Don’t Build A List – Build A Community

don't build a list - build a community

In an earlier article, I mentioned how important it is to build a list of prospective clients, and that list building is not just about having a list of people to sell to – it’s about building a strong relationship with your list, through e-mail newsletters.

Nowadays, I’m going one better. I’m building an on-line Community for introverts in business.

I’ve been a member of Nick Williams’ “Inspired Entrepreneurs Community” for about a year – and the sense of community, as well as the help, encouragement and support that I received both from Nick and from members of the group, inspired me to set up my own community.

The Difference Between a List and a Community

As I explained in my earlier post, internet marketers say “the money is in the list” – but to me, this sounds like they’re treating the people in their list like a commodity. And that doesn’t sit right with me.

I prefer to think of the subscribers to The Quiet Entrepreneur newsletter as the sort of people I would like to hang out with, and have a conversation with over a cup of coffee – geography allowing.

I don’t want to think of people simply as consumers I can sell stuff to. Of course, as I’m in business, selling stuff IS part of the deal. But it’s not the whole deal.

One of the things I’m good at, and enjoy doing, is putting people in touch with other people who can help them – because I know that I don’t have the solutions to ALL their problems, only some!

That’s why I set up a community in a private Facebook group, just for The Quiet Entrepreneur newsletter subscribers – so that people in my “list” can connect with each other, share information, and discuss topics around being an introvert in business that are of interest or concern.

Being on-line, it’s introvert-friendly – you don’t have to post anything if you don’t feel like it, but you can get to know other people in the community through what they post, and contribute when you feel comfortable doing so.

It also gives me a chance to better understand my introvert community members, so that I can tailor my offerings to their specific needs.

Of course, there’s always the danger that my subscribers will buy something from someone else in the community, rather than from me. But the way I see it is: they might have found someone else anyway – and I would rather help someone by introducing them to the right resource within the community, than have them go searching elsewhere.

How To Build Your Community

The mistake a lot of people make, when they first start out in business, is to try to get ANYONE to sign up to their list – thinking that the important thing is the number of subscribers. Actually, the most important thing to consider is the TYPE of subscriber.

Marketing experts say you should create a NICHE for your business – but lots of people find it difficult to think in those terms. (I was one of them!)

Nowadays, people talk about building a TRIBE – but that still feels a bit one-sided: people following and learning from a tribal leader, rather than it being a reciprocal arrangement, which is what you get in a community.

Thinking about who you would like in your Community is a lot easier. Like I say, they are going to be people you would enjoy hanging out with, who share common interests and/or have similar challenges.

And the point is, they will share their interests and challenges with YOU. You are part of the community – you’re not an outsider looking in, or a guru pontificating from your ivory tower.

You have probably overcome some of the challenges, so you have empathy for what your community is experiencing, and a desire to share what you’ve learned and help them through the tough times.

In Chris Brogan’s article: The Single Most Effective Change I Made to My Digital Presence he talks about finding his “freaks”, which is the name he uses to describe the kind of people he understands, and who understand him. In other words, his community.

Nick Williams’ “Inspired Entrepreneurs Community” is made up of people who are fairly new to business and who want to develop their leadership style – and who are able to commute to London for the sessions.

The Quiet Entrepreneur community comprises introverts in heart-centred businesses around the world, who face challenges when it comes to promoting the business. And the reason I chose to gather this group of people is: I’m an introvert/ambivert in a heart-centred business, and I’ve been learning how to overcome challenges in promoting my own business!

Building the community has been a lot more satisfying than building a list ever was. I feel there’s a real sense of camaraderie in the Facebook group, and a shared goal of finding ways to shine our light where it’s needed in the world. To me, that’s a far greater prize than simply “selling stuff to my list”.

If you are an introvert in a heart-centred business, and you would like to join The Quiet Entrepreneur Community, simply subscribe to the newsletter, and you will receive an invitation to join the private Facebook Group. I look forward to meeting you! 🙂

About the author Julia Barnickle - The Quiet EntrepreneurJulia Barnickle is a film maker, photographer, artist and writer, and the founder of The Quiet Entrepreneur community for introverts in business. She offers visibility coaching to raise your online profile, and helps you create videos to promote and deliver your services.

Follow Julia on Instagram | Youtube | Twitter | or on her website.

9 comments… add one
  • Thanks Julia – I don’t see an invite to your private FB group yet – I only see your public page – I’ll send you a message there.
    Ann Brown recently posted..You Are Not Your Business (And Why That Matters)My Profile

    • Thanks for pointing this out, Ann – the invitation to the FB group should have been in the e-mail you get when you sign up to the newsletter, but it wasn’t! I’ve added it in now.

  • I love this and so glad I found you Julia (and Kathryn) – I’d love to join your community and FB group – so I’m going to sign up now.
    I’m in central Scotland – in a rural, very peaceful area near Loch Lomond – so travelling to London is a big drama for me.
    Online interacting is great, but I would love to find an introvert/HSP friendly networking group within easy travel to me. (Glasgow/Stirling would be great – if there isn’t one, then I’m up for creating one … gulp 😉
    Ann recently posted..You Are Not Your Business (And Why That Matters)My Profile

    • Thanks Ann – I’m looking forward to seeing you in the FB group! I think it’s great that you’re up for creating an introvert/HSP friendly networking group in your local area – go for it! 🙂

  • I totally agree with you Julia, I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the idea of having people on my list and thinking of them as a commodity. Just like you I prefer to think of my list as a group of HSPs, introverts and gentle souls that I just haven’t met yet 🙂
    Kate Cave recently posted..Are You Really Going to Give it All Up After One Bad Day?My Profile

  • In total agreement with you on how wonderful communities can be. Some of the groups I’ve been a member of during the process of starting my business have been completely invaluable. Thanks for sharing!
    Kathryn Hall recently posted..Knowing when to let goMy Profile

    • And the great thing is, a lot of groups are now on-line – very introvert-friendly! 🙂

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