how do you usually roll with this? Saying you’d be approaching bloggers, do you drop an email or start with twitter interactions, blog comments, etc? Is the second option really effective? 'Cause it feels I’m getting nowhere. I guess what I wonder is if bloggers will take the time to talk to me, if I don’t drop the potential advantages for them right away. It might be a cultural thing (I’m brazilian) but I have a hard time connecting to people without anything to offer (now at least) and having an agenda behind this interactions. I want it to be and feel genuine for everybody involved and I know people could take value from the community we are building, but at this moment I almost feel like I’m asking for favors or trying to take advantage. Ugh! Can you tell me your experience with this?
Thank you so much! I’m looking forward to learning from you!

So, what are you working on?
Strategies for getting started
(Sarah Hawk) #2

Hi Marcela.

Great questions.

I have a few clarifying questions of my own first:
Does the community actually exist yet, or are you still in the planning stages? What structure does it take? Do you have a content platform and associated community?

Who you are reaching out to and for what purpose? Are your potential founding members people that you are hoping will become members of your community, or people that will write guest blog submissions? Those are quite different roles with quite different expectations.

Usually, when we talk about founding members, we’re talking about people that you (or someone else in the organisation) already have a really strong relationship with. Assuming you’re talking about people that you are hoping will join the community, then here is some really useful information about strengthening those relationships. If you don’t already have relationships with the people on your list, then you’ll need to start with the CHIP process.

I totally understand how you feel regarding contacting people asking for a favour. It’s not my strength either. Perhaps you could come at it from a ‘you’re investing in the future’ approach. Tell people that you will feature their content prominently on your site and link back to theirs. Perhaps try different content forms - a weekly column? This won’t appeal if you don’t yet have an audience though – it sounds like your efforts would be best focused on establishing that first.

(Marcela Donatello) #3

Hi, @HAWK. Sorry for not replying sooner.

The community does not exist now, and the company is also in a very early stage. We have some content and social media presence, but not a big audience.
Some potential founding members are acquaintances of other people in the organisation, but many aren’t and I want to build that relationship with them. The Chip process looks interesting for that. I’ll give it a try.

I’m on the first steps of that process, so haven’t really tried much to say what worked and what didn’t, but you gave me good insights and ideas to start. I will come back in some time with a feedback and my experiences. But for now, thank you very much for your help!

(Sarah Hawk) #4

You’re welcome. :smile:

Based on what you’ve said, it sounds like you should be spending the majority of your time building relationships.

I’m happy to answer other questions as they come up, and it would be great to hear how you go.

(Carly Hulls) #5

@Marcela_Donatello I’m at the same stage as you - its my first steps into Community building and I’m starting our tour guides community from scratch. Its pretty full on! What I’m trying right now is to do a mix of people I have existing relationships with, but also reaching out to tour guides who I think will provide valuable info and insights to our discussions. The initial emails are the cringiest though! What I’m trialling now is to line up a skype call with our potential founding members, just to chat about it, as I find its easier to explain, to share the excitement and answer any questions or concerns the potential founding member may have. So far only a few calls but i’m crossing all fingers!

What have you found effective so far?

(Sarah Hawk) #6

If you’re comfortable sharing your template we can brainstorm what works and what might work better.

(Jon McGowan) #7

you mentioned its a Travel Site… I think many people DREAM of being “Travel Writers”… this is their chance!

… this is their opportunity to share their adventures, finally organize their old pictures and postcards and let the world know how brave and adventurous they are…

…not only that but many people have traveled to remote or relatively unknown locations… this is their chance to help those locals by promoting their villages in your forum and influencing future travelers…

people love being admired for their experiences, sounds like you’re building a great forum for them to shine…

(Carly Hulls) #8

Hey @jonnymcg we definitely want to grow out to help our customers share travel adventures and inspiration together, but at the early stage we are running a ‘testing ground’ community focussed specifically on tour guides for multi-day group tours (our primary travel product.) These guides are the guys who reach the eyes, ears and hearts of travellers while on tours, but don’t have an exclusive space for sharing info, industry advice, tips and connections. We want our community to become that space for them. Then once its established, we grow into a greater, public community for travellers, and those guides who were initially private members can share their travel advice with the greater traveller community. Its a big dream but we’re starting small :slight_smile: I think you are right in we will appeal to travellers egos and drive to travel once we establish the traveller community and share their experiences with locals

(Richard Millington) #9

Just catching up with all the discussion here after SPRINT.

If the outbound e-mails feel cringeworth, something has gone wrong. Either you don’t believe in what you’re telling them or you telling them in a way that doesn’t feel natural to you. Neither is a great sign.

I’m going to guess it’s the first one. This usually happens when you don’t have a good relationship with someone already. You don’t worry about inviting a friend to a party - because you have that relationship. The same is true here. The best way to build a relationship with someone is to figure out how you can help them without asking anything in return. Do that often enough the messages you send out should begin to feel far easier.

(Marcela Donatello) #10

Hi, @CarlyHulls! Yes, I also find the first contacts to be a bit intimidating, but I like what @richard_millington said about figuring out a way to help them. It can certainly ease my feelings of “taking advantage” of their influence.
We sort of put the community on hold now to focus on user acquisition for the company and I’m taking the time to build relationships in the meantime. I should be back to the community in January, with hopes of feeling more comfortable to engage with our potential founders.
Anyways, it seams we are navigating the same waters, so let me know if you’d like to chat more. Best of luck!

(Richard Millington) #11

couldn’t agree more. The more time you invest to build the relationships
before you launch the community, the more it will pay off later down the

(Steven Hermans) #12

I agree with Richard here. I know a lot of journalists, helped them out here and there. Not with the idea of getting them to do something for me, really just because I am interested in their work. A few years down the line, and I did get a link in the Guardian.

But I don’t know if you can give yourself that much time.

(Sarah Hawk) #13

Totally agree. At the end of the day, it’s the human currency, right? More than anything else, we value human connection and social relatedness.

I have always been horrifically bad at asking people for things. The idea of selling or marketing gives me cold sweats – it’s become a bit of a running joke with my colleagues. I have no problem reaching out to people and starting a dialogue though – the key for me is writing what I’d naturally say to someone. If you feel like what you are writing is contrived, rewrite it.

On a side note, it’s great to see you back @Caravanistan. How’re things?

(Steven Hermans) #14

Fine, fine. I like to pop in once in a while to see what’s new.